Buddhist center nears finish in Raynham

Enterprise News, Jan 22, 2013

New Thai Buddhist meditation center in Raynham expected to open in July

Raynham, MA (USA) -- The largest Thai Buddhist meditation center outside of Thailand, on South Street East in Raynham, is expected to be completed in July, project leaders say.

The 109,000-square-foot complex will be called the Wat Nawamintararachutis, or NMR Center for short, and dedicated to Thailand’s reigning King Rama IX, Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was born in a Boston-area hospital in 1927 while his father studied at Harvard University.

The Thai government is financing the $16 million, three-story wat, or temple.

Visitors will enter the first floor to find a museum for the king, similar to a presidential library, with a café. There will be a meditation room on the second floor. The third floor will be a temple with a bronze Buddha weighing 15 tons, standing 20 to 25 feet high, that will be shipped from Thailand in pieces.

The temple will be topped with an ornate golden Chedi, or spire, bringing the building’s total height to 185 feet. The project features aspects of New England architecture, such as gables, blended into traditional Thai temple architecture.

In 2006, a Thai Buddhist abbot bought the 50-acre property, and a group of monks moved to the neighborhood. Groundbreaking was in September 2011. The general contractor is Milford-based Consigli Construction.

Construction crews continue to work in winter. Members of the temple said Hurricane Sandy set back the completion date by about a month.

After the exterior is completed, the interior will be finished and the building’s spire added. As part of the interior design, “delicate” artwork will be imported from Thailand and installed by Thai workers, members of the temple said.

Once the center is completed, hundreds of Thai Buddhists from all over New England can visit for special ceremonies and gatherings each year.

“The Buddha is ... is property of mankind,” said Ven. Mongkol Kuakool, head monk at the Raynham wat. “To have a temple here, we will invite many, many people to join for unity. Buddhism is the religion of peace and friendship.”
Lamiad Wechapak, NMR Center director and monastery affairs manager, said a “big, big, big ceremony” is planned when the center is finished.

More details at www.watnawaminusa.org. Questions or comments can be emailed to watnawamin@yahoo.com. The group has a page on Facebook.

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