Edinburgh’s unique Thai Temple is celebrating the completion of a major renovation project – which included relocating a 500kg Buddha – with a message for people to come-and-see and sample the facility.
The Dhammapadipa Temple – which was established in 2005 by the Thai community who had settled in Scotland, with the support of UK’s original Thai Buddhist temple in London – has been transformed from its original three bedroomed residential property in the city’s Craiglockhart/Slateford area.
Staff at the Temple worked extensively to raise funds and to secure the charitable support of local traders to complete the refurbishment – even taking the plans to a design agency in Bangkok to ensure the finished design offered a modern Thai style prayer room and facilities that remained sympathetic to its Edinburgh location.
Now, after the completion of the four months construction programme, the Temple is keen to invite people in to see the finished project – and in particular to take up their new low-cost meditation and yoga classes.
Head monk Phramaha Prasert Prommala said they are so proud of the results which was achieved for a budget of just £50,000.
He said: “The quality of products and finishes merits a far higher budget, but we must give credit to all our materials providers and tradespeople who tirelessly worked to tight timescales and kept their costs down to achieve this on budget. Whilst we followed the plans to the letter, walking into our main hall still feels special. The feedback from everyone who enters is exceptional.
“We have an open door policy to all, regardless of religious beliefs or age and we want to invite anyone interested to come now and visit us.
“One big advantage of the renovation is that we can now offer meditation classes from our monks who are qualified meditation masters, yoga classes, Buddhism talks, morning and evening chanting.
“While we outsource yoga teaching instruction, we still run all our projects at not-for-profit basis. This keeps prices very low and the activities are as inclusive as possible to those who perhaps may not afford private/commercially offered classes.
“This is all about a community wellbeing focused approach for everyone who would like to balance and re-focus their mind and thoughts through meditation, and for your mind and body to feel fantastic after our yoga sessions with the charismatic yoga expert teacher, Lisha Zhang.”
Under the refurbishment, the previous frontage of two garage doors are now large soundproof windows with a modern cladding outside which aims to be more inviting to everyone to see inside and to get involved if they would like to.
A massive logistical exercise was also needed to relocate the Temple’s massive 500kg Buddha into a new area, which is the facility’s showpiece feature.
Head Monk Prommala added: “We always knew there was potential to overhaul the floorplans of the ground floor to maximise the buildings potential to create a large, spacious and natural light laden space for patrons to enjoy. We wanted a space that was encouraging for the local community to come in, enjoy its peaceful and uplifting ambiance as we knew anyone interested would love spending time there.
“We agreed on a design that blended in fabrics and design styles that had similarities and were common in both traditional Edinburgh and Thai decor, such as Georgian style block cornicing, wall panelling and stressed wood flooring in some places. This was then supported with modern lighting systems to give mood effect and a peaceful atmosphere.”
During the COVID pandemic, the Temple received grants which allowed it to support of its services to the community and to assist the renovation project.
While balancing the pressures and challenges of the renovation, the Temple increased its outreach work to the community, including food bank projects, supporting isolated and vulnerable persons, those who had been the subject of race-hate abuse due to their South East Asian ethnicity as well as just being able to engage and bring social interaction and mental health support in a safe manner. It also partnered with local health boards to assist with the uptake of vaccinations, providing translation and transportation.
Since restrictions have all lifted, the Temple have had local schools come in for meditation teaching for pupils, Buddhism inputs, partnering up with Edinburgh University and it has an interesting project in the pipeline with the National Museum of Scotland about Buddhism for 2023.
Information on the meditation and yoga classes, plus all services and the history of the Temple – which is generally open every day from 9am to 7pm – can be seen on its website at www.dhammapadipa.com