CANBERRA’s Sri Lankan Buddhist community members are gearing up for a major celebration this weekend with the planned unveiling of a “stupa” or “dagaba” (reliquary) at their temple complex at Kambah.
According to the president of the Australia-Sri Lanka Buddhist Association, Dr Tala Talgaswatta, the construction in the tradition of Sri Lankan monumental architecture, took eight years to design, plan and complete.
Venerated by Buddhists, the stupa is believed to be the only one of this kind in Canberra and the surrounding region. Twelve meters in height and 22 meters in perimeter, it is intended to be both a landmark for Canberrans and a place of worship for generations of Buddhist devotees.
A brilliantly-white dome with a long conical object pointing skyward from its apex, the stupa is visible from Athllon Drive close to the Drakeford Drive intersection in Tuggeranong.
Sri Lankan community member Panduka Senanayake says the project, with both local and Sri Lankan technology, became a labour of love and devotion from the community who raised the needed funds through food fairs, donations and other means.
Whereas previous temple structures had mostly been completed by qualified builders and carpenters, with volunteers chipping in to add the finishing touches such as fitting timber floors, the stupa has seen a large number of volunteers, learning on the job under the guidance of a monk experienced in such work in Sri Lanka, Japan and South Korea.
For the unveiling ceremony, members are busy installing hundreds of figurines of guardian deities, elephants, flowering vines and lotus blooms.
Mr Senanayake painted a picture to “CityNews” of mothers and sisters adding finishing touches to three cement rings encircling the stupa above its base, young people serving refreshments and volunteers taking shifts to complete work.
Dr Tala Talgaswatta said the ceremony on Saturday would be accompanied by prayers, drumming, chanting and the unveiling of the spire and pinnacle.
Stupa opening ceremony, Australia Sri Lanka Buddhist Vihara, 30 Jenke Circuit, Kambah, 2.30pm, Saturday, March 2.