Buddhist monks hope to move in

by Chris Cousens, Glamorgan Gazette, Nov 3 2011

Wales, UK -- MOST people twitch the curtains to sneak a peak when new neighbours move in next door.

But people living in Laleston and Merthyr Mawr may soon be greeting the unlikeliest of new arrivals into their communities.

Wales’ only practising Thai Buddhist Monks are hoping to relocate their temple into a property at Ar Graig, Laleston.

The two monks – Phramaha Sawaddi, 45, and 32-year-old Chai – have submitted a planning application to Bridgend County Borough Council to move their meditation and Thai Community Centre into a detached house alongside the A48 dual carriageway.

The Thai pair, who sport the traditional orange monastic robes and bald heads, meditate for around 10 hours every day and do not eat anything after 11.30am, currently live at the Sanghapadipa Temple in Rhymney – Wales’ only Thai Buddhist Centre.

But if they get their wish, their sacred dwelling could soon be coming to Bridgend – bringing Buddhists from across South Wales into the borough for teachings and meditation.

Speaking to the Gazette yesterday, head monk Phramaha Sawaddi, who has been practising for 25 years and moved to the UK from Thailand eight years ago, said: “I think Laleston is a nice area with nice people.

“We can have more space to meditate and people going to the temple can get there a lot easier.”

Laleston and Merthyr Mawr councillor Wayne Morgan, who travelled the world during his career in the armed forces, said: “I saw many different cultures during my military career and from my knowledge of Thai Buddhists they are a profoundly peaceful people.

“The people of Laleston are always welcoming and friendly and I think we always welcome diversity. I cannot see how this would cause any kind of problem.”

According to the planning application document, the house would also act as a Thai community centre where groups of between five and 20 buddhists would come for meditation classes and other events. A volunteer live-in cook would also live at the property.

The house would include a Thai community meeting room, an intimate room for private meetings with the monks and a meditation room that can house six.

The council’s planning committee is expected to make their decision on the application in December.