Monks settling in

By Cindy Larson, News Sentinel, April 23, 2005

Buddhist community hopes to add temple, rec center to new home

Fort Wayne, Indiana (USA) -- After being flooded out twice in a year and a half, a Buddhist monastery has a new home.

Monks U Thondara and Ashin Visakhana have moved into a house on seven acres southeast of Fort Wayne at 8133 Hartzell Road. Saturday, other Buddhists, including many from the local Burmese community, planned to celebrate with a house-warming party.

?The house is about 10 years old. It?s a pretty good house,? said Aunt Kywe, secretary of the Society of Theravada Buddha Sasana, an organization that supports cultural and religious activities of Burmese Buddhists in Fort Wayne.

The Dhammarekkhita Monastery and worship hall had been located on South Calhoun Street until January, when water from the nearby St. Marys River flooded both the house and hall.

It marked a repeat of the Flood of July 2003, which caused $20,000 in damage and resulted in a massive cleanup.

After the January flood, the decision was made to look for other accommodations. The new location doesn?t have a temple or recreation hall, but Kywe said they hope to build either or both within three years. He said the temple would be built pagoda-style, and they hope it would be seen from nearby Interstate 469 if the society ?can get approval from the county.?

In addition to celebrating the move, at Saturday?s gathering attendees planned to pay respect to elders as a part of the Burmese new year celebration. Most of the party was to be indoors, but tents were to be set up to serve people outside. Kywe expected to feed about 200 people a lunch of Indian food. The monks already have blessed the house, but a more formal opening ceremony is planned for July.

Until a recreation hall is built, the group will use facilities at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne or Indiana Institute of Technology for larger community gatherings. Kwye said members of the society each hope to save $20 a month for future construction, and plan to stage fundraising activities, as well.

The monks already have introduced themselves to their new neighbors and invited them to Saturday?s luncheon, Kywe said. As for the house on Calhoun Street, the society hopes eventually it will be bought by the city as part of its flood buyout program. If that doesn?t happen, Kwye said they eventually may fix it up so out-of-town visitors can have a place to stay when they?re here.