The first sod has been turned at the site of what will be Canberra’s first Titetan Buddhist temple.
A ceremony was held on Wednesday at the temple’s future site at Kambah which was officiated by Tibetan Buddhist Society of Canberra leader Lama Choedak Rinpoche and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
“We want to promote very social initiatives at the temple to promote peace and stop violence, stop drug addiction,” said Lama Rinpoche.
“We want it to be a very community friendly centre, not a cultural ethnic centre”.
In June 2017 the ACT Government granted the Tibetan Buddhist Society of Canberra a direct land grant of a block in Kambah, adjacent to the Sri Lankan and Laotian Buddhist temples.
The Stupa Temple of Peace will cost $2.9 million to complete. About $2.3m will be raised from the public to ensure completion by early 2019.
The temple will be open for the public. Meditation classes and cultural events will also be held there.
A model of the future temple. Photo: Karleen Minney
The society was founded in 1989 by Lama Rinpoche, who escaped to Nepal with his family in 1959 after the communist Red Army invaded Tibet.
After growing up in a Tibetan refugee camp he became a monk and migrated to Australia in 1985, completing his PhD at ANU.
The Society has been conducting classes at the Rongton Buddhist College in Evatt for more than 20 years, and Lama Rinpoche said the temple will allow the society engage further with the wider community.
The ground floor of the proposed two storey temple will be a public space, incorporating a meditation hall which will have seating for 100 people.
A large nine-metre stupa, a Buddhist monument, will be positioned at the front of the temple.
“This temple will bring a distinct Tibetan architecture to the cultural landscape of our city,” Mr Barr said.
Mr Barr said the development of the Kambah precinct reflected how Canberra is maturing.
“We’re growing out of being a small country town into being a fully-fledged city in our own right and this represents another important step in that journey.”