Vajiradhammapadip Temple: New York’s Hub for Thai Culture and Religion

The Theravada Buddhist Temple Vajiradhammapadip has become both New York and the United States’ main center for Thai religion and culture. It has brought both Thai peoples and others of different faiths and nationalities to celebrate Thailand’s vast culture together.

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Pharamaha Suwannarat Saensupa, Buddhist monk at The Vajiradhammapadip Temple sweeping pavement of the front entrance of Vajiradhammapadip Temple as part of daily mid afternoon routine for Buddhist monks at Vajiradhammapadip Temple Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Centereach, NY (Photo by Victoria Lore/Full Sail University)

Originally located in the West Bronx, New York, Vajiradhammapadip Temple had relocated to both Mount Vernon and Centereach, New York do to the growth of temple members.

Since it’s large growth and relocations, Vajiradhammapadip Temple has shared its religious services, courses in Thai and Pali languages, Thai music, and overall culture with the Long Island and the Tri-State area community.

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Phra Kittiyanides, Abbot monk and President of Vajiradhammapadip Temple walking inside the temple practicing Zen meditation in order to achieve complete awareness with ones surroundings Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Centereach, NY (Photo by: Victoria Lore/Full Sail University)

“It is an honor to share our faith and traditions with those who may not be familiar with our religion and culture,” said Phramaha Suwannarat Saensupa, monk at Vajiradhammapadip Temple in Centereach. “We are able to keep the Thai religion and traditions alive through our courses, events, and activities that are offered to the community.”

Vajiradhammapadip Temple offers Buddhist Sunday School classes, which is its main activity in the temple, along with lessons in the Thai language, morals, and general social studies. For young students, special lessons are offered in painting, Thai dance, and Thai swordplay, which are taught by both monk-residents and volunteers. Lessons in the Pali and Thai languages, Southeast Asian and Thai studies, and Thai literature are also offered for English-speaking students. Meditation training is given as well depending on if there is a meditation-master monk currently in residence at the temple or if a visiting monk is invited by the temple to hold sessions.

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Phra Kittiyanides, Abbot monk and President of Vajiradhammapadip Temple practicing deep meditation to alter of Buddha in order to reach spiritual freedom and enlightenment Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore/Full Sail University)

Saensupa discussed how Vajiradhammapadip Temple has kept the Thai population on Long Island together.

“Many of the Thai people who come here feel that they are back at home in Thailand. They are able to speak their native language and interact with monks, family, and friends to celebrate the Thai culture together that they know and are proud,” said Saensupa. “This is what draws Thai immigrants to congregate here.”

Saensupa started his journey as a Buddhist monk back in his native country of Thailand as a novice in order to become closer to his religion and to receive a better education.

“I was raised to be a divot Buddhist as a child, I was one out of four children, and my parents wanted me to receive a good education which lead me to become a Buddhist monk.”

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Phramaha Suwannarat Saensupa, Buddhist monk at Vajiradhammapadip Temple sweeping the steps to the entrance of Vajiradhammapadip Temple as part of daily mid afternoon routine for Buddhist monks at Vajiradhammapadip Temple Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore/Full Sail University

As a monk in Thailand, Saensupa was recruited to come to the United States in 2007 by Phra Kittiyanides, the Abbot and President of Vajiradhammapadip Temple in Centereach. When the temple first opened, Saensupa helped the start of the temple by contributing and writing in Vajiradhammapadip Temple’s magazine and their newsletters.

“I enjoy being a monk. It keeps my roots strong and in touch with my culture,” said Saensupa. “It’s rewarding to practice Buddhism with other Buddhist and share our beliefs and traditions with others of different cultures and backgrounds. Vajiradhammapadip Temple is always open to all people.”

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Phramaha Suwannarat Saensupa, Buddhist monk at Vajiradhammapadip Temple preparing to head inside the temple for the late afternoon and second meditation session of the day as part of routine for Buddhist monks at Vajiradhammapadip Temple Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore/Full Sail University)

 

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