Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 11 October 2009.Phone: 770-987-8442
HistoryBefore they opened this center, the community used to worship in their homes, at a local Thai temple, or a Cambodian temple nearby. Because most of the monks at these other temples did not speak english, the Sir Lankan community would invite Sri Lankan monks to come talk in their homes or arrange special visits at the other Theravadan temples.
At some point a Sri Lankan monk came from California to the area to train other Theravadan monks. He knew a Sir Lankan family from Texas who wanted to establish dhamma centers throughout the United States and had already established a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple in Tampa. He told them about the Atlanta community and they decided to donate land and a building to establish a center in the Atlanta area. They bought a house and land in Lithonia in March 2000 and the community in Georgia began to renovate the house.
The community invited two Sri Lankan monks who moved into the temple in May 2000 before renovations had been completed. The Buddha image the community had ordered from Sri Lankan arrived and they opened the Vihara on June 3, 2000 with visitors from across the country including Tibetan, Sri Lankan, and Cambodian monks and Chinese monks and nuns.
DemographicsThe center is open to everyone although they expect that the majority of temple visitors will be Sri Lankan. Most of these Sri Lankans speak both English and Sinhalese. The sermons will be in Sinhalese or English and the prayers, as in other Theravadan traditions, will be in Pali.
Most visitors at the temple opening came as families with couples ranging from late twenties to sixties and their children from infants to mid-twenties.
DescriptionThe center used to be a private residence. Although the Vihara currently sits on at least two acres, the previous owner had sold off part of the property earlier for a new subdivision. The main structure on the center's property is a house that had required renovation before the two resident monks could move in. The community painted the outside of the wooden house white. There is a porch in the front of this one-story structure that leads to the main shrine room. As you walk in you face the large, golden sitting Buddha who is about five feet tall. A few windows line the wall on the right and two doorways on the left lead to the monks' rooms. A passageway behind and to the left of the Buddha leads to the kitchen and dining area. The kitchen contains a bulletin board with community information (including a renovation schedule), an island countertop, a refrigerator, stove, and oven. The kitchen opens to the dining area that, at the opening ceremony, was able to accomodate at least four long tables along which all of the monks and nuns sat as they were fed.
The bathroom and a few other rooms that may have been storage areas are off a hallway behind the kitchen. A door on the left of this hallway opens to the backward that had been arranged with tables to service food, a podium and folding chairs for ceremonies later in the day, and an open tent to provide shade on this hot afternoon.
A few other buildings sit on the property: a run-down barn, and a wooden bathhouse with a public restroom next to an empty pool. Off to the right of the property (if you face the front of the house) is an open grassy area on which most of the cars had been parked.
Center ActivitiesBecause the center is so new the community has not yet developed a schedule. A member told me that as people in the community want to arrange regular meetings and worship, the Vihara would schedule them. Because the monks live on the property the temple is open at any time and people are welcome to walk in.
The one activity the community has planned is a Sunday school class for the children.
Again, my contacts stressed that the temple is open to anyone who wants to learn about Theravada Buddhism.
Researcher: Jennifer B. Saunders, June 14, 2000