Buddha on the Bayou

June 17, 2008

Author: Dan Anderson

Source: The Buddhist Channel


There are over 500 Christian churches in the Mobile area, according to usachurch.com. The South has a reputation for being heavily Christian, so this number should come as a surprise to no one.

But take a drive through Irvington, down Murray Heights Drive where the pavement ends and the dirt road begins and where the trailers begin to replace the houses, and you will find something surprising. Behind a metal gate stands the Asian Community Center, a gold colored statue of the Buddha and an empty lot where a Lao Buddhist temple once stood.

On March 23 the five monks of the Wat Buddharaska Temple left in the early morning to visit a Thai family in Panama City, Fla. Later that morning, the temple started to burn.

“I got a call from the neighborhood,” says Chaiwat Moleechate, Temple abbot. “They said ‘Do you know the temple has fire coming out of it?’ and I didn’t know what was going on.”

According to local authorities, the fire started in the kitchen area of the temple. No one was harmed in the fire, but everything inside was damaged from the smoke and the water. Now the temple, one of four serving the diverse Asian communities in south Alabama, is looking to rebuild.