Miller St. Building to Become Monastery

May 4, 2008


Source: The Buddhist Channel/Observer-Dispatch,6335,0,0,1,0

If the design plan on the wall of a nondescript building on Kemble Street is any indication, the city soon will have a Buddhist monastery and a temple, complete with pagodas.

After years of looking at sites around the city, the Burmese Buddhist community last month bought an apartment building on Miller Street that it plans to convert to a monastery and a meditation center.

The five-unit house at 1005 Miller St. once served as a homeless housing project of Utica Community Action Inc. It was sold to GroWest, a neighborhood development agency, in 2005 for about $3,300, according to Oneida County records. GroWest confirmed the sale of the building to the Burmese community.

For about five years, Monk Ashin Pyinnyar Nanda, who came to Utica in 2003, dreamed of building a monastery. The community that totals about 60 families in the city has taken its first step toward fulfilling Nanda’s vision.

It was born out of need. The Burmese Buddhist population in Utica has grown over the years, and the small living room that houses the Buddha was too small. On festival days, the celebrations would have to move to the backyard, where a tent is erected, Nanda said.

“It’s small, it’s inconvenient,” he said through translator Aung Soe.

Nanda’s vision includes a golden pagoda, a meditation center and a Sunday school to teach children the tradition and language of their homeland, Nanda said.

“They have to respect American culture but also teach Buddhism,” he said. “But we need to live by our own rules and culture.”