Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 27 October 2006.Phone: 706-790-9374
Description/AffiliationsWat Santidham is a Theravada Buddhist temple located in south Augusta, a region of town associated with tremendous growth. Wat Santidham is part of the Dhammagut Order in the United States of America, a network of approximately thirty Thai Buddhist temples across the country.
DemographicsThere are about 400-500 members on the mailing list. For regular services, however, attendance runs about 30-50 people. For larger ceremonies, attendance can be as high as 250-300 people. Most members are from Augusta, although some participants travel from Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina, as well as Savannah, Georgia. A large number of attendees are affiliated with Fort Gordon army base. A majority of members are of Thai and Laotian descent, and there are also some members of other southeastern Asian ethnicities, such as Burmese and Cambodian. There are a few Indian members and some Euro-American members, many of whom are military men married to Thai women. The predominant languages spoken are Thai and Laotian.
Activities and ScheduleAt 7 a.m., the monks preside over morning chanting. They may be by themselves, or joined by a few members. Following morning chanting, the monks work in the garden, on the computer, clean up around the center, or meet with visitors until lunch. Lunch is at eleven, and is Thai or Laotian food delivered daily by members, as the monks cannot purchase or prepare their own meals. (Meals are occasionally difficult to arrange, as members must often take time off work to attend to this.) After lunch, the monks engage in study about Buddhism, either reading or researching on the computer. In the evening, there is again chanting and sitting meditation, which frequently members attend. Afterwards, the monks might talk and answer questions.
Description of CenterWat Santidham is located on Old Waynesboro Road, a once-rural road now dotted with some signs of growth: new, inexpensive housing subdivisions, a nearby grocery shopping center. The center is about three miles away from the Augusta Proctor & Gamble plant, and less than a third of a mile away from the newly constructed Cross Creek High School.
History & ChallengesBefore 1986, anyone looking to attend a Theravada Buddhist temple in Augusta would need to travel to Atlanta, or to a temple in South Carolina affiliated with Fort Sumter. In that year, however, a group of Thai families pooled their money and time and eventually was able to bring to Augusta a monk from the Wat Bar Van Monkol in Bangkok: Thongsawasadee, who was then 36 years old. The center now has four monks in residence.