Watlao Buddhovath of Rhode Island (Southeast Asian Cultural Center of New England)

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 24 October 2006.

Phone: 401-232-7696
Email: contact@Watlaori.org
Website: http://www.watlao.cjb.net
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Activities and Schedule

Chanting, Meditation, and Dharma Talks: Daily, 4:30 A.M., noon, and 6 P.M.
Sunday School: first grade 2 P.M., Student Dharma Talks 3:30 P.M., and second grade 4 P.M.
Adult Classes/Public Night: Wednesday, 6:30 P.M.


The Watlao Buddhovath of Rhode Island was established by a Laotian American immigrant family in 1986. It was originally located on Eddy Street in Providence, but, when the growing Rhode Island Laotian Buddhist population (especially in Woonsocket) needed more space, the wat was moved to its current location in Smithfield. In 1993, the existing house and garage were converted for religious purposes. On April 30, 1997, the Smithfield Zoning Board granted the site to the wat with a permit for constructing a new place of worship.
The purpose of the wat is to provide a place for worshipping, educating youth in Buddhist religious and ethical teachings, and preserving and cultivating Laotian customs and culture for the growing Southeast Asian Buddhist population in the state and region. It perceives its most important mission as providing its youth with religious and cultural education and activities. The wat also offers its members spiritual and psychological counseling, and seeks to promote Buddhist morality and ethics with the goal of building a better community.
The monks conduct formal Buddhist services, including morning, noon, and evening chants, meditation, and dharma talks. They also occasionally perform new house blessings and funeral rites. The wat administers a Sunday School as well as a Performing Arts School that teaches traditional Laotian dance. In addition, it offers lessons in citizenship and opportunities for community service.
The center itself currently consists of an existing residence and garage situated on 15 acres of wooded upland. The residence is a 1.5 story Cape-style single family house, and behind it is the oversized garage structure and several smaller sheds. Technically, a wat is a Buddhist compound where monks reside, and so it necessarily comprises a kuti (monastery), an uposatha (place for storing scriptures), a haw kawng (drum tower), and various thaat (shrines).
The wat maintains an elaborate website in both Lao and English with community news, a special events calendar, information on educational and recreational activities, a picture gallery, and links to other North American watlaos--as well as considerable information about its ongoing project to construct a large, $1.5 million temple and community center by the year 2005.

Location and Directions

From Interstate 295 take Exit 8 to Route 7 South. Take a left onto Limerock Road. The wat is on the left.