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October 07, 2016
BGKT Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada) 25th anniversary

BGKT Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada) celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding in September 1991 at a retreat on 25th September at Fellside Centre Kendal led by Venerable Pidiville Piyatissa Head of Ketumati Buddhist Vihara Manchester and Venerable Udunuwara Indarathana. The Theravada School of Buddhism is the oldest school of Buddhism and is practiced in the five Theravada Buddhist countries of Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

Lama Yeshe Rinpoche Abbot and Retreat Master of Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre in Scotland sent a beautiful sentence on Buddhist traditions working together, which was read out at the celebrations.

Venerable Pidiville Piyatissa Maha Thera, Head of Ketumati Buddhist Vihara Manchester, has been teaching and offering Precepts for BGKT since 1999. Ketumati acquired a beautiful new Monastery in 2015 which has offered us opportunities to develop our Buddhist practice. We assist by leading meditation at meditation retreats.

Venerable Dr Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Mahanayaka Thera Aggamaha Pandita Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru DLitt DLitt one of the world's most senior Theravada Buddhist Monks and Venerable Henepola Gunaratana Maha Thera (an internationally respected meditation master and author) agreed to become BGKT's spiritual advisors.

Many other senior Monks have visited BGKT at Fellside Centre including a cave dwelling Monk from Sri Lanka. Venerable Medagama Vajiragnana Mahanayaka Thera OBE the most senior Sri Lankan Monk in the UK visited in 2000. A collection of books from the library of Ajahn Pannyavaddho Thera ((1925 - 2004) the most senior western monk in Thailand) was donated to BGKT's library.

We have good relations with and are in regular contact with other small Cumbrian Buddhist Groups. Special mention must be made of Keswick Theravada Buddhist Group with which we have run joint meetings and retreats and who have supported us since 1991. Some of our attendees became unable to attend meetings because of family commitments. We all wished to find an ongoing way to continue practising together. In 2008 CMDM Cumbria Moon Day Meditation started enabling attendees of the Theravada Buddhist Groups in Cumbria to meditate at home from 7-9 pm on the four monthly moon days.

We led a meditation and gave a talk at the Sakyadhita UK (International Association of Buddhist Women) meeting at Fellside Centre Kendal in 2009.

We have a close relationship with Kendal Town Council. The Mayor of Kendal usually attends to BGKT's annual Vesak celebrations. Vesak, celebrated on the May full moon marks three events in the life of the Buddha: birth, enlightenment, and passing away. BGKT has led the prayers before a Kendal Town Council meeting, walked in the Mayor's Sunday Civic Procession an attended Mayor Making Ceremonies. Councillor Gwen Murfin, Mayor of Kendal requested that a celebration Pali Blessing Ceremony be conducted in the Mayor's Parlour in Kendal Town Hall in 2007, to celebrate Jacquetta Gomes's inclusion in Burkes Landed Gentry as a Contemporary Person of Distinction.

BGKT is represented on the South Lakeland Community Recovery Group for the floods, and on SLEDP South Lakeland Equality and Diversity Partnership. BGKT ran a Pilot Project on faith with CFRS Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service at Kendal Fire Station and produced the first acknowledged female Buddhist Fire Chaplain in the world.

Members have taken part in interfaith activities in South Lakeland. We attended the enthronement of Rt Rev James Newcombe as the Bishop of Carlisle, at Carlisle Cathedral in 2009. BGKT has spoken at several Conferences including the Manchester Buddhist Convention.

Introducing Buddhism by Venerable Dr Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Mahanayaka Thera Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru Aggamaha Pandita DLitt DLitt (1896-1998) and Jacquetta Gomes has been published in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, UK, and USA. BGKT's writings have been included in The Chinese Buddhist Encyclopaedia and The Buddhist elibrary and journals. We contributed to an article in the Spring 2016 issue of the internationally respected New York based Buddhist journal Tricycle (which is also celebrating its 25th anniversary).

We hope the next 25 years will be as wonderful, beneficial and peaceful as the first. We are very grateful to everyone who has supported us. We find it helpful to practise with people we have been in contact with for over 20 years but are also very happy when new people join us.
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