Open house for Buddhist temple draws hundreds from Ogden, around the world

Sunday , October 01, 2017 - 3:25 PM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Thai Buddhists in attendance at an open house of the Thai Wat Chaimongkolvararam temple, 402 Wall Ave., couldn’t have been happier with the weather. 

A light rain welcomed them Sunday morning as the celebration began — bringing added blessings from heaven, they believe.

“If it’s a light rain, it’s kind of like a blessing from the Buddha,” said Siri Amornsuwan.

RELATED: 170 Buddhist monks gathering in Ogden as new temple opens next month

Phet Grover and Amornsuwan are two Ogden friends and some of the about 100 regular worshipers at the temple who have regularly searched there for peace and perspective, even as the temple was under construction for the past 11 years.

The two women said they were full of joy at seeing busloads of people from all over the world — including California, Florida and Thailand — unloading at the entrance of the small temple Sunday.

“They came from all over,” Grover said. “It’s very nice.”

The friends smiled as they watched the visitors adding gold leaf to dozens of decorations to adorn the outside of the temple and have their pictures taken with some of the 170 monks from throughout the country in attendance at Sunday’s event.

Many of the monks in attendance engaged in public chanting as they celebrated the 80th birthday of Phra-thep Putweithep Thepbuddhivides, president of Thai Bhikkhus in the United States.

The two longtime friends are transplants to Utah. Grover is originally from Laos, a country next to Thailand, and then from California, and Amornsuwan is from Thailand.

The friends hope publicity around the open house will serve as invitation for area residents to take advantage of temple offerings. They called the surroundings their personal oasis.

Sunday’s open house drew hundreds of Buddhists and non-Buddhists, who enjoyed eating free food offerings served by monks and watching the festivities.

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“It’s just like a family here,” Amornsuwan said. “When you are depressed, when you need someone to talk to, when you want to do meditations, you can come here and ask for help.”

“A lot of people are going to know about it now,” Grover said. “A lot of people can come in. It doesn’t matter what they believe. You can just show up.”

Anytime a person wants to pay respect for the Buddha, ask Buddha for a blessing, give a donation or find someone to talk to, they are welcome at the temple, Amornsuwan said. 

The two friends said transferring their worship from the Layton Wat Thai Dhammagunaram temple to the new location was not only convenient but the process also added to their lives.

No doubt the two learned much from the way Temple Abbot and President Venerable Phramaha Suphat Sukyai went about setting up the temple grounds.

Grover said she helped Sukyai select the location 11 years ago.

“We saw this location and thought it would be good,” Grover said. “It is busy and people see it easily.”

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Building the temple took 11 years because Sukyai was following Thai Buddhist rules that require him to personally touch all aspects of the construction and to wait for donations to arrive, allowing him to fund the building, Amornsuwan said.

Relying on the supernatural is an important lesson Grover said she learned from watching Sukyai through the process of finding the support he needed and building a temple.

“He cannot ask for help,” Grover said. “He is just waiting for donations.”

Explaining that donations are personal decisions by the donors, Grover said, funds arrive in their own time. 

She watched as Sukyai relied on unseen forces for financial help at the right times.

“He told us once that he did not have enough money for something,” Grover said. “Pretty soon, a check came in the mail.”

One new addition coming to the temple is a house purchased south of the property, Amornsuwan said.

The abbot is planning to remodel the house to allow for a museum and a meditation center for the public, she said.

“In the future, the temple will be bigger and more people will come,” Amornsuwan said.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis. 

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