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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Chief monk Thalangama Devananda was joined by other monks, members and visitors to celebrate the Indiana Buddhist Temple’s 10th anniversary Sunday.
Celebrating a decade of good karma

Buddhist temple’s boon

Visitors, structure have grown over years

Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Bhante Punyasiri, a monk from Los Angeles, speaks to those in attendance at the Indiana Buddhist Temple on Thompson Road on Sunday.

Indiana Buddhist Temple’s abbot, or chief monk, Thalangama Devananda welcomes people of all religions to the temple and doesn’t push anyone into converting to Buddhism.

Meditation, a practice associated with Buddhism, is important and relevant to everyone, and that’s Devananda’s message, he said.

Devananda has been accepting more members over the years, while the temple has also grown to accommodate more people. The temple celebrated its 10th anniversary with a special meditation session and lunch on Sunday that drew about 40 people.

“Honestly, I’m very happy,” Devananda said of the special day.

It’s been rewarding to watch the temple grow and attract not just Sri Lankans, but Americans as well, he said.

The temple moved from Webster Street to 7528 Thompson Rd. in Hoagland to provide more parking for members. Bob Rynes, a member for nearly four years, helped build an addition to the current location after many of the meditations were standing room only. The nearly 800 square-foot addition can now accommodate well over 100 people, he said.

Sisira Ranasinghe, who founded the temple with his wife, said he’s elated to see how far the organization has come in 10 years. Devananda announced Sunday that an American man will study under him to become an ordained monk. Ranasinghe said the news is exciting for a temple that started with just a few people.

Devananda invited two monks to celebrate the occasion: Bhante Punyasiri, the chief monk at Maithree Vinara Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles and another from Chicago. Punyasiri was to lead a special afternoon session and spoke during a shorter meditation to begin the day.

“Indeed, it is very, very beautiful,” Punyasiri said of the temple. “In my mind I’ve copied some things to do in my temple.”

He said the anniversary is worthy of celebration, but not with dances or parties. He encouraged members and others who came to meditate to remember those who have helped the temple become what it is today.

Ranasinghe said the temple is supported entirely through private donations.

Ray Gabet’s first time at the temple was in 2004 when it was celebrating its one-year anniversary.

Nine years later, Gabet is a regular at the temple’s Monday night meditations.

“I don’t consider myself a Buddhist, but I greatly respect the teaching and philosophy,” Gabet said. “It’s a very beneficial way of life.”

Studying Buddhism and meditating has helped Elly Hernawati think before she speaks and made her more aware of what she communicates through her body language.

“It gives me a great sense of peace,” she said.