Ulverston Conishead Priory holds its first Buddhist festival in 1994

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The first day of a large Buddhist gathering was held on Friday July 29, 1994, at the Manjushri Center in Conishead Priory, on the Furness Peninsula near Ulverston.

PRAYER: Joanne Geekie and Kelsang Dawa in the garden during the two-week festival at the Manjushri Buddhist Center at Conishead Priory in 1994

The festival was to bring together people from as far away as Brazil and Mexico.

The event would have an international atmosphere and spokesperson Jim Belither estimated that 250 visitors would come from abroad with a delegation of 50 arriving in Conishead from Switzerland.

To cope with the influx of guests, the Buddhist center had rented a tent with 1,000 places and dormitory tents to accommodate several hundred people.

The Mail reported that in the first week less experienced Buddhist students would engage in an introduction to the religion, but in the second week everyone would participate in daily meditation.

It would take the form of chanting in full voice and in silence.

Mr Belither said: “This is the third festival in a row that we have organized, but it is the largest yet, and could even be the largest gathering held in Britain to date.”

VISIT: Kelsang Dekyong helps set up some of the seats to welcome festival visitors in 1994

VISIT: Kelsang Dekyong helps set up some of the seats to welcome festival visitors in 1994

Anne Benson of the Mail visited the festival and wrote a special article. She said more than 800 people gathered.

She described how the smell of incense and the sound of singing wafted through the air.

People were lounging in the grass, sitting on the garden walls or walking around chatting with each other, she said, adding: “It’s like you’ve stumbled upon a large gathering of friends. having fun in the sun. ”

FESTIVAL: Lucia Amaral, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, attending to the flowers before the opening of the two-week festival

FESTIVAL: Lucia Amaral, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, attending to the flowers before the opening of the two-week festival

Kelsang Jigme agrees: “It’s like a big family comes together and a chance to see new faces.”

Anne wrote that behind the simplicity and the tradition of peace and harmony was a clever administrative operation.

For example, in a corner of an office, a monk was using the desktop publication to print chants while on the table was a bundle of laser-printed stickers – reminders to be quiet during meditation.


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