London Peace Pagoda, Battersea
Peace in the park
The London Peace Pagoda has been a landmark along the Thames for over 20 years - but what is a Buddhist Temple doing in Battersea?
At a time when the cold war and the fear of nuclear attack appeared to be escalating the offer of a Peace Pagoda to promote world peace and harmony certainly seemed appropriate.
One of four gilded statues of Buddha
It was offered to the people of London by the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order as part of the 1984 Greater London Council (GLC) Peace Year.
Nipponzan Myohoji is a religious movement that emerged from the Nichiren sect of Japanese Buddhism. They have been constructing Peace Pagodas as the spiritual focus to unify the movement for peace since 1947. They exist all around the world - in Europe, Asia and the United States.
The pagoda in Battersea was built by monks, nuns and followers of Nipponzan Myōhōji at the behest of The Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii (1885–1985), founder of the organisation.
The double-roofed structure, which is 33.5 m high and constructed from concrete and wood, is one of around 80 around the world and the second to be erected in a Western capital city, the first being in Vienna in 1983. It followed the UK's first Peace Pagoda completed in Milton Keynes in 1980.
The Pagoda has four large gilded bronze sculptures of Buddha on each of its four sides showing some of the Buddha's mudras (hand gestures). The gestures performed by the hands of a Buddha image have specific meanings that refer to some event in the life of the Buddha and denote a special characteristic, eg the image above showing the turning of the Wheel of Dharma.
The London Peace Pagoda is maintained by Wandsworth Borough Council and Reverend Gyoro Nagase offers prayers and serves the Pagoda on a daily basis.
The annual celebration in June brings together Buddhists from all different traditions as well as interfaith representatives who offer prayers for peace. There are also speeches and multicultural events. On 9th August, Nagasaki Day, a Floating Lantern ceremony takes place at dusk to commemorate all victims of war.
"I am delighted with the appearance of the precious stupa in London. May it assemble every effort to create peace. My wish has been accepted without question by the people of London and the world. Nothing gives me greater happiness than this in my whole life".
London Peace Pagoda, Battersea.
24th Anniversary Celebrations are due to take place at the Pagoda on Saturday, 20th June, beginning at 2pm with interfaith prayers and addresses for Peace, including a speech by Bruce Kent, CND.
This will be followed by a cultural programme of dance and music, including a live performance by peace activist singer/songwriter, David Ferrard, who will be travelling from Edinburgh specially for the occasion.
Free light refreshments will be offered at the end. Everyone is warmly invited to attend and offer flowers and incense at this colourful community event.
The Pagoda is located within Battersea Park. It is situated along the River Thames approximately half way between Albert Bridge and Chelsea Bridge.
Official opening times for Battersea Park are from 8am until dusk. However some gates are normally open earlier and stay open later to allow access to facilities in the park (e.g. sports activities or exhibitions).
last updated: 28/05/2009 at 14:08