Ketumati Buddhist Vihara is one of the main religious and cultural gathering places of the Buddhist Community in the North West of England. It is a perfect place for the adults to have Dhamma discussions and the children also benefit from this get-together. As well as being a strong religious landmark, Ketumati also holds a Dhamma School for all of the children who are keen to learn Buddhism.

Dhamma School is held every second Sunday of each month. Over 50 children of a range of ages come for the teachings and they are taught Buddhism and Sinhala at a series of progressing levels; Key Stage 1 (KS1) to Key Stage 4 (KS4). The youngest learners at Ketumati start their education at KS1 level and progress through the levels up to KS4. After KS4 their education is over and they are declared a true Buddhist. In each of the stages, different subjects are taught. Many of the smaller children learn about Jataka Tales (stories of the Buddha’s previous births), and other topics including short Buddhist chantings, writings and rules. As the children progress they are taught a wider range of subjects such as the life story of the Buddha, his enlightenment and strong Dhamma teachings such as the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path. Many of the younger classes are taught by parents of children but as the children start to enter into examinations they are taught by the priests of the temple. At the end of each year every child sits an exam and is given a certificate with their achievements printed.

 

Buddhism is not all that is taught to the children. As there are many functions that take place at the Vihara to mark special days of Buddha's life, many of the children do get the opportunity to "live and learn" Buddhist way of life. small performances for the entertainment of the parents.. In these religious festivals all of the children sing a traditional song and then the proceedings commence. At Katina celebrations there is a sermon from most of the monks of the neighboring cities on the importance of the day and a Thevara (a monks robe) is presented to one of the monks.

 

 

One of the main cultural celebrations is the Sri Lankan New Year which is celebrated on 14th April. There are many dances including both children and adults and many people come to watch. Traditional dances, songs, acting and readings take place and children at any age may join in the dances. Many children dance in groups and are instructed by parents and teachers but if the children wish to do so they may do dances in groups without the help of a teacher. Once all of the acting, singing and dancing has finished there are the fun and games, organized for the children and the adults while the winners of each of the events win a prize. This is not a competitive event but a fun end to the year for the children.  This is also the time that the children receive their certificates congratulating them on their exams.

 

Ketumati Buddhist Vihara Dhamma School and is a great place for all the Buddhist followers, both adults and children. One thing is for sure however, you are bound to gain many things out of the experience!