Wat Promkunaram

This profile was last updated in 2004

History

WatA wat (Thai) or watt (Cambodian) is a Buddhist temple-monastic complex. Thai and Cambodian temples typically have two sections, one in which both monks and laity worship the Buddha, and the other reserved for the monastic community. The former typically i... Promkunaram is a Buddhist templeBuddhist temples differ considerably from one another depending upon culture and particular school, but most are associated with the residence of the sangha of monks. Theravada temples focus on one or more images of Sakyamuni Buddha. In Mahayana and Vajra..., monasteryA monastery is the residence of monks, or monastics; the term is commonly used in both the Christian and Buddhist traditions. Monasticism refers to the life of work, study, and discipline led by monks and nuns. and cultural center created with the help of the Thai government by three Thai monksA monk is a man who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully ord... in 1983. At first a very small templeA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... located in the Phoenix metropolitanA Metropolitan is the title given to a bishop, used especially in the Orthodox family of churches today. area, the community purchased five acres of isolated farmland in 1985 and opened a new temple in the rural, far west Valley city of Waddell in 1989. The temple was stunned by the massacre of six monks, a nunA nun is a woman who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully or... and two other temple affiliates in 1991 (a tragedy that remains Arizona’s largest massMass is a term used in the Roman Catholic Church for the ritual that culminates in the celebration of the Eucharist, the central rite of sharing the consecrated bread and wine in the church community. murder) but has recovered to become a vital center for local TheravadinTheravada, literally “the way of the elders,” was one of the eighteen earliest sub-schools of Buddhism. Today, the term designates the various traditions of Buddhism most prominent in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Although these traditions differ in i... Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese and Cambodian Buddhists, as well as serving Mahayanist Buddhists and non-Buddhists.

Activities and Schedule

Open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., the main prayerPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not. hall (sala) is available to the public for prayer and meditationMeditation is the disciplined practice of quieting and focusing the mind or cultivating the heart’s attention. Different meditation practices commend focusing attention on a word, a prayer, a form, or the breath as a way of practice. Meditation is commo.... The monks maintain a structured schedule of daily activities from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m., including prayersPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not. and meditation, work on the temple grounds and counseling, preaching and teaching in scheduled classes or when guests visit. The Wat operates a Buddhist Sunday School for Thai-American children but it is also open to any interested community members. The center also holds Thai language classes, classical dance lessons, instruction in meditation, and special merit-making ceremonies for marking particular family milestones such as births, marriages and deaths.

Connected with its role as a community center, the Wat annually hosts eight major Theravadin Buddhist festivals. Many of these festivals, such as Loy Krathong or Magha PujaFor the religious traditions of India, the term puja simply means “worship.. For Hindus, puja is the sequence of hospitality rites through which worshippers honor a deity with offerings such as water, fruit, a coconut, cloth, incense, and an oil lamp, a... Day, display regional traditions distinctive to Buddhist communities in southeast Asia.

Demographics

The monks resident at the center are predominantly Thai, though also including Euro-American Buddhist monks. The community served — mostly Thais in the Valley in some cases for over three generations– spans a number of different age groups. The modern monasticA monk is a man who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully ord... population is all male, while at worship services women may have slightly outnumbered the men present.

Description

The center complex was placed in a distant rural setting that, over the years, has become less remote as the Phoenix metropolitan area has expanded. The main prayer hall building has living quarters for the monks and offices in the back– it includes a small library. A large community hall is nearby on the grounds, and is attached to a kitchen and dining hall. It is used for receptions, parties and other social events. The buildings are surrounded by gardens which the monks maintain, and the garden contains various small shrines (including one dedicated to the victims of the 1991 massacre).