P.E.I. Buddhist monks welcome outside world this weekend
1,800 visitors have already registered online for either Saturday or Sunday open house
P.E.I.'s Buddhist monks are opening the doors wide for their biggest-ever open house this weekend at their monastery complex in Little Sands.
The Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS) has made the Island their home for the last eight years. They've built up a large compound of about a dozen buildings, which they've said is worth about $10 million, and still expanding. Hundreds of Asian monks study there year-round.
"This is just a way for us to make personal connections with Islanders," said Venerable Dan, GEBIS public affairs spokesperson.
"This weekend, the Mother's Day weekend, will be a perfect opportunity for us to open the door and welcome Islanders and friends to come in and get to know more about us."
Islanders can tour the facilities, which include a prayer hall for up to 500 monks adorned with gold-plated Buddha statues, and living accommodations where the monks bunk in austere, 10-man rooms.
They'll also show off some of their traditional handwork including drawing and intricate, colourful sculpture created from butter.
'A wonderful experience'
"A lot of monks are pretty nervous, cause they've never spoken English before," said Venerable Dan.
Because of the popularity of past open houses — 1,200 people came to last year's one-day open house — GEBIS is asking Islanders to pre-register for the open house on either May 7 or 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The address is 12174 Shore Rd., Little Sands, four kilometres east of the Wood Islands Information Centre.
About 1,800 people have already registered on their website, gebisociety.org/openhouse. No one will be turned away, said Venerable Dan, but parking could become a problem if too many folks show up.
"Come join us for a wonderful experience," said Venerable Liu in a message on the event's Facebook page.
Celebrating Mothers Day
The open house will show how monks live their daily lives at the monastery, and include "a demonstration of student monks learning using Buddhist debate on the Buddhist philosophy," said Liu, as well as "an exhibition of acts and stories of kindness between the Islander and the monks over the past few years."
The monks will also showcase how they celebrate Mothers Day, which is Sunday, "by showing appreciation to the kindness of their mothers," said Liu.
The monks have become known for their home made baked goods, and Islanders are invited to sample them.
The whole tour should take 60 to 90 minutes, Venerable Liu said.
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With files from Angela Walker