My visit to Nan Tien Buddhist Temple

Tuesday 30th September, 2008

Today I travelled to Nan Tien buddhist temple to take photos for Wollongong Northern Leader and their magazine, ‘Coast’. The brief was to take photos of the temple, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, and include a photo with a buddhist monk.

Nan Tien is a nunnery, so my portrait subject was Ven. Ru Yi who was at the temple as part of a HSC study camp. She told me about the youth camp in January 2009 which includes activities for youths and is an important event for Nan Tien temple.

She had such a peaceful, happy demeanour and agreed to a series of photos featuring the incense burner located outside the main shrine that you can only get to by ascending two flights of stairs, as if ascending to heaven.

Not long after our photosession there was the call to prayer and Ru Yi made her way inside to pray. Two nuns took up position outside the main temple beside a drum and a bell. They alternated their percussion with a rhythmic pattern that I did not understand but I appreciated the ritual and the vibrations from the beating of the drum and ringing of the bell by moving a wooden log to meet with the bell.

Soon after the drum and bell were silenced there was an announcement on the PA that the temple would be closing and we visitors were asked to leave. I was told that there would be a light dinner for the people who are staying at the temple, followed by prayer and other activities. The temple is open to the public six days a week (closed on MOndays) and there is accommodation available for weekend retreats and special events.

I would love to stay overnight at the temple and experience more of the calming, serene lifestyle and see more of the largest buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere.

The Nan Tien Temple is located in Berkely and is accessible by bus from Westfield Warrawong on a #34 Premier Illawarra bus, the bus stops at the back entrance of the temple and it is a very short walk into the temple grounds.

Nan Tien Temple
Berkeley Road, Berkeley, N.S.W. 2506, Australia
Tel: +61 (2) 4272 0600
Fax: +61 (2) 4272 0601

My visit to Nan Tien Buddhist Temple

Vanessa Pike-Russell

Lake Illawarra, Australia

  • Artist
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