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Zen and the art of home improvement: House transformed into temple

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The Dhammapadipa Temple in Slateford, Edinburgh, Scotland. (Katielee Arrowsmith via SWNS)

By Sarah Ward via SWNS

A suburban home was converted into a stunning Thai Buddhist temple - which has been subject to a renovation worth $139,859 (£120,000).

The Dhammapadipa Temple, at 199 Slateford Road, Edinburgh, Scotland was opened in 2005 in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami on Boxing Day 2004.

It was going to be moved to a mansion in the south east of the city with the financial help of Leicester City FC chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, until his death in a helicopter tragedy in 2018.

Buddhist monks decided to stick with the temple's longterm home, and $58,274 (£50,000) was poured into a massive refurb, although many tradesmen contributed time and materials which would have brought the cost to around £120,000.

The Dhammapadipa Temple in Slateford, Edinburgh, Scotland. (Katielee Arrowsmith via SWNS)
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The temple is open to the public and ran a foodbank during the pandemic, as well as teaching meditation, which is popular with many non-Buddhists.

A new 1,102 lb (500 kg) gold leaf Buddha has gone on display, which will be exhibited in the National Museum of Scotland next year.

"The temple has existed since 2005, it was brought together as a result of the Thai community that came together after the tsunami in Asia," said Kachen Gerdphol, chairman of the temple.

"It has grown into a community hub for wellbeing, and holds meditation classes not-for-profit.

"We ran foodbanks there in the pandemic.

"It's a support for the community not just Thai Buddhists."

There are 20,000 Thai Buddhists in Scotland, with the majority in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

An A-listed mansion had been identified as a potential new home for the temple but the idea was shelved after the fatal helicopter crash in 2018 which killed the main benefactor.

Instead it will stay in the three-bed suburban home, which had two double garages converted into a prayer space.

The Dhammapadipa Temple in Slateford, Edinburgh, Scotland. (Katielee Arrowsmith via SWNS).

An extension was added for a smaller Buddha which was donated after being displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show, worth $23,309 (£20,000).

"They are a deeply generous family who continue to help," the chairman said.

"We have got a new gold leaf Buddha weighing 500kg which was gifted to us by quite a famous Thai designer, it is going to be the centre piece in a National Museum of Scotland exhibition on Buddhism.

"There were two double garages and we knocked down two separating walls, to create an 85 square foot Buddha hall.

"It was quite an event trying to get something like that into a residential house.

"We have had it for some time, it is not something we'd want to repeat again.

"We are open to all regardless of beliefs.

"We are quite a humble organization, things are picking up no end.

"The renovation cost around £50,000 but people and communities really got behind the project and gave us massive discounts.

"It would have been around £120,000 but for people giving us discounts and keeping prices down."

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