I love when you discover some interesting part of your city that you never knew existed. This was the case as we were driving around the city and happened upon a Laotian Buddhist temple. We’ve lived here for 2 years- how did we not know this was here? We pulled into the parking lot and were immediately struck with the beautiful artistry on the buildings.
Surrounding the area is a long red brick fence with yellow tops. Each pillar along this fence is a memorial for someone who has passed away. The families pay for the space and then are given free license to decorate it as they wish. Some of the memorials were simply and lovingly adorned while others were quite elaborate and striking. It was so interesting to walk down each side of the fence and look at the memorials created to honor memories.
This is the only Laos specific temple in Tennessee. We marveled at the beautiful design of the temple building with its intricately painted and carved pieces. We especially loved the two dragons that sit atop of the stairs. Apparently there is also a Thai Buddhist temple on the other side of town and the two will often come together for festivals aimed at sharing their culture, music, and food with the community.
While visitors are not allowed into the temple itself, the gathering building welcomes people to come in and learn. It was the end of the day and a soft spoken woman met us at the door. We took off our shoes and followed her into the gathering building where we were met with a wall of colorful representations of the Buddha and signs of devotion.
The woman patiently walked us around the room pointing out the different features. Framed photos of some of the past monks who have lived and served her line the wall, including a picture of the man who first set about bringing this temple to creation.
Along the back wall is a row of golden Buddhas with a small bowl sitting in front of them. Each Buddha represents a day of the week. You give your offering to the Buddha for the day of the week you were born. This is suppose to bring you good fortune.
They were still working on cleaning up from the Laos New Year that they celebrated here at the end of May. The woman showed us the gong used in some of the ceremonies. There were also stands of colorful flowers and beautiful red and gold arbor standing against the wall. I made a point of writing down the dates for next years festivities so we can come and be part of such an incredible event.
After our tour of the gathering place, we went back outside to see some more of the exterior. We saw a small group of monks as they finished their chores for the day and went inside their humble house that sits in-between the temple and the gathering place. We walked around a lovely patio type area with golden dragons marking the entrance.
What is really interesting is that near this temple is all the Civil War historical sites of the area. Such a strange and almost startling contrast between the two places. But what a honor to come and visit this beautiful temple and to step out of Tennessee and step into a small look into the beliefs of the people of Laos. Of anything we have discovered here in our town of Murfreesboro, this is by far my favorite place.
For another look at some interesting religious places, you may want to consider these:
Thanks for joining me in my discovery of the Wat Lao Buddharam. May you find joy and comfort in your quiet devotion.