Origins of Fo Guang Shan Manchester
Venerable Master Hsing Yun established Fo Guang Shan temple in Manchester, the second Fo Guang Shan temple set up in the UK after London. This met the needs of the growing desire for a space in the North of England, and provided a place to learn and practice teachings of Buddha. With the endeavour of the members of BLIA Manchester, “Fo Guang Buddhist Propagation Centre” was established in August 1993 on Faulkner Street in Chinatown. When the number of followers increased, it was soon apparent that a bigger venue was needed to conduct Buddhist activities. Eventually, through one of the committee members (Cheung Ming) a new venue was found on the 1st floor of the Chung Yee Building, Portland Street, just outside China Town. The lease contract for the venue was signed on the 21st of September, and after the renovation, the opening ceremony was held on the 5th of December. Present were Venerable Yi I, the director of the London Fo Guang Shan Temple; Venerable Chueh Yann and Venerable Chueh Jong as well as two hundred strong members including the committee and members of BLIA London. Amongst the invited guests were Mr. and Mrs. Ng Kwun Yi, the Chinese Deputy Consulate in the UK; Mr. Leung Kwok Fu, the Chairman of Manchester Chinese Groups; Master Chu Shui Hang from the Lion Dance Group and Chairperson Ni Shi-Jian of BLIA London. It was the first official Buddhist centre in Manchester and was named by Venerable Master Hsing Yun as “Manchester Fo Guang Shan Meditation Centre”.
On the 20th of August 1994, Venerable Master Hsing Yun came to Manchester to hold a ceremony on the inauguration meeting of BLIA Manchester. The members expressed the desire to have a permanent presence for the Sangha in Manchester and to start a fundraising programme for the purchase of land or building for a new temple. Consequently, Venerable Chueh Hai arrived on the 20th of September, followed by Venerable Man Yao in early 1995. After two years’ development, there came a point where it was necessary to acquire permanent premises for the temple and its followers. Members of BLIA Manchester began the search until June 1996 when Venerable Tzu Chuang, the Head of Overseas Supervising Committee, arrived in Manchester on her visit to Europe. By happy coincidence, the property where the temple currently resides was for sale. After initial viewing, it was found to have the potential to be developed as a Buddhist temple. On the 12th of August, when Venerable Master Hsing Yun came to Manchester again to hold the Three Refugees Ceremony and to give a talk on Dharma, he took the opportunity to view the building, and agreed and decided to acquire it and renovate it as a temple. This was executed by Venerable Man Yao and Chairperson Andrew Yu of BLIA Manchester. The purchase was completed in the middle of August, and on the 4th of October, the organisation moved into the premises, to which Venerable Master Hsing Yun had given the name “Manchester Fo Guang Shan”.
Upholding Venerable Master’s vision in education, Manchester Fo Guang Shan espouses the educational heritage of its building, which was built more than a hundred years ago, initially as a public library in honour of Queen Victoria, and was subsequently turned into a college. In fact, one of the terms and conditions of sale in 1996 was to uphold this status of being an educational institution, and the impression of Venerable Master’s vision in education greatly helped the purchase of the premises.
The building has three storeys and a basement. After years of renovation, it now consists of the Main Shrine, the Shrine of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (Guan Yin) and the Shrine of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (Di Zang). A statue of Sakyamuni Buddha is enshrined in the Main Shrine, which can accommodate more than two hundred people, surrounded by the mosaic of the images of the Buddha that cover the walls. A statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is placed in the Shrine of Guan Yin surrounded by images of the bodhisattvas on the walls. A statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva can be found in the Shrine of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, where the commemorative plates for the departed could be set, and behind which rooms for ashes are provided.
Additionally, there are also other facilities such as the kitchen, the dining hall, the library, reception, as well as rooms for meditation, conference, classes and accommodation.