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London's peace pagoda

London Peace Pagoda, Battersea
London Peace Pagoda, Battersea

At a time when the Cold War and the fear of a nuclear attack were escalating the offer of a Peace Pagoda to promote world harmony seemed appropriate.

It was offered to the people of London by the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order as part of the 1984 Greater London Council (GLC) Peace Year.

Nipponzan Myohoji is a religious movement that emerged from the Nichiren sect of Japanese Buddhism.

Aerial view of the pagoda
Aerial view of the pagoda

They have been constructing Peace Pagodas, as the spiritual focus to unify the movement for peace, since 1947 and they exist all around the world including Europe, Asia and the United States.

The pagoda in Battersea was built by monks, nuns and followers of Nipponzan Myohoji at the behest of The Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii (1885-1985), founder of the organisation.

The double-roofed structure, which is 33.5 m high and made of concrete and wood, is one of around 80 around the world and the second to be put up in a Western capital city. The first was in Vienna in 1983.

The UK's first Peace Pagoda was completed in Milton Keynes in 1980.

25th anniversary - Saturday, 19 June, 2-5 pm

An interfaith celebration with short speeches, prayers and a free cultural programme including dance and music with leading Scottish musician, David Ferrard.

Free light refreshments. All welcome.
Closest underground: Victoria or Sloane Square. BR: Battersea. Buses: 44, 137, 156, 344, 452 to Battersea Park.

Statues of Buddha

One of four gilded statues of Buddha
One of four gilded statues of Buddha

The Pagoda has four large gilded bronze sculptures of Buddha on each of its four sides showing some of the Buddha's mudras (hand gestures).

The gestures have specific meanings that refer to some event in the life of the Buddha and denote a special characteristic.

Buddhism is the label given to the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha who was born as Siddhartha Gautama and who lived in or around the fifth century BCE in the north eastern region of ancient India

The London Peace Pagoda is maintained by Wandsworth Borough Council and Reverend Gyoro Nagase offers prayers and serves the Pagoda on a daily basis.

My wish has been accepted without question by the people of London and the world. Nothing gives me greater happiness than this in my whole life.
The Most Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii, last recorded message 1/01/1985

The annual celebration in June brings together Buddhists from all different traditions as well as interfaith representatives who offer prayers for peace. There are also speeches and multicultural events. On 9 August, Nagasaki Day, a Floating Lantern ceremony takes place at dusk to commemorate all victims of war.

Battersea Peace Pagoda
Anniversary celebrations of the London Peace Pagoda, June 2008

Events

24th Anniversary Celebrations are due to take place at the Pagoda on Saturday, 20th June, beginning at 2pm with interfaith prayers and addresses for Peace, including a speech by Bruce Kent, CND.

This will be followed by a cultural programme of dance and music, including a live performance by peace activist singer/songwriter, David Ferrard, who will be travelling from Edinburgh specially for the occasion.

THE LONDON PAGODA
The second floor of the pagoda is an area forbidden to the public
The Most Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii met with Mahatma Gandhi in 1933 and greatly inspired each other
In 1947, he began constructing Peace Pagodas as shrines to World Peace
A Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa, stupa meaning 'heap' in Indian, which contains Buddha's relics, the shape being that of Buddha's folded robes as a base upon which his upturned begging bowl and stick have been placed
The London Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park is one of 2 in the UK, the other being at Milton Keynes
Permission to build it was the last legislative act of the Greater London Council

Free light refreshments will be offered at the end. Everyone is warmly invited to attend and offer flowers and incense at this colourful community event.

Location

The Pagoda is located within Battersea Park. It is situated along the River Thames approximately half way between Albert Bridge and Chelsea Bridge.

Official opening times for Battersea Park are from 8am until dusk. However some gates are normally open earlier and stay open later to allow access to facilities in the park (e.g. sports activities or exhibitions).




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