​Wat Lao Kittisilaram - Bridgeport, CT.

By: Laopost.net 04/26/13

    

Growing up, memories of summer weekends fishing near our community Wat Lao had special meaning to me.

     To be honest, I was never a good fisherman. My share of catches barley added any value to the bucket full of fish my dad had already caught. Still, I can clearly  remember the memories, like the day my daughter was born, the warm sunlight , the light breeze from the sea and the sound of endless ocean waves breaking gently onto the sand as I pull in my catch. My dad and I spent countless weekends  passing time fishing the days away, but we also spent many weekends at Wat Kittisilaram as volunteers helping our community, at least my dad did as one of the original committee members.

     A block away from my families, once favorite, fishing spot, and tucked behind dry docked boats, near piles of anchored Long Island Sound lobster traps sits, what maybe, the first Wat Lao established in  New England.

    

     As far back as I can remember, Wat Lao Kittisilaram has always been there. The temple was established in 1981, as a center for Lao Buddhist teachings and prayer for many Lao immigrants in the immediate community. But the temple quickly became more than that. As more and more Lao people started to migrate to America,  it became the only temple for many families living in  New England. Before 1989 the temple was known as Wat Lao Thapchanthalaram. The temple’s property  consist of just a normal two story house and a three car garage converted into the main prayer area, but what is unique about the temple is its beautiful location. Its  just a skip and a hope away from the salty water’s edge.  Stepping out from the front door of the temple, you can  see reflections from the ocean waves bouncing of your eyes after morning prayer. You literally can taste the salt water in your mouth. How many Wat Lao temples can  you say that about.

     Throughout Wat Kittisilaram years, there were many challenges the temple had to overcome. In 1998, the very first head monk (Satu), a leader that was respected and dearly loved by everyone in the community died.  In 2001, the temple’s main prayer build was almost burned to the ground by an electric fire, but with the  help of a resilient community and a strong belief in Buddha and faith, the temple endured.

     This year  I was there for the New Years Takbat. Being at the temple gave me a chance to talk to old friends that I haven’t seen for years. That is one of the things that make it so great about going to the community temple.  The temple is now governed by its 12th committee, headed by Mr. Phonesavanh Phantharangsy. I can see that these devoted younger  volunteers continue to preserve the temples existence for many generations to come.

     Wat Lao Kittisilaram has always been a part of my life. It holds a special place in my heart. I was a temporary monk (Baut) there many times.  It was there where my family brought me to learn the teachings of the Buddha. It will be there where I bring my daughter to learn the teachings of the Buddha way as well.

 

     Wat Lao Kittisilaram is located in Bridgeport, Connecticut. For more information about Wat LaoKittisilaram, please contact Mr. Phonesavanh Phantharangsy at (203) 257-2734 or e-mail Laopost.net  at laopost@gmail.com