Springhill Buddha Grove Celebration

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For many years now, September has meant for me one very important and unusual occasion, the Spring Hill Prison Buddha Grove Celebration. The Buddha Grove in HMP Spring Hill was built by prisoners for prisoners in 1992 and formally opened on a bitter October evening. After the ceremony the prisoners dispensed some soup that they had thoughtfully made to warm their guests. I, of course, didn’t have any but I suspect, though hot it might have been, delicious it probably wasn’t because some of the Thais present immediately asked if they could do the catering next year! And so they did and so they have ever since, with every few years a different group taking it on and only one year missed, right up to and including this September. Once again on Sunday the 16th we had a marvellous evening for our annual celebration of the Buddha Grove at HMP Springhill. Monks from five temples attended and contributed to the chanting. And as usual many Thai people gathered to offer the food, to give of their time and their culinary and flower arranging skills and to cook a Thai vegetarian meal for the entire prison and guests. We began the evening at the Buddha Grove with chanting and speeches.  Then after everyone had been to the dining hall and the food was over we returned to end the evening, as we always do, by processing three times around the Buddha Grove with candles, incense and flowers.

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