HELENSBURGH'S Buddhist temple is approaching its second birthday – and the monks in residence are inviting people in the town to join them in a special ceremony this weekend.

The Wat Phra Dhammakhaya meditation centre, located in the former Park Church in Charlotte Street, will hold a Kathima ceremony on Saturday, October 14.

The Kathina festival, an important feature of the Theravada Buddhist calendar, gives people a chance to show their gratitude to the monks in the form of donations and religious gifts for the upkeep of the temple.

The four Helensburgh monks who live at the Helensburgh centre – one of four Dhammakhaya temples across the UK – will welcome guests from across the UK, including the other temples, in London, Manchester and Newcastle, to next Saturday's ceremony.

The day's events will include a parade, led by a piper, around the block occupied by the temple building – though the monks, volunteers and visitors will keep to the pavements, meaning that passing vehicle traffic will be unaffected.

After a meditation at 9.30am, the day will feature a food offering and opening ceremony at 10am before the main Kathina ceremony at 1.30pm.

One of the Helensburgh monks, L.P. Samak, told the Advertiser: “The celebration of Kathina is open to all. Everyone is warmly invited to come.

“Everyone is concerned about their health and is looking to relax themselves and become healthier in body and mind.

“We believe meditation purifies the body and the mind and gives people inner peace and happiness. Just once a week is enough to learn more about meditation practice.

“What they learn they can do themselves at home and can tell people to come and learn more.

“We need more supporters to make it finished completely, but the donation is up to the vistiors who join us in our offering. It depends on themselves.

“We need to improve the temple and make it more welcoming for local people when they come.”

The buidling itself is still in the midst of major renovation work: while the living areas and a smaller meditation room on the upper floors are complete, the main hall – the nave, when the building was a Church

The temple, which is the only Dhammakaya temple in Scotland, is also preparing to host regular tai chi classes, and in the longer term the Helensburgh monks hope to offer more meditation classes, including a day-long workshop and perhaps a three-day retreat next summer, along with education in key concepts in the Buddhist way of life.

To find out more about the centre, which was established towards the end of 2015 and was formally declared open in January of the following year, go to www.dhammakayascotland.com, email scotlandmeditation@gmail.com, or call (01436) 676024.