Wat Lao Buddharam, known as Wat Lok Khang, is a Buddhist temple located at 5214 Old Nashville Hwy, Murfreesboro, TN 37129. This community consists of both Laotian Americans and Hmong refugees who have settled in the area. The temple is home to over 200 families who practice Buddhist traditions and are served by about 20 monks. Unfortunately, many local residents do not know about this unique place or even realize that it exists. Let’s explore this beautiful temple!
What is Wat Lao Buddharam?
Wat Lao Buddharam is an old-fashioned temple with a very modern feel. It was founded in 1995 by a group of Laotian Buddhist refugees who were looking for a community and a place to practice their religion. They were originally based in St. Louis, but their search for a place to practice their religion led them to Middle Tennessee. In 1993, one of the members of the community, who had been living in Nashville, met a Hmong refugee in Murfreesboro and was able to convince him to move to the area. Another member of the community also arrived in Murfreesboro in 1995, bringing with him the name of the temple, Wat Lao Buddharam. The community of Wat Lao Buddharam is home to about 200 families, with about 20 monks who serve the temple. They practice Theravada Buddhism, the most popular form of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. Theravada Buddhism is often called the “high road” or the “middle way” because it focuses on the Middle Way between extreme asceticism and extreme hedonism, which is seen as the cause of many of the world’s problems. This type of Buddhism has very few idols, no images or statues of gods, and encourages a simple and easy-going way of life. Wat Lao Buddharam hosts three major Buddhist events each year - the Thai New Year, Vesak Day, and the Sankranthi Festival. These events include a variety of cultural and religious activities including dances, food, and religious rites. Another fantastic read
Highlights of a Day at Wat Lao Buddharam
Visit the Temple - The first part of your day will be spent visiting the temple that is dedicated to the Laotian Buddha, Buddhaaram. This is the largest and oldest Laotian temple in the United States. - Trek the Buddhist Trail - After visiting the temple, you can choose to trek the Buddhist Trail, a self-guided walking tour of the areas most prominent Buddhist sites. The trail starts at Wat Lao Buddharam and leads you through the town of Murfreesboro, past the Buddhist Society and Dhamma Library, to Wat Dhammakaya. - Visit the Buddhist Society and Dhamma Library - The Buddhist Society, or the Buford Buddhist Society, is a center for Buddhist teachings and activities, including meditation, yoga, and cultural events. The Dhamma Library offers books, audio, and video recordings of Buddhist teachings, articles about Buddhism, and books about other religions. - Try Thai Food or Lao Food - After visiting the Society and the Library, you can treat yourself to some Thai or Lao food. There are many restaurants in Murfreesboro that offer flavorful dishes. The Thai Herbal Restaurant, is great for a casual meal while The Thai Phenix, is more upscale and offers a great variety of authentic Thai cuisine.
How to Get to Wat Lao Buddharam
Wat Lao Buddharam is located in Middle Tennessee, about an hour’s drive southeast of Nashville. The easiest way to get there is to fly into Nashville then drive to Murfreesboro. From there, you can either rent a car or take public transportation. There are also some buses that travel to Murfreesboro that stop in Nashville, such as the Tigerline Blue. The best way to get settled in and orient yourself with the area is to rent a car. This can greatly expand your exploring options and help you get oriented with the area. Learn more here
Don’t Miss: Tips for Visiting Wat Lao Buddharam
Visit the Buddhist Society and Dhamma Library - These two sites are the most prominent in Wat Lao Buddharam and offer a great introduction to the area. You can learn more about the local culture and the Buddhist community while visiting these sites. - Trek the Buddhist Trail - While at the Buddhist Society and Dhamma Library, you can also explore the Buddhist Trail, a self-guided walking tour of the areas most prominent Buddhist sites. This is a good way to explore the area and learn about the local Buddhist communities. - Try Thai Food or Lao Food - After visiting the Society and the Library, you can treat yourself to some Thai or Lao food. There are many restaurants in Murfreesboro that offer flavorful dishes. The Thai Herbal Restaurant, is great for a casual meal while The Thai Phenix, offers authentic Thai cuisine. - Try Hmong Food - Some families also celebrate the Sankranthi Festival, a festival that is celebrated by the Hmong community. The festival celebrates the coming of spring and is based on the Hindu tradition of celebrating the return of the seasons. - Visit the Civil War Museum - The Civil War Museum in downtown Murfreesboro offers a very interesting and informative look at the events that led up to the Civil War and the battles that took place in Middle Tennessee. - See a Movie or Concert - Murfreesboro is a great town for outdoor activities as well as cultural events. You can take in a movie at the Broadway Plaza Theatre, a concert at the Verizon Theatre, or an outdoor sporting event at Freedom Hall. - Visit the State Historic Site - Local history museums are a great way to learn about the area’s past, and the State Historic Site offers a great introduction to the local area’s history.
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