First European pagoda built in Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, RENOWNED for its capacity to embrace all races and religions, has become the first city in Europe to build a Bhuddist pagoda.

After eight years of planning and construction, using materials shipped from China and Burma, the Dhamma Talaka Peace Pagoda will be opened by the Labour MP Clare Short on Saturday.

It is the dream of a local businessman, Wing Yip, who moved to Birmingham 39 years ago. Mr Wing wanted to say thank you to the city, so he proposed building the pounds 370,000 structure. The one-acre site at Holloway Circus was provided cheaply by the city council, which has turned the area into a Feng Shui garden.

The building is designed as a sanctuary allowing worshippers of all religions to meditate and chant in peace and tranquility. Modelled on the Shwedagone Pagoda in Rangoon, the building stands seven-storeys high and features a 60ft gold-leaf covered crown topped with a diamond as a symbol of devotion to Buddha.

Craftsmen in China prepared many of the stone sections for shipping to England, while teak from Burma was sent over for the floor and doors of the building. The whole structure is much larger than the only two other pagodas outside Burma, in San Francisco and Japan.

Until now, followers have worshipped in a converted house in nearby Edgbaston.

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