Dhamma School at London Buddhist Vihara
The London Buddhist Vihara started in 1926 but until 1969 no Dhamma classes were held for children. Under the guidance of Most Ven. Dr. Vajiragnana the Youth League was formed at the beginning of 1969. The main points of the Youth League were to give a fair knowledge of Buddhism to the Sri Lankan youth in London; to familiarise them with the Buddhist way of life; and to assist the Vihara in its endeavour to propagate the Dhamma in the West. This was the foundation of the children's class in the Vihara. As the Sri Lankan population was limited at the beginning, there were only a few students in these classes but they started growing in number. The Youth League was terminated in 1971, but the Dhamma classes continued to be conducted regularly. The Dhamma School has developed gradually.
For the last 48 years the Vihara's Dhamma classes for children have been conducted without a break. During this period many children have sat for the examinations conducted by YMBA, Colombo, Sri Lanka, and they have successfully completed their studies. Besides the practice and study of Dhamma, there are many expatriate Sri Lankan Buddhists who wish to keep their heritage at the forefront of their family living. With this in mind, Sinhala language classes are held for children after the Dhamma class. In past years there has been an opportunity for students to sit for G.C.E. D/level examinations in Sinhala here in Britain. Many children have passed the examination.
It was in 1985 that we started to organise Rahula Dhamma Day and this has been an important annual event in our calendar ever since. It is a day when we can all meet together in an atmosphere of joyful happiness, meeting our friends and celebrating the opportunity we have to hear the Buddha's wonderful Dhamma. This is the only event in the year which is dedicated specially to our children. They will be the future leaders in our society and we wish to give them the best possible opportunity to learn about the Buddha's teachings and how to apply them in their daily lives.
Our children have represented the Buddhist community in very important events held in London. Children who studied at the Vihara were invited to go to the annual Commonwealth Day celebrations. They have also participated in interfaith events on many, different occasions.
There are a number of teachers who have dedicated their time and effort to teach the Dhamma in the past and who are still doing so. We would like to thank them all. If we were going to list all these names it will be a difficult task to do. So we simply thank them all for their valuable contribution.
The academic year commences in September to coincide with the new school year and culminates in the June examination. LBV Dhamma classes are held every Sunday from September to June with the exception of festival days, school holidays, public and bank holidays. Classes commence at 2pm. At 3pm there is a short period of Dhamma observance in which parents and other adults present participate.
We have now approximately 150 children on the register and every year it is growing in number. All Buddhist parents are encouraged to use this golden opportunity to teach their children valuable Buddhist ethics and practice which are not available in their day-to-day school curriculum. Please enrol your children for the classes at the first opportunity. At the age of 4 1/2 years children can attend the classes.