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Giant Buddha Statue Unveiled in Iowa


A new statue of the Buddha seated in the Bhumisparsha Mudra—at 5.5 meters tall, one of the largest Buddha statues in the United States—was unveiled on 8 August at the Theravada Dhamma Society’s (TDS) temple in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Thirty monks and thousands of Buddhist followers from across the US gathered at the temple to witness the inauguration of the giant statue. The ceremony began with a religious  session from 10:00 am to noon, followed by vocal and dance performances by TDS performers representing the Burmese, Chin, Karen, and Rakhine ethnic groups.

According to TDS liaison Tay Tun, the Buddha statue is a symbol of communal unity, regardless of individual religious beliefs: “It was very emotional for me because we worked so hard. Finally we made it happen and it’s just so peaceful and happy to just look at it.” (Times-Republic)

The construction of the statue included an accompanying waterfall and bridge, which have taken more than two years to complete. Tun approached Marshalltown’s largest employer, JBS Marshalltown, for extra resources and manpower to help complete the project. The company provided equipment, technology, funding, and time off work for employees to see the project to completion.

According to JBS Marshalltown general manager Todd Carl, more than 20 per cent of the company’s staff—over 500 employees—are part of the TDS community. “We’re just very glad that JBS is somebody that we can rely on for the community,” Tun observed. (Times-Republic)

Carl attended the inauguration ceremony and expressed happiness at being part of the TDS community. “We’ve always had a bond with this community, but we’re improving that bond day after day after day, and investing in partnerships and people,” said Carl. “We’re going to be here to support them in every way that we can, such as the festival that you see happening today.” (Times-Republic)

Carl added that while JBS Marshalltown was well aware of the local Buddhist community, which has been present in Marshalltown for at least a decade, many ordinary residents remained oblivious to their presence. “Exposing them to what exists, I think, is very important,” said Carl. “Once they get here, knowing what this community represents, it is pretty inspiring for a lot of people.” (Times-Republic)

Mayor Joel Greer, who spoke at the ceremony, said it was a fantastic event and that he was looking forward to seeing how the community grows. “More people need to know about this and come out and see it,” said Greer. “It shows the pride in the community.” (Times-Republic)

According to Tun, this Buddha statue should be cherished not only by Buddhists but also by the wider Marshalltown community since it inspires faith in followers and remind everyone of the value of Buddha’s teachings. 

See more

Thousands celebrate completion of large Marshalltown Buddha statue (Times-Republic)
Marshalltown, IOWA Buddhist Temple (2021) Big Buddha and Waterfall (YouTube) 

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