Rangoon abbot evicted from Dala monastery over ownership dispute

Rangoon abbot evicted from Dala monastery over ownership dispute

The Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, the country’s highest Buddhist order, evicted an abbot from a monastery in Rangoon’s Dala Township that is currently in the middle of an ownership dispute with the government-backed committee.

Abbot Kuthala said he was summoned on Sunday by the Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, commonly referred to as the mahana, and ordered to leave Kan-U Monastery. The Sangha Maha Nayaka claimed that the monastery belongs to a committee member, Pawara, and they threatened Kuthala with legal action if he failed to comply.

“The mahana cited a complaint by U Parawa and ordered me to depart from the monastery or else I will face legal action,” Kuthala said.

However, hundreds of Dala Township residents are now protesting the monkhood’s orders, in support of Kuthala. According to the residents, Kan-U monastery was in a dire state of disrepair after it was donated to Pawara about seven years ago.

“The old monastery building was in a very bad shape to the point that we feared it would come crumbling down on our heads while we were inside,” said Kyin Sein, a local supporter of Kuthala. “Abbot Kuthala supervised the renovation with donations from local residents.”

With donations from the residents, they were able to renovate Kan-U Monastery, and they re-inaugurated it in dedication to Kuthala, she said. “We could only chip in 100 kyat (US$0.10) a day each until we saved enough to buy materials for the renovation.”

Unlike Kuthala, who was always present, Pawara only has shown up once since he received the donation of the monastery, Kyein Sein said, claiming that it was only after the previously rickety structure was transformed into a two-storey building that he began contesting the ownership of the monastery.

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Several residents have erected a signboard outside the monastery rejecting Pawara’s ownership claim. They maintain that the site belongs to Kuthala as they had rebuilt it with their own money and donated it to him.

DVB was unable to reach Pawara for comment.

Last month, the mahana sponsored a raid against another Rangoon monastery, the Mahasantisukha monastery, which is also undergoing an ownership dispute between the committee and Penang Sayadaw, a prominent Buddhist leader. The raid drew outrage across the country.

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