Updated 3 June 2023
BEP Buddhist Embroidery Project
Venerable Apparakke Jinaratana of Sri Lanka
The late Venerable Apparakke Jinaratana, a Theravada Buddhist Bhikkhu [monk], who lived in a cave in Sri Lanka, near a very poor village, used very old newspapers (supplied by villagers) as tablecloths. The BEP decided to embroider tablecloths, wall hangings and sitting cloths for his use. Although items are given to one monk, they actually belong to the whole of the Bhikkhu Sangha [Order of Buddhist Monks] according to the Vinaya [Buddhist Monastic Discipline]. In Asian villages, washing is done in streams and waterfalls, and hung to dry in the hot sun, so items do not last as long as they do in the west.
The BEP Buddhist Embroidery Project was started by attendees of the London Buddhist Vihara [Monastery] in 1994. The BEP decided to teach embroidery to people who had not learnt it in childhood.
Anne Wynn-Wilson the late founder of the Quaker Tapestry made the wonderful suggestion that a Buddhist Embroidery project would be beneficial. Anne Wynn-Wilson commented, “Sharing the making of such a gift enriches both the giver and receiver” in 1994. Materials were donated by Buddhists and Quakers after requests for donations were made in The Friend: The Quaker Weekly, The Devon Vihara Newsletter, and The Middle Way: Journal of The Buddhist Society [London]. A photograph of the monk receiving the embroideries appeared in The Friend: The Quaker Weekly on 28 June 1996, and the August 1996 issue of The Middle Way: Journal of The Buddhist Society [London].
Ketumati Buddhist Vihara Manchester and BGKT Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada)
Jacquetta Gomes (one of the founders of and Secretary of BGKT Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada)) developed the Kendal BEP Buddhist Embroidery Project. Vesak celebrations were held at Ketumati Buddhist Vihara Manchester England on 14 May 2006. BGKT members including Jacquetta Gomes, presented a tapestry of the Buddha (designed and sewn by Fiona Walker in the BGKT BEP group) to Venerable Pidiville Piyatissa Head of the Vihara. This now hangs in the main hall of Ketumati Buddhist Vihara. The plaque reads “Designed and stitched by Fiona Walker Presented to Ketumati Buddhist Vihara by The Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada) Vesak May 2006”.
Kendal England Unitarian Chapel Transition Town Service
As a member of the Kendal England’s Unitarian Chapel’s Craft Circle Bodhicarini Upasika Jayasili Jacquetta Gomes (Secretary of BGKT Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada)), embroidered a picture of flowers for the Unitarian Chapel’s Transition Town service on 8 May 2011. This embroidery hung in the Kendal Unitarian Chapel’s Vestry and corridor.
The World’s Longest Embroidery
BGKT Secretary Jacquetta Gomes Bodhicarini Upasika Jayasili attended the Apple Day organized by the Quaker Tapestry at the Friends Meeting House Kendal on 22 October 2011. The Kendal Branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild brought “The World’s Longest Embroidery”. She sewed a gold coloured Buddhist Dhammacakka Wheel on this embroidery. This wheel with eight spokes (which represent the eightfold path) is often used as a symbol of Buddhism. In Theravada Buddhism the first discourse of the Buddha is the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion.
“An embroidery project”, The Friend: The Quaker Weekly, (5 August 1994).
“An Unusual Request”, The Devon Vihara Newsletter, 42 (February 1995).
“BEP Buddhist Embroidery Project”, Sakyadhita [International Association of Buddhist Women] UK Newsletter, March News from SUK (17 March 2022).
“BEP Buddhist Embroidery project”, Jacquetta Gomes, The Fellowship Kendal Unitarian Chapel, (September 2011).
“BEP Buddhist Embroidery project and Venerable Apparakke Jinaratana of Sri Lanka”, News Lanka, Issue 1305, (8 December 2016).
“Buddhist Embroidery Project”, The Friend: The Quaker Weekly, (28 October 1994) page 1386.
“Embroidery project”, The Middle Way: Journal of The Buddhist Society [London], 69(2) (August 1994) page 126.
“Embroidery project”, The Middle Way: Journal of The Buddhist Society [London], 69(4) (February 1995) page 278.
“Embroidery project”, The Middle Way: Journal of The Buddhist Society [London], 71(2) (August 1996) page 138.
“Message of thanks”, The Friend: The Quaker Weekly, (28 June 1996) page 18.
TBE Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
“BEP Buddhist Embroidery Project”
“BEP Buddhist Embroidery Project”, Manchester Buddhist Convention Website, 2012 June 18
“BEP Buddhist Embroidery Project (Venerable Apparakke Jinaratana of Sri Lanka)”, Quang Duc Buddhist Monastery Australia, 2021 7 August, by Jacquetta Gomes Bodhicarini Upasika Jayasili
“Did you know The Embroiderers’ Guild holds the record for the “World’s Longest Embroidery?” The Embroiders’ Guild UK Facebook Page 15 September 2015
Embroiderers’ Guild: Creating Opportunities”
“Members’ Projects: 2003 – Ongoing World’s Longest Embroidery”, The Embroiderers Guild Website
“World’s longest embroidery”, TRC Textile Research Centre Leiden [Netherlands] Website