22. How to Build a Flower Pagoda (Stupa)

How to Build a Flower Pagoda (Stupa)

by Pittaya Wong

 

The story about flower pagoda creations can be found in the Buddhist scriptures with its history dated back long long time ago in the past aeon.  According to the stories, devotees built a pagoda from sand pile and decorate it with flowers as an homage to the Lord Buddha.  The devotee earned much merit from building the pagoda as an object for contemplating and venerating the virtues of the Lord Buddha which is a fruitful mental cultivation. 

In another story, a devotee built a shelter made from branches and leaves and place Water Lillie or lotus flowers over the roof as decorations.  The act of veneration results in tremendous merit that enables the devotee to reborn only in the wholesome realms like human world and heaven.  As a human, such devotee reborn as the Imperial Monarch whereas the merit from offering flowers can result in beauty of such devotee whether he is was human or deity.  The merit yields fruitful results until such devotee attained enlightenment and entered the Nirvana which is the state of supreme bliss.

To build a flower pagoda, the devotee may enshrine a Buddha statue or Buddha relics on the top with an aim to celebrate a Buddhist holy day like Magha Puja, Vesak Puja, or Asalha Puja.  Other appropriate occasions are New Year’s Day and birthday.  The flower pagoda can be made of fresh flowers or man-made flowers decorated with lightings and many vibrant ornaments like the Christmas tree.

The first known reinvented flower pagoda of the modern era was designed and built by Pittaya Wong and fellows on 6 December 2011.  The pagoda was named ‘Panna-Prabha Maha Ratna Bup-Paa Cetiya’ (The Flower Pagoda of Wisdom Light) with the base width of 65 c.m. and approximately 150 c.m. in height.       

Structure

The structure of the aforesaid flower pagoda was made of 125 blocks of floral foam locked together by piercing bamboo sticks.  It is necessary that we calculate the size and volume of the pagoda prior to ordering the floral foams and flowers.  The external blocks of floral foams were soaked into clean water for hours whilst the inner blocks can be left dry.  The shape of pagoda can be made as square or circle by cutting the floral foams.  In addition, it is necessary to build a one square meter strong base made of wood panels or other durable materials over the metal pipes as the stands.  The metal pipes can turn the base to be a palanquin by inserting longer wooden clubs when carrying for relocation.

Flowers

Choose the flowers of your preference.  For beautiful colors, choose carnations or other flowers that can last long over the celebration.  Roses are also good for being colorful and scented.  Do not forget to calculate the flower size and the number of flowers that is needed to cover all of the pagoda’s floral foam surface and draw the sample design of patterns before you start the flower work. 

Lanterns

Lanterns are good for decorating the flower pagoda.  They can also give pleasing scents.  Please make sure that the lanterns will not cause risk of burning the flowers or the base as well as the surroundings.

Installing the Top Part

The top part of the flower pagoda may be shaken and collapse when the pagoda is relocated.  So, the top part may be installed later when the pagoda is finally moved to the ceremonial ground.

Tools Check List

-      Floral foams (140 blocks) and basins for soaking

-      A knife for cutting and shaping floral foams

-      Scissors for cutting flowers’ stems

-      Bamboo chopsticks (1 big pack) for locking the floral foams

-      Flowers per calculation of color and type

-      1 Square meter of Base as a palanquin

-      Garbage bags

-      Lighter + lanterns

-      Trolley

-      Buddha statue (if needed)

-      Flags + Bells or other decoration items

-      Covering fabric to keep the pagoda humid

-      Water foggy spray bottle

-      Picnic mats for flower works

-      Resolution words

-      Etc.

Note:  The flower pagodas shown on this webpage were built by Pittaya Wong and fellows at Dhammakaya Temple in Thailand when Pittaya Wong was still a disciple of Dhammakaya Temple.  However, Pittaya Wong has quit his discipleship since 2013 until present in order to start his own projects about Buddhism and Dhammakaya Meditation.