Zu Lai Temple

An Asian Buddhist temple is one of the last things you would expect to see in South America. However, the beautiful Zu Lai Temple now sits in Cotia in Brazil. It is a very beautiful temple where construction started in the 1990s, and expanded upon later. It is associated with the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist organization. Master Hsing Yun, the founder of Fo Guang Shan, visited Sao Paulo in 1992 and from there, the plans to construct Zu Lai Temple followed afterwards.

Image: Paulito Lee, CC-BY-SA 4.0

Zu Lai Temple is located in Cotia, which is an area on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. In the early 2000s, with the help of its followers, Zu Lai Temple was expanded further and construction was done on new parts of the temple. Today, Zu Lai temple is a magnificent temple that hosts visitors from around the world. The main hall is surrounded by several smaller secondary buildings. Including the gardens and other areas, Zu Lai Temple covers over 150,000 squared meters. With over 150,000 square meters in land, Zu Lai Temple is perhaps the largest Buddhist temple not just in Brazil, but in all of South America.

Much of the design of the temple follows the same designs of other Buddhist architecture that is found in Taiwan and China. The temple contains many beautiful Asian style gardens and there are also many statues of monks and Buddhists throughout the temple. Like other Buddhist temples throughout Taiwan and China, vegetarian food is available to visitors of the temple and the Buddhist tradition in Taiwan and China is to generally avoid eating meat.

Image: Henrique Boney, CC-BY-SA 3.0

The followers of Zu Lai Temple include not only many that are of Chinese and Taiwan descent, but also many Brazilians too. Today, there are also Indonesian and Malaysian buddhists inside Zu Lai Temple. Zu Lai Temple has also done outreach programs, including outreach programs to the slum areas, to keep the children off the streets where many drug dealers are found. They also offer programs such as vegetarian cooking, mediation, and lessons on learning Mandarin. An internship program is also offered where students receive a lesson on monastic training, learn about the history of Buddhism, practice meditation, and follow the everyday routine of a Buddhist monk.

Zu Lai Temple is a gem in the heart of Brazil where Buddhism and Asian culture are exposed to Brazilians in Sao Paolo, and even visitors from the rest of Latin America. It is a great place to visit and something you may want to include in your agenda if you visit Sao Paulo.