Fo Guang Shan means "Buddha's Light Mountain" and refers to a Chinese Mahayana Buddhist monastic order founded in Taiwan in 1967 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. The order promotes humanistic buddhism and aims to make this philosophy and way of life relevant in the world. The popularity of this order has spread around the world and the magnificent Nan Hau Temple in Bronkhorstspruit – about an hour’s drive from Johannesburg along the N4 highway towards Witbank –is testament to this fact. The temple, with its seminary, is the largest in Africa and this little piece of China has become one of the popular tourist attractions in South Africa. Nan Hau Temple is also an excellent, economical venue for getaways in Gauteng offering spiritual retreats, workshops and conferences.
The Nan Hua Buddhist Temple, which is actually a village, takes up almost an entire suburb. Peace prevails and you could be mistaken for thinking you were in China except the countryside is definitely Highveld. The seminary attracts novices from all over Africa and the varied interns commit to a three-year period of study at the temple. The annual head-shaving ceremony is a symbolic demonstration of the devotees’ willingness to start a new life, promoting love, kindness, tolerance and peace.
The elaborately decorated temple is entered via a set of impressive large gates and the buildings within the temple complex are equally awe-inspiring in their scale and decoration. The exotic architecture and large statues of the Buddha are reminiscent of those seen in temples in eastern Asia and are quite an unexpected sight in the farmlands of Bronkhorstspruit. On special days like the Buddha’s birthday or Chinese New Year the grounds are festively decorated and festive programmes are hosted for the public.
Land was donated to the Fo Guang Shan order by the Bronkhorstspruit City Council and building of the temple began in October 1992. Funds for this massive undertaking were provided by the order and the large Taiwanese community in South Africa. The Chinese Buddhist Centre developed as an educational and cultural complex with an ethos to engage with and assist communities. Work includes prison outreach and charity work.
Visitors are asked to show respect for this religious site by dressing appropriately –no tank tops, slippers, spaghetti tops, mini skirts or hot pants.
Tuesday to Sunday and on public holidays: 9am to 5pm