ALBA started around 1994 at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in Hertfordshire, England, and was initially called the Upasika Training. Since then our name has changed, first to Amaravati Upasika Association and then to Amaravati Lay Buddhist Association. Upasika (and its female variant upasaka) are Buddhist scriptural terms referring to sincere lay followers of the Buddha. Wanting to have a more understandable and less intimidating title, we chose – ALBA – Amaravati Lay Buddhist Association. ALBA also evokes ‘albion’ – which has a nice traditional ring of old England about it – and also means ‘white’ – which is how lay Buddhists are traditionally dressed, and also ‘dawn’ in Italian and Spanish.
ALBA is run by laypeople with the blessing of the ordained Sangha, and runs a series of days of practice and short retreats at Amaravati.