First-ever Wesak celebration in British Parliament
The UK has paid tribute to the Buddhist communities living in the United Kingdom by marking Wesak, one of the most auspicious days in the Buddhist calendar. For the first time in history, Buddha day was marked on 23rd April 2018 in Parliament. The event was held in packed committee room 8 and was full of Buddhists of all walks of life sharing a multitude of traditions and well wishers.
Mrs Ajantha Tennakoon, the Deputy Chair of the Conservative Women’s Organisation (London North West), organised the event in Association with the Armed Forces Buddhist Society and Buddhist Chaplaincy support Group. Ajantha, in her warm introduction speech, expressed gratitude to Honourable Bob Blackman MP for Harrow East who hosted this historic event and he was warmly welcomed by Sumana Thero (Kingsbury Temple) by offering a blessing scarf. The event was graced with the presence of the Mayor of Barnet Cllr. Brian Sallinger and Mayoress Mrs. Kate Sallinger.
Other notable speakers at the event included Dr Sunil Kariyakarawana who is the Senior Buddhist Chaplain to the British Armed Forces, Gonul Daniels (Chair of London North West Conservative Womens Organisation), Sqr Ldr Kev Place (Chair of British Armed forces Buddhist Society) and Dr. Zimar Sivardeen ( Chairman of the British Sri Lankan Association). The speech by Dr Sivardeen was particularly interesting as he comes from the fold of Islam. The other attendees were the buddhists monks from all Buddhist traditions, Most Ven. Dr. K. Dhammassami, , Ven. Sumanarama Thero (Edmonton Samadhi Meditation Centre)Ven. Lamo Zangmo, Ven. Rishi Daizen Skinner.
There was also 3 children from the Buddhist communities, Ayumini Wickramaratne, Ishaya Edirisinghe (both students from Mill Hill County High School) and Sudam Kariyakarawana (student from Uphall Primary school) who actively participated in the event by singing, reading and chanting the “Naraseeha Gatha” respectively which was happily received by all the attendees present at the event.
Also present were members from the Barnet Women’s Interfaith Network, Julia Dias QC, Cllr. Paul Osborn (Harrow Council) , Mr. Sam Cooray (Representative of Sri Lankan High commission to UK) and Mr. Fritz Kodagoda (Barriester 12 Old Square) whose presence was very much appreciated.
This successful and historical event concluded by chanting Buddhist blessings by the Buddhist priests.