Photographs by Tissa Madawela
Vesak Day at The London Buddhist Vihara
London Buddhist Vihara celebrated this year's Vesak Day on the 27th Sunday, closest day to the full moon day of the month of May, with a full day's religious programmes. A separate programme for Rahula Dhamma School children was held on the 26th Saturday. "Buddha Day" or Vesak is one of the most important festivals in the Buddhist calendar as it commemorates three significant events in Gautama Buddha’s life, Birthday, Enlightenment and the Parinibbaana or Passing away. Vesak programme commenced with the hoisting of the Buddhist flag by Acting High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom, H.E. Sugeeshwara Gunaratna, followed by the lighting of the traditional lamp. Head of the London Buddhist Vihara and the Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain Most Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera administered Eight Precepts, Ata Sil. More than 150 devotees from various communities observed Ata Sil. In his Anusasana Ven. Seelawimala Nayaka Thera explained the significance of celebrating the Vesak day. He said " Buddha himself guided his followers on how to pay homage to Vesak. Before he attained Parinibbana, he saw his faithful attendant Ananda weeping. He advised him not to cry, but to understand the universal law that all compounded things including his body must disintegrate. He advised his followers to regard his teachings, The Dhamma, as their teacher from then on and to celebrate Vesak by leading noble lives, showing kindness and bringing peace and harmony to humanity." Ven. Thawalama Bandula Thera conducted the paying homage to the Buddha, Buddha Vandana followed by a short instruction and practice session on meditation by Ven. Kalugamuwe Kassapa Thera. Ven. H.Pannavamsa Thera delivered the morning sermon entitled " Conditional Relations". Ven. Kassapa Thera conducted Buddha Puja. Vesak day's mid day Dhana for the Maha Sangha, devotees who observed Ata Sil and lunch for the others was arranged by Priyantha Perera and family, Ravi Sandhanayaka, Bandula De Silva, Kapila,Jayanthi, Shanthi, Hiranthi and their friends and families. Dr Aruna Gamage, a Senior Lecturer at the Kelaniya University, presently at SOAS, University of London, gave a special talk on " Ultimate Truth hidden in indirect teaching in Tripitaka". Prof. Chandra Wickramasinghe delivered Vesak Day’s keynote speech. Professor Wickramasinghe is a world-renowned scholar on Astronomy, Director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrology, University of Buckingham and former Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wales, Cardiff. His talk was based on "Buddhism and the Cosmos, Extending the bounds of human sympathy." Mr. Amal Abeyawardene on behalf of the LBV introduced the keynote speaker. Ven. Seelawimala Nayaka Thera said in his Punyanumodana that Prof. Chandra Wickranasinghe is "not a stranger to the Vihara” and he is ever so grateful for his continues priceless support to the Vihara. A sermon by Ven, Seelawimala Nayaka Thera entitled " Searching for Buddha" and a Sermon in Sinhala by Ven. Thawalama Bandula Thera followed. Days programme ended with a Bhakthi Geetha programme by the Dhamma School teachers and parents. A large number of devotees from various communities attended the programme. Ven. Seelawimala Nayaka Thera thanked every one who helped in various ways to make this year's Vesak programme a great success.