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President Wickremesinghe Highlights Theravada Buddhism’s Role Amidst Technological Advancements

May 24, Colombo (LNW): President Ranil Wickremesinghe underscored the significance of Theravada Buddhism in addressing the challenges posed by a world rapidly advancing in science and technology during the State Vesak Festival held at Dharmaraja Piriven Viharaya in Matale, virtually.

Although President Wickremesinghe was scheduled to participate in person, adverse weather conditions prevented his attendance, leading him to join the event virtually. He emphasized the importance of preserving the true essence of Theravada Buddhism and sharing its wisdom with the world, extending his wishes for a meaningful Vesak celebration to all Buddhists.

This year’s State Vesak Festival, centered in the Matale District, is themed “Attano wa avekkhyeya kathani akatani cha” (Let’s Focus on What We Have Done, Not What Others Have Done). Vesak Week is being observed from May 21 to 27, marking a particularly special celebration with the participation of Buddhist monks from 12 countries, highlighting the global significance of this sacred event.

During the ceremony, various significant actions were undertaken, including the presentation of Pooja Bhumi Scroll Memorandums, the issuance of a Vesak commemorative stamp, and the provision of grants for temple development, Dhamma schools, and sanitary facilities for challenging temples. Additionally, grants were provided from the Buddhasasana Fund, and symbolic distributions of book sets and ‘Budu Puth Maapiya’ grant cheques were made.

In total, Rs. 22 million has been allocated for the development of 22 rural Buddhist temples in the Matale district, with an additional Rs. 2.6 million earmarked for the development of five temples hosting programmes in conjunction with the State Vesak Festival. Furthermore, Rs. 0.4 million has been set aside for the reconstruction of three temples affected by disasters, and Rs. 5 million has been dedicated to the development of 12 Dhamma schools. Under the Buddhasasana Fund, Rs. 32 million has been allotted to provide sanitary facilities for 32 challenging temples. Development efforts for over 25 temples in the district have also commenced, with labour contributions from the Armed Forces and the Civil Defence Force.

The festival was orchestrated by the Samastha Lanka Shasanarakshaka Mandalaya, the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, the Department of Buddhist Affairs, and the Matale District Secretariat.

In his virtual address, President Wickremesinghe remarked:

“I regret being unable to attend the National Vesak Festival in person due to adverse weather conditions. The Matale district holds significance in Theravada Buddhism, notably as the site where the Sacred Tripitaka was transcribed at Alu Viharaya. This location has played a vital role in preserving Buddha’s teachings. Therefore, we should give more consideration to Theravada Buddhism.

“While the world is increasingly focused on science and new technologies, these advancements also bring emerging challenges. For adherents of Theravada Buddhism who comprehend its authentic essence, these challenges may not be insurmountable. Theravada Buddhism provides a framework through which such issues can be addressed and resolved. It is imperative that we safeguard and perpetuate the genuine spirit of Theravada Buddhism. Wishing everyone a joyous and meaningful Vesak celebration.”

The event was attended by Maha Sangha, including the Chairman of the Samastha Lanka Shasanarakshaka Mandalaya Ven. Thunmulle Seelakkanda Thera and the Registrar Ven. Mugunawela Anuruddha Thera, Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayaka, State Ministers Premita Bandara Tennakoon and Rohana Dissanayake, Governor of the Central Province Advocate Lalith U. Gamage, Members of Parliament Nalaka Kottegoda and Udayana Kirindigoda, Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Vikum Liyanage, and other dignitaries.

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