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Sunday, 15 May 2011

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Buddhist Cultural Centre :

Grand opening today



Buddhist Cultural Centre
Pix: Vipula Amarasinghe

The Opening of the impressive Buddhist Cultural Centre at Sambuddhathva Jayanthi Mawatha, Colombo by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the precursor to celebrating the Sri Sambuddhathva Jayanthi 2600 on a grand scale.

The Buddhist Cultural Centre which is the brainchild of Ven.Kirama Wimalajothi Thera, with its valuable treasure of books will help to acquire a good knowledge of Buddhism and live accordingly. This people impressive building complex upholds its motto, "Towards a righteous society cultivating independent minds nurtured by our great heritage".

The President will open the Buddhist Cultural Centre today at 8.30 am. Following a request by Ven.Wimalajothi Thera, the President has also agreed to re-name Havelock Road as Sambuddhathva Jayanthi Mawatha to coincide with the Sri Sambuddhathva Jayanthi 2600. A large number of foreign Buddhist dignitaries and members of Mahasangha will attend the ceremony.

A procession will start from opposite Wellawatta Mayurapathi Kovil today at 3.00pm and proceed to Thummulla junction. Around 2600 students representing over 20 schools in the Western Province would participate in this religious pageant.

A large number of school bands and the Armed Forces and Police bands will take part in the procession which will be led by the students of Colombo university, Ven. Vimalajothi Thera said. The programme will conclude with an all-night pirith pinkama.

Buddhist publication

This Buddhist Cultural Centre is unique in that it is the largest institution so far established in Sri Lanka with the world's largest collection of Buddhist publication for sale. It also functions as an Information Centre with an auditorium with seating capacity for 400 people, in addition to a sophisticated soundproof audio visual unit. The centre has a conference hall to conduct Buddhist activities.


Ven.Kirama Wimalajothi Thera

The first floor of the Centre consists of Buddhist books such as Tripitaka, canonical texts, meditation, psychology, philosophy and commentaries which are published in Sinhala.

The second floor has been reserved for books on Buddhism in English, German, French, Tamil and other languages. A large number of children's books in both Sinhala and English, on Buddhism is also available for sale. The centre has around 10,000 titles of books.

The main building consists of 8 major floors while a part of it has 16 floors. At the top of the 16th floor, a pagoda like Buddhagaya has been erected to signify the four noble truths (chathurarya sathya). Each floor of the building has been reserved for some specific purpose. Arrangements have been made to conduct Pali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Sinhala and English languages and some more western and oriental languages as well. The centre will hold Buddhist counselling sessions for groups from children to elderly people. The centre will be open to the public from 8.30am to 9.00pm.

Youth activities

The centre will conduct youth activities specially for university students and college students and coordinate the setting up of Buddhist societies in every faculty in universities and also in schools in Colombo which will be the pride of the country, the Thera said.

The centre will also provide space for foreign Maha Nayake Theras and other Buddhist monks to conduct research on Dhamma, discussions and seminars is another facility provided by the Centre. The full-fledged auditorium in the ideal location to perform international cultural activities. The aim of the centre is to educate the youth on Dhamma and Jathaka stories.

According to Ven.Wimalajothi Thera President Rajapaksa has provided the land for the Buddhist centre on a 30 year loan basis. Donations had been received from the public, school children and various other sources to construct this building complex. The estimated cost of the project is around Rs. 350 million. However, the Ven. Thera had sold some of his lands and his other assets and earned around Rs.80 million. He had also borrowed around Rs.180 million from the local and foreign banks for the project. The construction work was undertaken by the Maga Engineering (pte) Ltd and at present 80 percent of the work has been completed.

Ven.Wimalajothi Thera who had been abroad for 20 years as a Buddhist missionary launched the first Buddhist Cultural Centre at Nedimala, Dehiwala with the assistance of his devotees in Malaysia to promote Buddhist publications. It has already published over 1000 books in both Sinhala and English languages. The significant religious service rendered by this centre has paved the way to established the new Buddhist Cultural Centre in Colombo with the assistance from Buddhists world over.

At present the society has been misled by many forces. After 2600 years of Buddha's Enlightenment, we must work towards a new social order based on Buddhist principles. A moral education should be given to the children in addition to school education. After the end of terrorism, peace has dawned on the country. Sri Lanka being a Buddhist country, we are proud to be Buddhists. Time has come to promote all that is indigenous. We have a great history, religion and culture to be proud of.

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