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Sunday, 6 November 2011

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Kalutara Bodhi:

The sacred Bo tree of boundless faith



A view of the majestic Bodhi that stands close to the Kalutara Dagoba.

Those who are proceeding along Galle road towards Kalutara will be struck by the majestic view of the Kalutara Bodhi and its stupa nestled between the Kaluganga and the sprawling city.

It is a common sight to see people belonging to different faiths respectfully casting coins into tills kept on either side of the road. They do this in the belief that they will be protected from accidents and other road mishaps. Although certain religious places attract devotees only on Poya days, Kalutara Bodhi attracts thousands of devotees everyday round the clock.

The Bodhi which is located in the Uda Maluwa is believed to have been planted in the 16th century. It is a sapling of the world’s oldest tree Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura.

The credit for the development and making the Kalutara Bodhi a sacred place goes to the late Sir Cyril de Zoysa who was a practising lawyer in the area. He ordered the drivers of his own Swarnapali Bus Company to drop coins to the tills placed on either side of the road. He used to wake up early in the morning and visit the Bodhi. He commenced his daily routine after paying homage to the Buddha.

Drummers


The serene view of the Kalutara Stupa from a distance.

At the pinnacle laying ceremony in Pahatha Maluwa, the then British Government Agent who had been disturbed by the drumming and other noises had dispersed the devotees. However, Sir Cyril de Zoysa making a bold attempt, resumed the religious ceremonies with more than one hundred drummers. The British official who could not bear it vacated his residence.

The General Secretary of Kalutara Bodhi Trust Fund R. M. C. Bandaranayake told the Sunday Observer that the money collected from tills is utilised for a number of community projects.

“We run two elders’ homes in Yatiyana and Bombuwala in the Kalutara district. A Bhikkhu ward has been built in Kalutara, Nagoda General Hospital and we are maintaining it. A fund has been set up to help Bhikkhus especially those who go for heart surgeries. We are looking into the possibility of extending it to laymen as well.

He said the Bodhi Trust saves 50-60 cattle from death on every other Poya day. On Poson Poya days the number of cattle saved from death exceeds 90.

Blood donation


Sir Cyril de Zoysa.

He said the Kalutara Bodhi Trust is the biggest contributor to the Blood Bank because blood donation campaigns are held every Poya day at the premises.

“There is a lot of transparency in our dealings. As a result many people come forward to make donations. Although there is no temple or Bhikkhus involved in the administration, the Kalutara Bodhi Trust is managed well by the trustees.

The Bodhi Trust collects a large sum of money mostly in the form of coins. The money is deposited in banks and it is used to finance the on-going projects.

Bandaranayake also said that the trust gives scholarships to students who do extremely well at the G.C.E. O/L examination, provided they had attended Dhamma schools. The Trust Fund also runs Dhamma schools in the English medium for the benefit of the children in the rural areas in the Kalutara district. A fully equipped library is set up and maintained by the Trust Fund. It is located in close proximity to the Bodhi. He said there are more than 60,000 books in several languages specially relating to Buddhism. It is a resourceful library for those who wish to do research on Buddhism. He also said Rupees one million worth books are donated to Samanera Bhikkhus in the Kalutara district on an annual basis.

Special programs

The Bodhi Trust conducts special programs on Saturdays and Sundays. Meditation programs are held on Saturdays and Nava Arahadi puja is held on Sundays.

 

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