Do not limit Vesak festival only to circulars. - Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena

The Prime Minister held a discussion on holding next month’s Vesak festival at Temple Trees on 10.04.2023 with the participation of venerable Theras representing Colombo Shasanarakshaka Bala Mandala and officials from Buddhist associations and government institutions.

The Prime Minister in his speech said;

“This discussion is being held as a program to guide our young generation to celebrate Vesak meaningfully. We are approaching a time when the missionary movement of propagating Buddhism can be directed to a new transformation. It is necessary to join hands together and work in achieving that goal.

Our great kings and ancestors have contributed to make the Vesak festival a success. Arrangements have already been started to celebrate the Vesak festival in the temples in Colombo. Government institutions and private institutions should support the temples in preparing a suitable environment for organizing these meritorious deeds.

The Venerable Thera in-charge of Colombo Shasanarakshaka Bala Mandala is present here today. Venerable Elle Gunawamsa Thera, who provides religious leadership to Bauddhaloka area, managed to resolve all the hindrances in celebrating Vesak in previous years through negotiation. Even today Vesak is celebrated amid many obstacles. But let us determine to lead the country towards this massive transformation in the face of those obstacles”.

Venerable Elle Gunawamsa Thera explained,

“Our Vesak festival has a long history dated back to the reign of King Devanam Piyatissa. Later, each and every king of Anuradhapura era has celebrated the Vesak festival. They celebrated Vesak and were crowned at the end. That is how it is mentioned in our history. However, today the importance of Vesak festival has diminished. We also celebrated Buddhist festivals such as Vesak, Poson, Esala and Nikini. These festivals mean togetherness, harmony and everyone’s commitment to work. Only Vesak and Poson are left from the history of Buddhist celebrations at present.

If the Vesak festival diminishes in its importance, it will also be like Atawaka and Amavaka the darkest days of the month. Vesak is celebrated with colourful decorations. That decoration should be illuminated. When Vesak is approaching, it is not good that laymen and clergy alike to issue announcements asking them to give priority to Buddhist principles. Due to the Vesak festival, many electrical technicians, musicians, craftsmen, painters and actors have been discovered. Many leading actors and singers of this country have come forward through Vesak plays and singing events including Bhakthi Geetha. The origin of many artistes and dramatists are also the same. It is the duty of the government and the Buddhist people to protect this festival.

National unity can be created through this. Vesak decorations can be done with the involvement of people who follow any other religion in the country. They can come and eat at our Dan -salas. I appreciate the Prime Minister’s endeavor to protect this festival. Making Vesak lanterns is another good deed practiced during Vesak. No one commits sin while making a Vesak lantern. Everyone in the house spends an hour or two without resorting to sin. It is also an event to showcase different opinions and creativity.

Government intervention is needed to protect Vesak festival. Tourists from foreign countries like Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia visit to this country to witness Vesak celebrations. They are surprised to see our Dan-salas. It’s not just about giving away. We live with an amazing cultural history where even a beast is not allowed to go hungry”.

Venerable Theras representing Colombo Shasanarakshaka Bala Mandala, State Minister Dr. Suren Raghawan, Yadamini Gunawardena MP, Prime Minister’s Secretary Anura Dissanayake, Ministry Secretaries, Colombo District Secretary K. G. Wijesiri, Municipal Commissioner Bhadrani Jayawardena, Divisional Secretaries representing Colombo District, Inspector General of Police C.D. Wickramaratne and many representatives from Buddhist organizations and Tri-Forces participated in the discussion.

Prime Minister’s Media Division