Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena hoisted the Buddhist flag officially commencing the Vesak week at ancient Deepadutthamarama Thai Temple, Kotahena on 02.05.2023.
It is significant that after the Buddhist flag was designed, it was first hoisted in 1885 at this Kotahena, Deepaduttamarama ancient Thai Temple.
The Prime Minister pointed out in his speech that “the Buddhist flag following its process of designing was freshly presented to the world on this sacred land.
The festival of Vesak, the day of birth, enlightenment and mahaparinirvana of the Buddha, has been celebrated by Buddhists for centuries. Symbolizing that heritage, the Buddhist flag was first hoisted on this sacred ground and gifted to entire world.
“On behalf of the President and the Government, I express my gratitude as the Prime Minister for the action taken by Venerable Waskaduwe Mahindawamsa Nayaka Thera to hoist the Buddhist flag again, symbolizing the beginning of the Vesak week.
The Buddhist Council appointed a ten-member committee to celebrate Vesak as a festival since Vesak Day was declared a holiday by a Gazette on March 27, 1885. The Committee consisted of Maha Sangha including Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera, Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera and laymen including Don Carolis Hewawitharana, A.P. Dharmagunawardena, William de Abrew, P. D. Gunawardena, Charles de Silva, N.S. Fernando, Peter de Abrew and William Fernando.
It was decided to hoist a Buddhist flag in that committee on the morning of April 28, 1885 at Deepaduttharama, Kotahena, Colombo. It is a unique fact that this Buddhist flag raised in Kotahene is still being practised around the world for almost 15 decades. These committee decisions functioned as it was decided and the Buddhist flag was created on the guidance of Col. Henry Steel Olcott.
Migettuwatte Gunananda Nayaka Thera, who explained the non-violence and depth of Buddhism to the country and the world, and led Panadurawadaya which regenerated the whole country. This temple where the statue of Nayaka Thera is built in is unique to the people of our country and the growing generation.
The relationship between Sri Lanka and Thailand that stretches back many centuries extends from the establishment of Buddha Sasana to the Siam Maha Nikaya, the Amarapura Nikaya, and the Ramanya Nikaya. As a result of the connectivity established with the Theravada Buddhist lands, the time spent by the Royal Prince of Siam (Thailand) as a monk in this temple is historically important.
Deepadutthamarama is not only important for the Buddhist history of our country, but also for becoming a center of Buddhism with the special commitment shown by Siam to further strengthen the Buddhist flag.
The fact that Kumara Vidyalaya, which has provided education to many school children, is also located on this land, which has become the center to spread the Buddha’s message that our Nayaka Theras has been safeguarding and propagating.
This temple, as a centre for all the leaders who took part in national and Buddhist revival in our country such as Anagarika Dharmapala, nourished by the visits of most Venerable Saranakara Maha Sangharaja Thera who awakened the nation, contributed to overcome a challenging time for imparting education, Buddhist education, cultural practices and arts to the people of our country.
We respect all of its founders who were able to render that immense service to the entire country.
I declare on behalf of the government that steps would be taken to declare this place a sacred place of worship in no time”
Maha Sangha including Venerable Vaskaduwe Mahindawamsa Maha Nayaka Thera graced the occasion while Thailand Ambassador Poj Harnpol, Minister of Buddha Sasana Vidura Wickramanayake, State Ministers Ashoka Priyantha, Janaka Vakkambura, Parliamentarians Yadamini Gunawardena, Sarath Weerasekera, Students and representatives from Buddhist Associations were present.