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July 06, 2018
2018 Poson Celebrations at London Buddhist Vihara
To celebrate the Poson Poya (Dhamma Vijaya Festival) London Buddhist Vihara organized a full day of religious activities, including Buddha Vandana, Observing of Eight Precepts, Sangika Dhana, Meditation, Dhamma Sermons, Dhamma discussions and a presentation of Buddhist devotional songs by Rahula Dhamma school children. The Full Moon Day of June commemorates the beginning of the propagation of Buddhism under Emperor Asoka of India in the 3rd century B.C., and marks the introduction of the Buddha Dhamma to Sri Lanka by Arahat Maha Mahinda Thero in 246 B.C. This unique and historical event was celebrated at the Vihara premises in Chiswick on Sunday 1st July 2018.

Programme commenced with Administering the Eight Precepts and Admonition (Anusasana) by the head of the Vihara, Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain Most Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thero. More than 100 devotees from Sri Lankan and other communities observed Eight Precepts (Ata Sil) Ven. Seelawimala Nayaka Thero said in his Anusasana "It is not an exaggeration to say that the Sri Lankan culture and Poson Poya are closely associated. It was on a Poson Poya day that Arahath Maha Mahinda, son of the great Emperor Asoka of India, and a group came to Sri Lanka to spread the word of the Buddha. Arahath Mahinda, met the ruler of Sri Lanka, King Devanampiyatissa, who happened to be a good friend of Emperor Ashoka, at Mihintale, near Anuradhapura. After putting King Devanampiyatissa to the test with a series of questions and satisfying himself on the matter of the king's wisdom, he introduced the Buddha Dhamma to the king. The king accepted the Dhamma and the people of the island followed. This was a defining moment in the history of Sri Lanka."

Ven. Thawalama Bandula Thera led the Buddha Vandana, Homage to the Buddha, and Chanting. Ven. Kalugamuwe Kassapa Thera conducted a short meditation session. Later Ven. Bandula Thera delivered a Dhamma Sermon based on Maha Mahinda Theo's first sermon " Chula Hatththi Padopama Sutta" in which the Buddha encourage the people to go to an elephant to observe the creature; an evidence-based approach, not relying upon imagining things in the mind.

Ven. Kassapa Thero conducted the Buddha Puja. Sangika Dhana for the Maha Sangha and Upasika Upasikas followed. The Teachers and parents of the Rahula Dhamma School with assistance from the temple management and other supporters arranged the mid day Dana.

Customary "Pan Vedima" was performed in order to pass merit to all the teachers and parent of the Rahula Dhamma School, who have passed away. Mid day meal was provided to the rest of the devotees. Ven. Kalugamuwe Kassapa Thero and Dr. Upali Abeysiri conducted a lively discussion, questions and answers session on the topic "Revival of Sri Lanka during the 3rd Century BC with the arrival of Arahant Maha Mahinda".

Ven. Seelawimala Nayaka Thero delivered a thought-provoking sermon based on the Girimananda Sutta giving detailed explanation on the ten contemplations, contemplation of impermanence, Anatta, absence of a permanent self or soul, contemplation of foulness Asubha, s contemplation of disadvantage, contemplation of abandonment, contemplation of detachment, contemplation of cessation, contemplation of distaste for the whole world, contemplation of impermanence of all component things etcetera." Ven. Hokandara Pannawamsa Thero conducted a Vipassana Meditation secession with explanations on "Insight," a clear awareness of exactly what is happening as it happens. Venerable Thero explained how the meditator uses his concentration as a tool by which his awareness can chip away at the wall of illusion that cuts him off from the living light of reality. He said, " It is a gradual process of ever-increasing awareness into the inner workings of reality itself." Ven. Wathawana Sirisumana Nayaka Thero delivered a sermon in Sinhala based on Deva Dutha Sutta. Poson Poya programme concluded with Puja, Chanting of Paritta, passing of merit (Punyanumodana) and Poson Bhakti Gee by the children of the Sunday Dhamma School, which was organised and trained, by Niluka Vidanagamage and Madara Sathyendra Kumar with the support of the parents.

Ven. Seelawimala Nayaka Thero thanked the Maha Sangha and every one who helped in various ways to make this year's Poson Poya, Dhamma Vijaya Festival programme a great success.

Photographs by Tissa Madawela
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