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September 04, 2017
A Buddhist Nun's Ordination in London
On the gloriously sunny morning of the Bank holiday Monday, 28th August 2017, several hundred people gathered to witness the rare event that took place at the Sri Saddatissa International Buddhist Centre (SSIBC), Kingsbury. It was that of a fellow human being donning the precious yellow robes for the first time and going forth in the Noble dispensation of Gotama the Sammasambuddha as a 'Dasa Pabajja' or a ten-preceptor nun.

Following in the footsteps of the Maha Arahant Maha Prajapathi Gothami, Dr Shirani Gunawardena reverentially requested the Head of the Centre, the Most Venerable Aggamahapanditha Galayaye Piyadassi Nayake Thero and the Maha Sangha present on this auspicious occasion, for admittance into the Order for the Noble aim of attaining 'Nibbanassa Saccikiriyaya'- liberation from Samsara.

The ceremony commenced at 9.00 am when the Upasika, Dr Gunawardena was presented to the Maha Sangha by her relatives. This customary practice was carried out by Mr Samarasinghe Methuen accompanied by his wife Mrs Vinitha Methuen and children, Daneeta and Rasitha, Mrs Lakshmi Samarasinghe, Mr Rodney Liyanage, Mrs Indrani Liyanage, Mrs Indrani Gunawardena, daughter Dinesha, son-in-law and other relatives and friends.

Ajahn Sundara, the Head nun of the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, Hemel Hempstead, Sister Muduta of Nepal, Sister London Dhammadinna of SSIBC and Oxford Buddha Vihara, Sister Khemaka also from Amaravati and Sister Seela Mani from UK and Sri Lanka assisted in performing the traditional rituals to transform the white-clothed lay Upasika to a shaven headed, yellow robed Buddhist nun.

Ajahn Sundara administered the ten precepts following the ancient format, unique to Pabajja Dasa sil which the Upasika repeated and thus entered the Gotama the Samma Sambuddha's dispensation of monks and nuns.

The newly ordained nun, conferred with the Sasana name of 'Karuna' meaning Compassion, humbly requested the Most Venerable Vahamuve Wijewansa Nayake Thero to be her Teacher and the Most Venerable Galayaye Piyadassi Nayake Thero to be her Preceptor, both of whom graciously consented.

The dignified occasion was blessed by the presence of a number of prominent and highly respected monks from all over the UK, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar and Italy.

Namely, Most Venerable Wahamuwe Wijeyawansa Nayaka Thero, Principal Maha Vihara Pirivena, Ruwanweli Mahaseya, Anuradhapura; Ven Dr Handupelpola Mahinda Nayake Thero of SSIBC; Ven Dr Kabalewe Sirisumana Nayaka Thero, Head of Buddha Vihara, Barking; Ven Makure Mangala Thero, Head of Lumbini Vihara, East London; Ven Gunnepane Sumanarama Thero of the Samadhi Meditation Edmonton; Ven Madugalle Mahanama Thero of Sri Sambodhi Vihara, Plaistow; Phra Ajahn Sujan, Abbot of Varapunya Meditation Centre, Aberdeen; Ven Dodangoda Sumedha Thero of the Athula Dassana Vihara, Hounslow; Ven U. Withuta Thero of Britain Burma Buddhist Trust Vihara, Wembley; Ven Nepal Indrasak Thero of Lumbini Buddha Vihar (Nepalese), Greenford; Ven Dhammasila Thero of Italy; ably supported by the resident monks of SSIBC, Ven Nepale Sumana Thero, Ven Nepale Tissa Thero and Ven Galayaye Dhammadassi Thero.

Ven Wijewansa Nayake Thero spoke of the difference between 'entering the Order knowingly' and 'entering the Order because of respect to elders'. Ordaining as a child, he said he himself did not fully understand its significance until some time later. Sister Karuna he said, fell into the first category but there was much for her too to learn.

Ven Dr Kabalewe Siri Sumana Nayaka Thero spoke of what constituted the 'Sasana' - the dispensation. The Teaching (Dhamma) and the Monastic Rules (Vinaya) together made the Sasana, he said.

Ven Nepale Sumana Thero was the compere for the occasion and spoke of the ten reflections (Dasadhamma) that his own teacher taught him over quarter of a century ago. He mentioned that at the end of each day one should quietly reflect on the day's activities; to name but a few, to reflect on whether he had transgressed any of the precepts, whether he had caused anyone hurt, upset or distress that day either intentionally or unintentionally, and whether he had behaved in a manner that would leave him open to criticism from others.

Following the mid day "Buddha Puja", Maha Sangha were offered the Dana and Pirikara by the Dayaka committee and supporters of the SSIBC and lunch for all the lay devotees present, which ran into many hundreds.

Photographs by Tissa Madawela
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