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July 26, 2017
SSIBC Devotees Felicitates Aggamahapanditha Ven. Galayaye Piyadassi Sangha Nayaka Thero
A vast crowd gathered at the Sri Saddhatisa International Buddhist Centre on Wednesday 28 June, in the afternoon, to Bless Aggamahapandita Galayaye Piyadassi Nayaka Thero on his 70 Birthday. Ven. (Dr) Handu Pelpola Mahinda Nayaka Thero with the support of the resident monks and together devotees had arranged a felicitation programme for this day as well, as a larger event on 2 July 2017.

As the devotees arrived for the 7.00PM ceremony on 28th June they were given candles to light and a 1000 candles were lit on a structure built by Jayaratne Bandara in the front yard of the Temple. Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero conducted the Bodhi Pujava, later.

Many monks had come from various Sri Lankan Buddhist Temples here. Ven. Kongasdeniye Ananda Nayaka Thero, Head of the Dhammacakka Vihare in Paris, Ven. Murungasyaye Gnanissara Nayaka Thero, Head of the Jethavana Buddhist Vihare in Paris, who are closely associated with Ven Piyadassi Nayaka Thero came especially for this ceremony to honour him. Ven.(Dr) Akutetiye Nanda Sangha Nayaka Thero, Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero and Uluwitake Bodhiseeha Thero who came from Sri Lanka for this event, also participated.

On Sunday 2 July 2017 a second, and larger event was organised at the Tylers Hall of the Kingsbury High School, London NW9 9AA, with special invitees participating.The Nayaka Theros of almost all Sri Lanka Buddhist Temples in the UK were present, besides HE.Sugeeshwara Gunaratna, Deputy High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, Councillor Margaret Devine,the Worshipful Mayor of Harrow, Councillor Bhagwanji Chohan, the Worshipful Mayor of Brent, Councillor Kareema Marikar, Deputy Mayor of Harrow, Hon. Leslie Morgan, Representative Deputy Lieutenant for Harrow, Councillor Kana Naheerathan, former Mayor of Brent, Mr Nizam Ismail, former Mayor of Harrow, Mr Victor Cherubin, Chair, Council for Cultural Affairs of Tamils, Dr Zimar Sivardeen, President/Chairman, British Sri Lanka Association were among the guests who placed lit tea lights on the stage at the opening ceremony. Most Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thero of the London Buddhist Vihare offered Pansil.

On behalf of Ven( Dr) Handu Pelpola Mahinda Nayaka Thero and the organising committee Mr Chandra Monerawela, Trustee, welcomed the guests. He extended special thanks to those who have come from Sri Lanka especially for this event, besides the monks mentioned previously, like Senior Professor Mudiyanse Dissanayake of the University of Performing and Visual Arts and Kala Vedi Jagath Wickremasinghe. He said that this event was not a mere celebration of Aggamahapandita Galayaye Piyadassi Nayaka Thero's Birthday, it was more a celebration of his achievements since his arrival in this country in 1984, the services he has rendered to the community at large, to the propagation of Buddhism and Sri Lankan Culture. This was also an occasion for the community to show their gratitude to him.

Ven.(Dr) Akuretiye Nanda Sangha Nayaka Thero described in details his valuable contribution to propagating the Dhamma and Sri Lankan culture. He said while Ven. (Dr) Hammalawa Saddhatissa Nayaka Thero contribute to the development of Buddhism in the UK and Europe, Ven Piyadassi Nayaka Thero continued this tradition while also combining it with a cultural heritage. The organising committee had arranged a appropriate programme from 4.00 PM to 7.00 PM, including a short film highlighting Venerable Piyadassi Nayaka Theros activites in this country.

Venerable Galayaye Dhammadassi, Secretary of the SSIBC thanked all those who helped to stage these celebrations and especially Professor Mudiyanse Dissanayaka, Mr Jagath Wickremasinghe, Mr A.P. Atthanayake and Ms Anju Dabare who all assisted to design the programme.

Photographs by Praneeth Hettiarachchi
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