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May 17, 2017
Vesak Poya celebrated at London Buddhist Vihara
Two days of religious programmes were held at the London Buddhist Vihara on the 13th and 14th May to celebrate the 2017 Vesak Poya Day. On the 13th Saturday special programme was arranged for the student of the Rahula Dhamma School. Main Vesak programme was held on the 14th Sunday with a large number of devotees from Sri Lankan and other communities participating.

The programme commenced with the hoisting of the Buddhist flag by High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom, H.E. Amari Wejewardene followed by the lighting of the traditional lamp.

More than 200 devotees observed Eight Precepts, Atasil. Ven. Thawalama Bandula Thera conducted the Administering of the Precepts. In his Anusasana Ven. Bandula Thera said that the Head of the Vihara, Chief Sanghanayaka of Great Britain Most Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera had to miss this years Vesak programme as Nayaka Thera had to visit Sri Lanka at the invitation of the government to participate in the UN International Vesak Festival. Talking on the importance of the Vesak day in the Buddhist calendar he said that "Vesak commemorates three significant events in the Buddha's life. The first is His birth. It is said that His mother Queen Maha Maya was travelling from Kapilavasthu, her husband's kingdom, to her father's kingdom to give birth to her first child. On the way however, her son Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born under a Sal tree in the garden of Lumbini. The second event which is commemorated is the Buddha's Enlightenment seated under a Bodhi Tree, in Bodh Gaya in India. The Buddha's Parinirvana is also remembered on Vesak Poya day. The Buddha was 80 years old, travelling with his cousin Ananda preaching the Dhamma, but his health was steadily deteriorating. His Parinirvana (passing away) occurred in a peaceful grove of Sal trees in Kushinagar, surrounded by his disciple monks."

Paying homage to the Buddha, Buddha Vandana and session of mediation was conducted by Ven.Kalugamuwe Kassapa Thera. After a short break Ven. Thawalama Bandula Thera delivered day's first Sermon.

Mid day Buddha Puja and Dana offering to the Ven. Maha Sanga and Upasaka Upasikas followed by Lunch for all the other participants.

Bhikku Ahimsako from the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery delivered a Dhamma talk on "Practicing the teaching of the Buddha". Ven. Maha Brithanyaye Kassapa Thera delivered a sermon in Sinhala.

This years Key Note Speech was delivered by Dr. Steven Kemper, Professor of Anthropology at Bates College, Lewiston, USA. He gave a thought provoking and informative talk on " Anagarika Dharmapala's role in Instituting Vesak around the world". Dr.Amal Gunasena, Senior Fellow at the University of London, introduced the guest speaker.

After Pariththa Chanting Ven. Bandula Thera gave Punyanuodana and said that he was happy to see such a large number of devotees from many communities attending this year's Vesak Day programme. He thanked all the supporters of the Vihara, Children and the Parents of the Rahula Dhamma School, Vihara Management Committee, Chief Guest the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka and the devotees who spent their precious time and worked so hard to make the programme a huge success.

As a part of their Annual programme The Sri Lanka Women's Association has donated valuable and greatly useful equipment to the Vihara.
Programme concluded with a presentation of Buddhist Devotional Songs by Rahula Dhamma School teachers and parents.

Photographs by Tissa Madawela
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