U.S. Embassy grants $100,000 towards conservation of Rajagala Buddhist monastery

Ven. Dambara Amila Thero – Senior Lecturer, Sri Jayewardenepura University, U.S. Ambassador Michele J. Sison, Dr. N.L.A. Karunaratne, Vice Chancellor, Sri Jayewardenepura University, Professor P.B. Mandawala, Sri Jayewardenepura University, at the 30-foot reclining Buddha statue, one of the highlights of the Rajagala forest mediation site.

Ven. Dambara Amila Thero – Senior Lecturer, Sri Jayewardenepura University, U.S. Ambassador Michele J. Sison, Dr. N.L.A. Karunaratne, Vice Chancellor, Sri Jayewardenepura University, Professor P.B. Mandawala, Sri Jayewardenepura University, at the 30-foot reclining Buddha statue, one of the highlights of the Rajagala forest mediation site.

Asian Tribune
Tue, 2014-05-13 14:01 — editor

Colombo, 13 May 2014

The U.S. Embassy awarded this grant to the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in 2013 and is working closely with the University and the Department of Archeology on this important project.

Rajagala is not only significant as an ancient Buddhist monastery complex; it is also one of the rarest archeologically-untouched sites in Sri Lanka. In touring the forest-monastery site, Ambassador Sison noted that “The U.S. Embassy is proud to partner in this project so we can help forge a better understanding of Sri Lanka’s proud, unique heritage and history. It is truly an honor to be able to participate in such valuable work.”

This 400-hectare Buddhist monastic complex was constructed between the years 119 and 109 B.C. but abandoned around 993 A.D. and suffered gradual deterioration since that time. It was “re-discovered” in an archaeological survey in 1890. The U.S. grant will help identify, conserve and restore about eighty different types of monuments, including stupas, an uposathagra (building devoted to religious observances), hot water bath house, refectory, and other structures. Work began in late 2013 and will continue through 2017. Rajagala is located in the Ampara District in the Eastern Province.

Since its creation in 2001 by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation has awarded 9 grants in Sri Lanka, totaling $483,352. The program has provided financial support to more than 600 cultural preservation projects in over 100 countries. This represents a contribution of $26 million towards the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide and more importantly shows the depth of the United States’ respect for the cultural heritage of other countries. The U.S. Embassy will soon be accepting nominations for 2015 cultural preservation assistance and encourages organizations to contact the American Center for details: amcentersl@state.gov

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