Category Archives: Sri Lanka

Navigating the musical sea with Prinivan Mangalyaya

The Island
August 13, 2016, 12:00 pm
Anoja Weerasinghe

Dusk was slowly falling upon Abhina Academy of Performing Arts in Bellanvila, as the timbre of musically-bent sailors of the Sri Lanka Navy filled the tranquil environs in reverence to Lord Buddha. Rehearsing for the cantata pirinivan mangalyaya, originally created by the doyen of Lankan music, Premasiri Khemadasa were the naval voices fine-tuned by his musician daughter Gayathri Khemadasa. Caught in a melodious reverie, we spoke to the talent behind the ambitious musical feat which is to come alive soon at the Nelum Pokuna theatre.

On notifying the unusual earth tremors, Bhikku Ananda who functions as a valet to Lord Buddha approached him. After paying the due respect by worshipping His feet, inquired the reason behind those unusual signals of the mother earth.

Thus our Lord has answered: ‘Ananda, the mother earth has shaken herself on two occasions earlier, that of my birth and attainment of Buddhahood by defeating Vasavarthi Maara (the death) under the Bo tree. When the day nearing of my demise, the mother earth has started releasing her tremors again…’

Thus goes the English rendering of an extract from Pirinivan Mangalyaya, original verses of which were composed during the time of the Kandyan kingdom by an unknown folk poet based on the popular Parinirvana Sutta. They were collected and published by J.E. Sedaraman. The original Pali sutta is a reportage of the demise of Lord Buddha and the rituals which followed afterwards, written in hyperbolic and metaphorical language.
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Buddhist sacred bone relics from Pakistan to arrive in Sri Lanka on Vesak festival

The Nation
May 18, 2016, 5:25 pm

COLOMBO: In order to be part of the most important annual Vesak Buddhist Festival falling on 21st May, the government of Pakistan is providing the most sacred bone relics of Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka for exposition throughout Sri Lanka.

The exposition is being organized on the request of the Sri Lankan government under the bilateral cooperation agreement in the field of Culture.

The relics will be arriving in Sri Lanka for an extended period on the auspicious day of Vesak on 21st May 2016 and will be exhibited until Full Moon Poson Poya Day.

The Sri Lankan Minister for Sustainable Development and Wildlife Hon. Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Secretary Ministry of Buddhasasana Mr. Wasantha Ekanayaka, Venerable Thiniyawala Palitha Thero, Chief Incumbent Nalandramaya, Nugegoda along with other high level officials left for Pakistan today to bring the sacred relics.

The sacred relics will be handed over by the Pakistani authorities to the Sri Lankan side in a special ceremony to be held at Taxilla on 19th of May 2016 Continue reading

U.S. Continues Support for Sri Lankan Cultural and Religious Heritage

Rajagala Monastery

Rajagala Monastery: The new 50,000 grant with the University of Sri Jayewardenepura to continue restoring the Rajagala Monastery adds to the previous 00,000 grant from 2013 for the same project.

Mon, 2015-10-05 18:30
Colombo, 05 October, (Asiantribune.com):

As part of its continuing efforts to preserve Sri Lanka’s cultural and religious heritage, the Embassy of the United States of America is pleased to announce new grants totaling $300,000 (42.1 million LKR) to help restore the ancient Buddhist Rajagala Monastery and improve preservation of artifacts at the Anuradhapura Archeological Museum.

Rajagala Monastery: The new 50,000 grant with the University of Sri Jayewardenepura to continue restoring the Rajagala Monastery adds to the previous 00,000 grant from 2013 for the same project.

“The United States recognizes the importance of preserving Sri Lankan religious and cultural heritage sites and has committed 100 million Sri Lankan Rupees to this effort since 2005,” said U.S. Ambassador Atul Keshap. “We hope that our cooperation with Sri Lanka to preserve cultural heritage sites will help raise international awareness and provide a boost for tourism and people-to-people understanding.”

Under the new grant, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura will receive $150,000 from the U.S. Embassy through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) to continue its restoration of the Rajagala Monastery. The funding will support a detailed ground survey of the monastery and conserve some of the most important monuments used by early Buddhist priests. This is the second phase of U.S. assistance on this project, adding to an initial $100,000 grant from 2013. Continue reading

President unveils archeologically restored historic Abayagiriya Stupa Featured

President Maithripala Sirisena unveiled the archeologically restored historic Abayagiriya Chaithya (Stupa) for the public on Friday (31), the Esala Poya Day.

President Maithripala Sirisena unveiled the archeologically restored historic Abayagiriya Chaithya (Stupa) for the public on Friday (31), the Esala Poya Day.

news.lk

President Sirisena offered the first pooja for the renovated Abhayagiriya Stupa and declared open the stupa for devotees.

Located at the northern inner city of the Anuradhapura ancient town, the Abayagiriya Stupa, which is 345 feet in height and 1,355 feet around was being renovated for the last 18 years by the Central Cultural Fund.

The restoration work, initiated as a UNESCO project in 1997 had cost Rs. 519.5 million. The funds for the project were gathered from the earning of the Central Cultural Fund (CCF) and from the donations of both local and international devotees as well as international organizations.

Addressing the gathering the President said Buddhist philosophy is accepted not only by the Buddhists but also by all righteous people throughout the world due to the uniqueness and supremacy of this philosophy. Buddhist philosophy is the only way to create honest people and a spiritual society, he said.

“While the developed countries speak about their scientific and technological developments, we have a proud heritage going back to centuries. Based on this heritage we should build the sound future for our future generation” the President said.

The President remembered all the forefathers including King Walagamba who built the world renowned Stupa. Continue reading

Book Review: Illuminating the Life of the Buddha: An Illustrated Chanting Book from Eighteenth-century Siam (2013)

Review by Jeffrey Martin

illumbuddhaAppleton, Naomi, Sarah Shaw, and Toshiya Unebe. Illuminating the Life of the Buddha: An Illustrated Chanting Book from Eighteenth-century Siam. Oxford, England: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 2013. Print. 142 pp.

This brief book describes and illustrates (in 86 photographs) an 18-century samut khoi, an illuminated Thai manuscript now in the collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford University.

The manuscript’s format is traditional to Buddhist texts in many countries: a stack of long sheets of paper bound between planks of leather, wood, lacquer, or other hard material as covers.  This particular manuscript was made of several sheets of paper joined into one long piece, folded fan-like, into a stack 660mm long by 95mm wide. Each fold in the fan contains two flanking illustrations, with text in the center, but the content of the paintings and the text are only loosely related.   The text is an assortment of canonical material, from Vinaya to Abhidhamma to Qualities of the Buddha.  The illustrations depict the last 10 Jātaka stories, the early life of the Bodhisatta, and the Life of the Buddha.  It is possible this text was created in Thailand specifically for Sri Lankan monks and thus contains what were considered essential texts to help restore what was then a lapsed monastic tradition.

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A visual map of the manuscript

A textual map of the manuscript

A textual map of the manuscript

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Cultural Artifacts Bear the Brunt in the Island of Treasure Hunters

The reclining Buddha at Danagirigala which lost an eye and suffered other damage in 2005/photographs by Department of Archaeology Sri Lanka / dpa

The reclining Buddha at Danagirigala which lost an eye and suffered other damage in 2005/photographs by Department of Archaeology Sri Lanka / dpa

New Indian Express
By Doreen Fiedler
Published: 15th March 2015

The reclining Buddha statue in Danagirigala, Sri Lanka, now only has one eye. Treasure hunters pulled out the other one. The stone pillow that the Buddha rests his golden, curly-haired head on even has a hole in it.

“The perpetrators were hoping to find gold, silver, precious stones or ivory,” says Senarath Dissanayake, director general of Sri Lanka’s Department of Archaeology. Destructive treasure-hunting is a major problem

in the island country off the tip of India.

“Treasure hunting is based only on folklore about great riches. It has no scientific basis,” Dissanayake says.

The culprits in Danagirigala went home empty-handed, as did the ones who damaged a stupa (Buddhist burial mound) in Danowita or in Nurwarakanda where treasure-hunters drilled into the chest, belly button and pedestal of a seated Buddha statue.

Over the past two decades, police have come across more than 4,000 cases of such vandalism. The situation was particularly bad in 2012 and 2013 with the floors of caves dug up, the houses of former chieftains torn down and monks’ dwellings destroyed.

On average there was more than one such act every day. “The trend is a consequence of the fact that people no longer have morals and ethics,” Dissanayake says. Continue reading

An island’s damaged heritage

The reclining Buddha at Danagirigala, Sri Lanka which lost an eye and suffered other damage in 2005. Photo courtesy of Department of Archaeology Sri Lanka/DPA

The reclining Buddha at Danagirigala, Sri Lanka which lost an eye and suffered other damage in 2005. Photo courtesy of Department of Archaeology Sri Lanka/DPA

The Nation
Doreen Fiedler
Deutsche PresseAgentur
Colombo, Sri Lanka March 9, 2015 1:00 am

The reclining Buddha statue in Danagirigala, Sri Lanka now only has one eye. Treasure hunters pulled out the other one. The stone pillow on which the Buddha rests his golden, curly-haired head has a hole in it.

“The perpetrators were hoping to find gold, silver, precious stones or ivory,” says Senarath Dissanayake, director general of Sri Lanka’s Department of Archaeology. Destructive treasure hunting is a major problem in the island country off the tip of India.

“Treasure hunting is based only on folklore about great riches. It has no scientific basis,” Dissanayake says.

The culprits in Danagirigala went home empty-handed, as did the ones who damaged a stupa (Buddhist burial mound) in Danowita and in Nurwarakanda where treasure-hunters drilled into the chest, belly button and pedestal of a seated Buddha statue.

Over the past two decades, police have come across more than 4,000 cases of such vandalism. The situation was particularly bad in 2012 and 2013 with the floors of caves dug up, the houses of former chieftains torn down and monks’ dwellings destroyed.

On average there was more than one such act every day.

“The trend is a consequence of the fact that people no longer have morals and ethics,” Dissanayake says.

The remains of a brick and plaster Buddha statue at Hebessa that was destroyed by treasure hunters. Photo courtesy of Department of Archaeology Sri Lanka/DPA

The remains of a brick and plaster Buddha statue at Hebessa that was destroyed by treasure hunters. Photo courtesy of Department of Archaeology Sri Lanka/DPA


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