PM here to mark 250 years of Siyam Nikaya establishment
Vesak celebrations on strong religious note
The Vesak celebrations this year will also have the presence of
the Thai Prime Minister who is visiting the country to commemorate
250 years since the establishing of the Siyam Maha Nikaya, with
several Buddhist organisations also preparing programs.
Day will also see the commissioning of the new ran weta (golden
fence) around the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura. The exhibiting
of sarvagna dhathu brought down from India will take place at the
Sambodhi Vihara at Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7.
The All Island
Vesak Lantern Competition will be organized in front of the Colombo
Town Hall from May 15 to 18 with prizes totalling Rs. 500,000. Preparations
have been made by the Buddha Sasana Ministry to enable priests to
engage in pindapatha (seeking alms) walking from house to house.
Padanama in Kalutara has also organized a full program to commemorate
Vesak Week. Along with the Kalutara District Sasanarakshaka Mandalaya,
it has organised a Vesak commemoration programme from May 11 to
18 with the active participation of all temples and daham schools
in the entire district.
The focus of this programme is to highlight the importance of Buddhist
principles and to promote a society which respects panchaseela (the
ceremony of the Vesak Week will take place on May 11 at 4 p.m.
A braille copy of the Dhammapada will be issued for the benefit
of visually handicapped persons and dry rations will be distributed
The All Ceylon
Buddhist Congress Bauddhaloka Festival will take place from May
15 to 18. On Vesak Day morning a pindapatha charika with the participation
of a 100 monks has been organized.
ceremony for the display of Vesak lanterns along Bauddhaloka Mawatha
will take place between 7.15 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. and the pandal at
the BMICH will be commissioned at 7.40 p.m.
As in other
years there will be a Vesak pandal erected at the Nawaloka premises
at Peliyagoda. In addition there would be bana preaching by two
eminent Buddhist Nayake Theras on May 15 and 16 commencing at 5
On May 15 the
sermon will be delivered by Rev. Kolonnawe Sri Sumangala Nayaka
Thera and on May 16 the sermon will be delivered by Rev. Uduwe Dhammaloka
Nayaka Thera. There would also be Vesak bakthi gee recital and a
cultural show on these two days commencing at 6 p.m.
up, but little else at Vesak
By Nilika Kasturisinghe
Despite the setting up of a National Organising Centre for Vesak
and plans to get the private sector and hospitality industry involved
to promote the festival, hotel managements have shown a lacklustre
They are yet
to get involved, apart from lighting up their buildings. The in-house
Vesak sermons at hotels and the guided tour of tourists to a neighbourhood
temple is unlikely to take place as arrangements are yet to be made.
A week before
Vesak, public relations officers of top hotels told The Sunday Times
preparations for Vesak were limited to lighting up their buildings.
Colombo Plaza Public Relations Executive Nirmalene Marambe said
nothing had been arranged for Vesak. This was echoed by the Mt.
Lavinia Hotel PR Desk saying "Nothing at the moment".
While the Galadari
Hotel would be lighted up as instructed, the Hilton Hotel would
also be lighted up and have one big lantern displayed. But a week
before Vesak the design for this lantern was not known.
of the Tourism Ministry and other parties to make Vesak a tourist
attraction does not appear to have been communicated to the related
industries, which did not feel that this year's Vesak would be any
different from other years.
Hilton PR Manageress Yasmine Cader said corporate clients and businessmen
go back during this time because everything is closed for Vesak,
as is the case during the Sinhala New Year.
It should be
noted that the Police played an active role before Christmas. Letters
were distributed from police stations instructing business premises
to support the festival by providing lighting.
A letter issued
on November 24, 2002 under the heading "Lighting Up and Decorating
the City during the Christmas Season and Vesak" stated that
under the aegis of the Interior Ministry all buildings in police
divisions would be lit up and decorated during this period of time.
But with just
a few days left for Vesak no such preparations appear to have been
made. The leader of the National Organising Centre for Vesak, Power
and Energy Minister Karu Jayasuriya said that more than 200 government
institutions, provincial councils and the private sector are supporting
this massive program.
Minister Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku, chairing the sub-committee
on culture and the aesthetic aspect of Vesak told The Sunday Times
that the hotels have been instructed to switch on their lights for
five days from May 14, the day before Vesak.
for the Vesak Festival got underway more than three months ahead
of the date, on the ground there is little to show for it.
faults Govt. for compromising security
An organisation of Sri Lankan expatriates based in Australia claims
that any changes to High Security Zone boundaries will threaten
the national security and the safety of civilians in Jaffna.
for Peace, Unity and Human Rights (SPUR) states that the Government's
inability to stand up to terrorism and its anaemic capitulation
to outrageous LTTE demands continue to compromise the security of
"The response of the Government to Balasingham's demands has
threatened the safety of civilians living in Jaffna and placed the
lives of men and women in our armed forces at risk.
lackadaisical response to LTTE's grandstanding has confused the
peace process and fragmented the thinking, paralyzing it from making
any rational decision" it said.
debacle is the Government's agreement to partially withdraw from
HSZs in the Jaffna Peninsula. Relocating armed forces from the Gnanam
and Subash hotels to the Jaffna Fort is another triumph for the
LTTE as it is one of the most vulnerable positions in the peninsula,
territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Sri Lanka should not
be compromised at any cost. Proscribed terrorists should not be
allowed to dictate terms to a democratically elected Government.
The Government should not permit a gang of armed terrorists to hold
19 million people hostage, it said.
the Prime Minister not to withdraw from any facilities within the
HSZs prior to the LTTE decommissioning its weapons", it concluded.
‘Govt.-LTTE relations dented’
By Faraza Farook
Recent developments have made a dent in the relations between the
government and the LTTE, but have not resulted in the negotiations
reaching a point of irreversibility, Japan's special envoy Yasushi
Akashi said on Friday.
who was visiting Sri Lanka for a week to follow up on his mission,
late last year to contribute to peace building, noted that deep
mutual distrust separated the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Government.
of political opponents and informants have resulted as a manifestation
of that distrust," Mr. Akashi said at a press briefing held
on Friday. Two specific stumbling blocks for the resumption of peace
negotiations and for the LTTE to agree to attend the international
conference to be held in Tokyo next month have to be addressed urgently,
discussions with the LTTE had revealed that the inefficiency of
the Sub Committee on Immediate Rehabilitation and Humanitarian Needs
(SIRHN) and problems relating to the final agreement on the establishment
of the North East Rehabilitation Fund (NERF) were two issues that
were of primary concern.
He said that
the LTTE felt very frustrated at the slowness in improving the living
standards of people in the North and East. The question of IDPs
were also of concern, Mr. Akashi said. "For the LTTE it is
a humanitarian question and for the Government it is a humanitarian
question combined with a security question".
During his visit to Kilinochchi on Wednesday Mr. Akashi has given
the LTTE a week's ultimatum to express its willingness to participate
at next month's Tokyo aid conference.
He said the
LTTE should participate in the event, as it will give it an opportunity
to address its concerns, hopes and aspirations. Optimistic that
the LTTE would participate at the donor conference, Mr. Akashi said
that the rebel group attached importance to the aid coming into
Sri Lanka from which it would get a significant portion. Moreover,
the LTTE's awareness of the needs of its people who have lived amidst
war and destruction and its desire to see peace dividends as quickly
as possible was seen as a catalyst that would bring it to the aid
While no estimate
on the volume of aid was made, Mr. Akashi said that the donor countries
were still watching closely the developments in the peace process
and considering if it was worthwhile betting their money.
The Tokyo conference
to be attended by 60 Governments and 20 international organizations
will send a clear and strong message that the international community
is in support of the Sri Lankan endeavour to construct solid peace,