The greatest Buddhist woman, heroic figure
With power’n impact in Buddhist Literature
If not for her dauntless overwhelming hardships
The Buddhist world wouldn’t have known her leadership.
The only sister of mother Queen Maha Maya
Gothami born in ancient India in Devadaha.
Her Father Suppabuddha, mother Maha Lumpini
As soothsayers predicted, named Maha Pajapathi Gothami.
Seven days after birth of Prince Siddhartha
Demise of Queen Maya made Gothami Podiamma
With social concepts then, she married King Suddhodhana
Amidst great affection, grew Bodisatva Prince Siddhartha.
The new Queen’s magnanimous gesture, maternal
Nurtured, nursed showering everything heavy enterprise
Earned gratitude, Buddhist world divinely qualities
A position of obligation for Prince Siddhartha, in loyalties.
Maha Pajapathi Gothami a few years later
Gave birth, a son’n a beautiful daughter
Prince Siddhartha, Prince Nanda, Sundari Nanda princess
The three enjoyed affection in equal tenderness.
King Suddhodhana’s death changed Gothami’s
She decided to renounce worldly pleasures, good life
Reiterated Buddha thrice, to enter Sangha, only request
With fortitude overcame impediments to gain conquest
Touching upon sense of gratitude, delicate matter
Great quality extolled by Buddha’s unanimously
Armed with facts’n figures relevant venerable Ananda
With undaunted determination approached Sakyamuni
Buddha’s devoted close associate Ven. Ananda
Approached The Enlightened One importuned repeatedly
Fervent continuous appeals gained victory ultimately
Buddha imposed eight regulation, Bhikkuni Order carefully.
Kapilavasthu to Vesali her gruelling march for
Distance, hundred’n fifty miles sans lamentation
Pajapathi Gothami’s steadfast commitment, determination
Opened doors for womankind anywhere seek emancipation.
All women should extremely be grateful, her endeavour
Centuries ago the only woman stood in our favour.
An occasion to commemorate, pay homage monthly
Immense achievement, new chapter significant historically.
- Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon
A huge act of faith
|The site of the statue
Surrounded by lush greenery, on a granite rock,
the largest Samadhi Buddha statue of Lord Buddha is fast taking
shape at the Vidyasagara Pirivena Vihara, Moneragala - in the village
of Rambodagalla in the Kurunegala district. It is apparently the
largest such undertaking since the end of the Polonnaruwa era.
It was the senseless destruction of the two colossal
Buddha statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001 that inspired the
Chief Incumbent of the Vihara, Ven. Egodamulle Amaramoli Thera to
undertake such a mammoth task. Initially a committee was appointed
to study the feasibility of the idea. With the Thera receiving the
support of all the “dayakayas” of his temple as well
as other associates, it was decided that, instead of lamenting the
destruction of the Buddha statues in Bamiyan, this irrational act
of destruction would be used to reinforce the determination among
Buddhists to overcome and defy such impediments.
|Ven. Egodamulle Amaramoli Thera
Initially Amaramoli Thera approached several local
sculptors to ascertain their views on carving a statue out of a
rock but as they were reluctant to undertake the project, through
one of his close confidants D. Ishwaran, the Thera met with a leading
South Indian sculptor Padmasri Shipla Kalamani M.Muthiah Sthapathi.
After a preliminary discussion in Chennai, the
master sculptor came to the Rambodagalla temple in March 2002 and
having examined the 70 foot high rock within the Vihara premises
agreed to under- take the project. He decided the height of the
statue would be 67.5 feet. Although this is the first statue of
the Buddha that Mr. Sthapathi has undertaken to sculpt, his other
accomplishments include carving a 60-foot tall statue of Lord Krishna
in Calcutta on granite as well as several other sculptures in leading
temples in India.
Work began in late 2002 with eight Indian sculptors
working under the supervision of Mr. Sthapathi. With the total estimated
cost of the project at around Rs. 12 million including payment for
workers and equipment needed, it seemed a Herculean task. Much of
the work on the facial features of the Buddha is now complete and
the statue is expected to be completed by April next year.
The once solid rock is now clearly beginning to
show the outline of the figure with the sculptors working with great
dedication in the sweltering sun to complete this undertaking of
Indian High Commissioner Nirupama Rao has been
among the distinguished visitors to the site where the statue of
the seated Buddha is taking shape. The High Commissioner who visited
the temple in February this year also made a generous donation of
Indian rupees one million (nearly Rs 2.4 million) towards this project.
“I am deeply privileged to be present here
at the site of what is to be the world’s largest granite statue
of Lord Buddha whose eternal message of peace, love and compassion
to all living beings provides a powerful beacon in our daily lives,”
wrote High Commissioner Rao in the visitors’ book at the Vihara.
This statue, once completed, will once more remind
people of the Buddha’s message in the same manner that all
such statues such as those at “Aukana” and Gal Vihare
in Polonnaruwa have been doing for hundreds of years.
They light up the Vesak nights
On the night of Vesak and for several nights after,
the glow of the moon is eclipsed by the brilliance of the many Vesak
pandals around the city. These huge structures that are a unique
Sri Lankan aspect of Vesak celebrations, are works of art that combine
the many skills of artists, painters, electricians and minor workers
to achieve the final masterpiece.
The pandals combine panels of pictures that tell
a story from either the life of Lord Buddha, His previous births
(also known as the Pansiya Panas Jathakaya), or from the history
of Buddhism. In the centre, there is always a statue of Lord Buddha.
Thousands of tiny coloured bulbs illuminate the pictures, often
blending in with the pictures themselves.
A pandal is the result of months of hard work and labour. At the
Gangaramaya temple in Colombo, this year’s Vesak pandal is
a creation of student volunteers from the Sri Jinaratana Technical
College. “Village students have a natural aptitude for such
things,” says Electrical Instructor, Rohan Nanayakkara, as
he supervises the final stages of the pandal’s construction.
The story is chosen by the priest, and given over to a teacher who
will supervise the students as they paint the pictures. The electrical
part of the task is also done by the students, he says, adding that
it is a wonderful opportunity for them to work together and bring
out their talents as well as get some practical training.
|A vesak Pandle
The pandal at the Parliament grounds tells the
story of ‘Dasa Raja Dharmaya’ and is a creation of veteran
artist Jayasiri Semage. Originally to have been constructed near
President’s House, it was moved there at the last minute due
to security reasons. “Now we are working night and day to
finish this on time,” says a worker at the site. At a height
of 62 feet and with over 40,000 bulbs to be put in place, it is
no easy task.
Work on the pandal at the Borella junction was
started in early January, says an electrician as he supervises the
final touches of his crew. The paintings were done by Pushpananda
Denipitiya and the script was written by Mervin Senaratne. The pandal
will be on view for about a week, he says, after which it is taken
down and the picture panels put away, unless they are requested
Pandals were part of the revival of Buddhism that
occurred during the last stages of British rule in Sri Lanka, says
Professor J.B. Disanayaka, when Vesak and the day preceding it were
declared public holidays. The idea behind it may have come from
Indian sculptures which were used to depict stories, he says.
Along with the kudus, the pandals, with their
bright lights, pictures and story-telling, add colour to the Vesak
celebrations, and to see one in all its glory at night and take
in its special message is an experience not to be missed.