Indian Catholic News

Sri Lankan Catholics join Buddhist alms giving

Festivities to mark the arrival of Buddhism also honor the memory of recent terrorism victims.

 
A mother prays at a Buddhist temple on Poson Poya Day on June 16. The festival commemorates the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in the third century B.C. (Photo by Quintus Colombage/ucanews.com)
Kurunegala : 

Catholics joined Buddhists in Sri Lanka to serve free food to thousands of pilgrims on June 16 as part of celebrations for Poson Poya Day, which annually marks the arrival of Buddhism in the third century B.C.

Volunteers manning stalls, known in Sinhalese as Dansala, handed out rice and curry as well as tea, biscuits, ice cream and other treats.

Faithful are drawn to noted holy places, especially Mihintale, a mountain peak near the city of Anuradhapura.

It is revered as the place where Arahat Mahinda Thera, a missionary monk and the son of Emperor Asoka of India, converted King Devanampiyatissa to Buddhism. He is recognized as the first Buddhist king of Sri Lanka.

Catholic Arosh Antony Fernando traveled to Kurunegala, the capital of North Western Province, where he joined with Buddhists to set up Dansala food stalls.

Religious leaders invoked blessings for victims of the nation’s recent catastrophic terrorist attacks, said Fernando, a 45-year-old teacher from the port city of Negombo.

A statue of Mother Mary and a special banner honoring terror victims featured at Dankotuwa, a small town in Puttalam district of the province.

Nine suicide bombers launched simultaneous attacks on six targets including three churches on April 21, killing 253 people, nearly all Christians. The terrorists later claimed to be affiliated with Islamic State.

For Poson Poya Day, many cities displayed artworks depicting stories from the Buddha's life as well as colorful processions and the ceremonial lighting of paper lanterns.

Buddhists make up 70 percent of Sri Lanka's population of 21 million, dwarfing the number of Hindus (13 percent), Muslims (9 percent) and Christians (7 percent).

Nadeeka Bandara, a Buddhist stall volunteer married to a Catholic, said there are many ways of promoting interreligious dialogue to achieve peace, harmony and reconciliation.

This was particularly important as Sri Lanka, still recovering from a 26-year civil war, remains prone to outbreaks of religious-based violence, not least directed at Muslims and Christians, he said.

"We are happy to do this and try to avoid racial and religious differences," said Bandara with a smile.

Pubudhu Soysa, a businessman, conducted an ice cream Dansala as a gesture of goodwill after garnering donations from other members of the business community.

Source: UCAN

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