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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2521

Shani's column : Bodhi puja

By Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne

Culture and Religion are in most cases intertwined. Many people, even though they belong to different religious groups participate in each other’s cultural and religious events world over and at the Ministry of External Affairs, Sri Lanka there is no exception. The Ministry’s staff are predominantly Buddhist, followed by Christians, Muslims and Hindus.

We live at a time where there are so many interpretations to a religion, be it Buddhism, Christianity, Hindu or Islam. Moderation and tolerance advocated by all religious leaders is seemingly drifting away. At a time like this it is commendable that the Seva Vanitha Unit of the Ministry, headed by ever so gentle Mrs. Savithri Peiris, wife of Minister, Professor GL Peiris decided to have a Bodhi Puja as its Poson celebration instead of the usual Poson Bhakthi Gee.

Asian Tribune reaches an audience worldwide and some of readers may not know what a Bodhi puja is. I quote a very much acclaimed Buddhist scholar A.G.S Kariyawasam, (1933-2004) one time editor of the’ Buddhist Encyclopedia’ in this regard.

“The veneration of the Bodhi-tree (pipal tree: ficus religiosa) has been a popular and a widespread ritual in Sri Lanka from the time a sapling of the original Bodhi-tree at Buddhagaya (under which the Buddha attained Enlightenment) was brought from India by the Theri Sanghamitta and planted at Anuradhapura during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa in the third century B.C. Since then a Bodhi-tree has become a necessary feature of every Buddhist temple in the island” - “ Buddhist Ceremonies and Rituals of Sri Lanka” ( A.G.S. Kariyawasam, The Wheel Publication No. 402/404)

The full article can be accessed online at .

Bodhi puja s are always sober simple ceremonies. On the 2nd of June 2014, at the Gangaramaya temple at Hunupitiya, Colombo 2, such a sober simple ceremony was conducted with the patronage of Minister, Professor GL Pieris and madam Savithri Pieris, President of the Seva Vanitha Unit by Most Ven. Galaboda Gnanissara thero. Madam Krishanthi Perera the Vice President of Seva Vanitha, Secretary to the Ministry Madam Kshenuka Senewiratne and many others attended.

The Bodhi tree was adorned with fragrant jasmine streamers. Lotus flowers were offered and coconut oil lamps and ghee lamps were lit. Small silver pots filled with water, being poured on the sacred Bo tree by everyone who was present.

Gangaramaya Temple, is one of the most prominent urban temples in Sri Lanka. The incumbent monks understand the pulse of the city dwellers who are pressed for time. The Bodhi puja they conducted was brief but consisted of all the required components.

Here are some photos of the event.

- Asian Tribune -

Shani's column : Bodhi puja
Shani's column : Bodhi puja
Shani's column : Bodhi puja
Shani's column : Bodhi puja
Shani's column : Bodhi puja
Shani's column : Bodhi puja
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