06/09/2009, 00.00
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Christians and Buddhists to rebuild post-war Sri Lanka together

by Melani Manel Perera
Christian priests and religious promote activities to rediscover the importance of religion and the Buddhist doctrine of non-violence on the occasion of Poson, a festivity that celebrates the spread of Buddhism on the island. Christians and Buddhists have share “responsibility towards life in Sri Lanka’s society,” says Fr Sarath Iddamalgoda.
Kelaniya (AsiaNews) – “Christians and Buddhists must work together to promote ahimsa, the doctrine of non-violence, so as to reduce the suffering of all those who have experienced the brutality of war,” said  Fr Sarath Iddamalgoda, a priest involved in defending human rights and promoting cooperation among Christians and Buddhists as a way to rebuild the country.

The day Buddhists celebrate Poson, which marks the beginning of Buddhism on the island nation, is “an ideal moment for Buddhists and Christians to reflect upon their shared responsibility towards life in Sri Lanka’s society,” Father Iddamalgoda said.

The clergyman, who is a senior animator of Sramabimani Kendraya , an association that promotes meetings and dialogue that focus on the importance of religion and the doctrine of non-violence, has promoted together with other Christians religious leaders an initiative to bear witness and show solidarity to the Buddhist community.

For three days they took part Poson celebrations by organising activities for Poson Bathi Gee in Ekala, then in Walana,  Kotugoda and Kelaniya..

Father Iddamalgoda told AsiaNews that “at this time in the country’s history, after the end of the war, many people have forgotten the value of ahimsa. The population has tended to be more influenced by a Sinhalese Buddhist ideology than by the central tenets of Buddhism.” The Christian-sponsored three days of activities stems from this realisation.

Sramabimani Kendraya coordinator Sr Noel Christine Fernando said that the initiative was useful “to help Buddhists rediscover the importance and relevance of religion in everyday life.” This can help them escape “from leading an artificial life in an environment foreign to Buddhist tradition and marked by social violence.”

One of the most important meetings was held on Sunday at the Tulana Research Centre, an organisation devoted to inter-faith dialogue headed by Fr Aloy Peiris, who used the occasion to relate the story of an exemplary young Buddhist woman.

“Right after Tamil Tiger leader Prabhakaran was killed, the whole country began celebrating his death,” said the Jesuit priest. “In the main cities and towns people took to the streets, setting off firecrackers. But whilst everyone was celebrating the end of the war, Nadeeka Jayasekara, a young Buddhist woman who used to attend the Ganewewa Purana Vihara Sunday School, went house to house visiting villagers, inviting them to go to their local temple to offer flowers and oil lamps in remembrance of all those, friends or foes, who died during the war. Everyone responded to her invitation and was glad to do as bidden.”

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