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Vesak May 2016 Print
Written by Dr Sena Nanayakkara   

Vesak Celebrations at Leicester Buddhist Vihara 2016

Leicester Buddhist Vihara celebrated the 2016 Vesak Day on Sunday 22nd May with a full day religious programme held at Braunstone Civic Hall in Leicester under the guidance of the 3 resident monks led by Ven Dunukayawatte Ratnajothi- head of the Vihara.

Main theme of the day was the opportunity for the members and the devotees of the East Midlands Buddhist Association (EMBA) to observe the Eight Precepts.

For the 1st time since the start of the Leicester Buddhist Vihara in 1990, a group of non Sri Lankan  Buddhists domiciled  in Leicestershire, UK also observed the Ashtanga sila( Eight Precepts) along with the dhamma school  students and regular devotees - young  & the elders.

The religious activities commenced in the morning, with a brief introduction by Ven Dodamgoda Sumedha,  on the significance of the Buddha Day (Vesak Day).  Ven Sumedha then administered the Ashtanga Sila to all the devotees including the Non Sri Lankan Group. The hall was beautifully decorated with Buddhist flags and  the colourful Vesak lanterns  assembled by the students.

The 3 groups- dhamma school students, the non Sri Lankan Group and the Sri Lankan group were provided with separate programmes afterwards both in the morning and later in the afternoon to cater to their specific needs.

Morning dhamma sermon was delivered by Ven Sumedha in Sinhala for the Sri Lankan group whilst the non Sri Lankan Group were guided by Dr Tony Fletcher & Mr Will Read. The children were guided by Dr Tony Fletcher and Mrs Nilmini Hewakandamby.

All groups participated jointly in the offerings and the venerations to the Buddha( Buddha Puja) which was conducted by Ven Sumedha. The offerings were taken in a procession  led by a trained Hewisi drummer followed by the children carrying Buddhist flags, flowers and ‘Gilan Pasa’.

The 3 resident monks were offered the  ‘dana’ into their  ‘begging bowls’ ( Paaththara) in the traditional  pindapatha  style ( Pindapatha Charika). All the Upasika,Upasika (‘sil’ observers) then followed behind the   3 monks in a very orderly fashion, and were offered their mid-day meal (Dana)  by the group of helpers. Large number of the devotees present partook their mid-day meal afterwards.

Prior to the commencement of the afternoon religious programme, Ven Hantane Dhammagawesi and Ven Sumedha led the  Upasika,Upasikaa to a short practice  of ‘walking meditation’ within the hall.

The afternoon session was again split into the 3 groups. Ven Dhammagawesi  selected ‘Maha Chattariesaka Sutta’ ( how to follow the path leading to Samma Samadhi) for the group discussion as a continuation of his Monthly Tripitaka Study Session which was most illuminating. The main theme for the English Group was the practice of ‘Metta’.

The religious activities were concluded by the chanting of Karaneeya Metta Sutta by the 3 resident monks for the entire gathering followed by the sharing of Merit ( Punyanumodana).

The English Group recited jointly a short version of  Damsak Pavattana Sutta  ( in Pali) to the amazement and the admiration of the rest of the gathering.  Everyone was impressed with the co-ordination and the conclusion of the Day’s proceedings with such precision, tranquillity and time managed.

Our sincere thanks must go to all the participants, ‘teachers’,  and to all those who  helped in various ways in the provision of cooked food and refreshments, offerings, decorations, transport etc. and the 3 resident monks for their guidance and active participation and Devapriya Perera for the photos.  Ven Sumedha, on behalf of the resident monks, co-ordinated the religious  programme of the day.

(prepared by Dr Sena Nanayakkara)