Vesak celebrations in Canberra
May 1, 2018
Vesak was celebrated at the Sri Lanka High Commission in Canberra on Sunday 29th April with the participation of Sri Lankan community and Australian officials. The celebrations commenced with the invoking of blessings and chanting of pirith by the resident Venerable Theros of the Sri Lanka Buddhist VIhara in Canberra, followed by a short Anusasana and Buddha Pooja.
The High Commission staff presented Bhakthi Gee while High Commissioner S. Skandakumar joined in to sing the final song “Pōya Sandē Sanda Kiranin” whose theme was for a world that exists in righteousness and peace. Live music was provided by the Canberra based ‘Nada Roo’ Music Group.
Addressing the gathering High Commissioner Skandakumar said the teachings of the Buddha, notably on tolerance, compassion and equanimity were important lessons for our day to day lives. It was for that reason that Vesak is celebrated universally no matter what one’s religious faith might be. He referred to the manner in which Rev Walpola Rahula was supported in 1930 in his early education by a Jaffna born Tamil, Saravanamuttu Thangarajah, a school teacher at St Thomas’ College, who unhesitatingly opened his home in Udahamulla to the Reverand and supported him during his education. The relationship was so close that when his benefactor passed away the Venerable Reverand could not stop the flow of tears.
The High Commissioner also reflected on India’s Independence in 1947 that saw large scale loss of life and displacement and pointed out that six months later Ceylon -as Sri Lanka was then called – was granted her Independence in a peaceful and dignified manner that was envied by all.
“That Independence was achieved not by aggression but through the Intellect of our eminent fellow citizens represented by Sinhalese, Tamils, Burghers, Muslims and Malays. and showcased what we were capable of when we came together, respected and supported each other,” he said. The High Commissioner added “in the nineties when a devout Sinhala Buddhist embraced a conservative Tamil Hindu it had a magical effect on our Nation’s cricket. I refer to Arjuna Ranatunge and Muthiah Muralitharan”.
Continuing further he recalled how the whole Nation came together to raise funds to purchase a Pet Scan machine for the Maharagama Cancer Institute, that helps to diagnose life threatening illnesses in their early stages. He recalled how it was commissioned in the presence of the Minister of Health by a young boy who was terminally ill; cancer did not ask that little boy what his ethnicity was before it affected him, reminding us all of how vulnerable each of us are. Yet what that boy has is the love and prayers of all Sri Lankans in his battle. The High Commissioner noted that Lord Buddha stressed the impermanence of life; and it is inevitable that one day God will call time on each of our lives. When that occurs the only asset we will take with us is our conscience. He noted that “real happiness comes from being at peace with that conscience because no human being can ever hope to build his happiness on a fellow being’s unhappiness”; and in conclusion the High Commissioner wished everyone “peace for your conscience.”
The High Commission premises were adorned with Buddhist flags and colourful Vesak lanterns made by the staff.