07th May 2017 08:53:28 Hours
Sri Lanka Army troops, competent to carry out any assignment, entrusted to them in an admirable manner are throwing their full weight behind the successful conduct of the forthcoming UN recognized island-wide Vesak commemoration, themed ‘Buddha’s Teachings for Sustainable Global Peace’ and the National Vesak festival at State and Army levels.
Security Force Headquarters - West (SFHQ-West), Adjutant General Branch, Army Headquarters and the Army Buddhist Association under the close supervision of the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Crisanthe De Silva, have undertaken to commemorate the phenomenal Thrice-Blessed Day by staging elaborate arrangements across the country with special focus on full-day Sil programmes, Vesak decoration zones, concerts of devotional songs (Bakthi Gee), free eateries (Dansel), special religious programmes, etc.
The 14th United Nations Vesak Day as well as Sri Lanka’s National Vesak festival takes place in Sri Lanka this year on a grand scale under the guidance of HE the President, Hon. Prime Minister and the Ministry of Buddhist Affairs, mustering the support from all state and private sector agencies.
State sponsored main ceremonies and international conferences have also been scheduled to coincide with this commemorative event at Kegalle, Wattarama Raja Maha Vihara premises and the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) with the participation of a record number of foreign delegates and government leaders. Of 85 countries, representatives of 73 countries have already confirmed their participation in the 14th UN Vesak Day celebration in Sri Lanka. It had been held 11 times in Thailand and twice in Vietnam before the UN offered the opportunity to Sri Lanka.
Symbolizing the initial commencement of this year’s national Vesak celebrations (May 7 - 14) in the country, Hon Minister of Buddha Sasana on Friday (5) ceremonially opens the Army-built new preaching hall (Dharmashalawa) at Wattarama Raja Maha Viharaya along Kegalle - Polgahawela road. SFHQ-West troops on the directions of Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, Commander, Security Forces - West brought the construction project to a successful completion with the blessings of the Commander of the Army.
The Army-built Rs 50 m worth new Wattarama preaching hall that could accommodate 2000 devotees, sponsored by the Ministry of Buddha Sasana is 7000 sq ft in extent, and will be a monumental gesture to mark the phenomenal. Corps of Engineer Services (CES) troops, together with the support of 8 Gemunu Watch and 8 Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment troops were behind the erection of the much-needed new preaching hall and the renovation of the ancestral ‘Pothgul’ octagon at Wattarama sacred premises on the advice of the Department of Archaeology. Troops continue to complete other preparations at this sacred temple, in which the last Arahant (perfected person) of Buddhist tradition in Sri Lanka resided centuries ago.
The state ceremony at Wattarama Raja Maha Viharaya, headed by Mahanayakes (prelates) of all three Nikayas (sectors), religious dignitaries, HE the President, Prime Minister, Ministers, Service Chiefs, foreign delegates and a large gathering of devotees takes place on Tuesday (9) on a grand scale.
On Vesak Full Moon Day (May 10), Army troops of the SFHQ-West at Panagoda Army Cantonment together with the members of the Army Buddhist Association, will hold a full-day Sil observance programme at Panagoda Sri Maha Bodhirajarama temple before the Vesak zone inside the Panagoda Army Cantonment is inaugurated at dusk, in which hundreds of Vesak lanterns and other decorations will remain on display to the public until Saturday (13).
The special Buddha Rashmi Vesak zone, surrounding the Gangarama temple in the heart of Colombo will also be adorned by Army-crafted Vesak lanterns and decorations during May 11 - 14. Army troops and members of the cultural troupe would also co-operate with the conduct of the Mal Perahera (flower procession) at Gangaramaya on Sunday (14).
Staging of the devotional song (Bethi Gee) concert by way of ballet performances, ‘Inginalu Samagin Vesak Bethi Gee’ at Nelum Pokuna theatre on Tuesday (16) will be a major spectacle, organized by the Army on account of the Vesak festival.
Choreographed by professional artistes of the Directorate of Army Band and Performing Arts on the directions of the Army Adjutant General’s office, a team of 150 performing dancers, 40 vocalists to the tune of a 40-member orchestra are expected to stage their spectacular talents during the ‘Inginalu Samagin Vesak Bethi Gee’ at Nelum Pokuna theatre in the presence of a distinguished gathering on Tuesday (16). The entire ballet-type show of the Army troops has been impressively lined up, depicting different life stages of the Buddha.
SFHQ-West troops contributing to the Bauddaloka Mawatha Vesak arrangements during May 10 - 13 at Colombo 7 will showcase their artistic talents during a separate devotional song recital and accompanying dancing features that remind Buddhists of old life stories of the Enlightened One.
Near the Vesak zone at Diyawannawa, Parliament grounds stands a huge decorative Pandal, put up by the Army, in addition to the number of other Vesak lanterns on display. A private sponsor has supported the Engineer troops of the Army to erect this Pandal. So are the decorative arrangements, being organized by the Army for Vesak zones near the Presidential Secretariat and at Valukaramaya, Kollupitiya, Lake House, Army Headquarters and Kelaniya, Bollegala International Buddhist University premises.
Army troops will meanwhile coordinate the supply of electricity to more than 300 Vesak lanterns that would be placed along the Galle Face - Fort main road during the Vesak season. Decorations that adorn the Army Headquarters would also cover the Galle Face roundabout and Kompannavidiya.
In the meantime, island-wide other Security Force Headquarters including those in the North and the East have organized their own arrangements in connection with the forthcoming event.
Security Force Headquarters - Jaffna (SFHQ-J) with the support of troops serving all Divisions, Brigades and Units in the peninsula will decorate the entire Jaffna Nagavihara premises with lanterns and bulbs, erect a special Pandal and set up a special Vesak zone near the Jaffna Weerasingham hall during May 10 - 14.
A combined team of Army singers and 20 students from Navatkuli school during two days will conduct Bethi Gee concert, showcasing the spirits of reconciliation, harmony and co-existence. All those Vesak arrangements are streamlined under the close supervision of Major General Darshana Hettiarachchi, Commander, Security Forces - Jaffna.
Vesak zones, display of Vesak lanterns and decorations, staging of Buddhist dramas, devotional song concerts and conduct of Dansel (free eateries) will meanwhile feature among Vesak arrangements, being organized by the Security Force Headquarters - East (SFHQ-E) covering Polonnaruwa town, Welikanda, Trincomalee and Batticaloa areas on the directions of the Commander, Security Forces – East, Major General Nandana Senadeera.
At Diyatalawa, Security Force Headquarters - Central (SFHQ-C) has organized a series of arrangements to mark the event. In addition to Vesak lanterns that would be displayed at Muttukumaru ground, SFHQ-C troops on the directions of Major General Upul Vithanage, Commander, Security Forces - Central will conduct Dansel during May 10 - 12 in the heart of Diyatalawa town.
Similarly, Security Force Headquarters - Kilinochchi (SFHQ-KLN) will also hold a devotional song concert inside a Vesak zone, expected to be held at Lumbini Viharaya. The area is also to be illuminated and the Governor for Northern Province attends the inauguration of the Vesak commemoration in Kilinochchi as the Chief Guest at the invitation of Major General Ajith Kariyakarawana, Commander, Security Forces - Kilinochchi. Donation of first-aid boxes to pre-schools, Bodhi pujas / sath Budu Vandana, release of 20 cows, meant for butcher, devotional songs, pandols, screening of Buddhist films, blood donation campaigns, display of Vesak lanterns, exposition of sacred relics, are among the host of meritorious activities, scheduled during the period.
Meanwhile, Security Force Headquarters - Wanni (SFHQ-W) contributing their share to the commemoration, has organized a series of features in line with the programme, launched by the District Secretariat for Vavuniya. Conduct of devotional song concerts, Dansel and display of more than 400 Vesak lanterns in and around the SFHQ-W premises and display of Buddhist flags take the centre stage in the arrangements, launched on the instructions of Major General Ruwan Kulathunga, Commander, Security Forces - Wanni.
In the meantime, Security Force Headquarters - Mullaittivu (SFHQ-MLT) joins to mark the event by producing Vesak lanterns and holding Dansel around Mullaittivu town area. A special Sil campaign will take place on Wednesday (10) inside the SFHQ-MLT premises throughout the day, following instructions given by Major General Dampath Fernando, Commander, Security Forces - Mullaittivu.