The Dangers of Multi –culturalising and downsizing Vesak – the pre-eminent Buddhist Festival in Sri Lanka
Posted on April 9th, 2017

Senaka Weeraratna   

Throughout Sri Lanka’s Buddhist History lasting for over 2300 years Vesak has been an exclusive Buddhist Festival with only Buddhist symbols and decorations been displayed to mark the most important occasion in the Buddhist calendar. Even at worst of times during colonial rule under three Christian powers, this festive day for Buddhists was never adulterated with symbols of other religions.

However this year ( 2017) this long established tradition of Vesak being an exclusive Buddhist festival appears to be under threat if we are to take cue from an Advertisement placed in the ‘Sunday Times’ newspaper which has been running for 4 weekends. The focus of the advertisement is on celebration of Vesak but the margin of the advertisement at both the top and bottom ends is lined with the symbols of four religions namely Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.

The rationale for inserting non – Buddhist religious symbols in respect to celebration of Vesak, in a  newspaper advertisement is inexplicable except in terms of Multi –culturalising and downsizing Vesak as an exclusive Buddhist Festival. It is not a secret that the space for Buddhists and Buddhism is getting diminished in a land that once took pride as the centre of Buddhism and was accordingly given that recognition throughout the world.

Buddhism and Buddhist values were the pride of the Sinhale nation for over two millennia. Nothing that this country stood for brought international attention both from near and far than the nation’s commitment to safeguard and foster Buddhism. Buddhist values were the term of reference in national policy making by Sinhalese Kings. Even the Nayakkar (Tamil) Kings of the Kandyan Kingdom respected Buddhist values and never diluted them with ideas alien to Buddhism. Now all what this ancient nation stood for is under grave threat from a Government that is bound by Article 9 of the Constitution to give foremost place to Buddhism and accordingly to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana.

We are indeed living in strange times. An advertisement placed in the national newspapers on February 4, 2017 called on people to engage in shared values between religions. This would appear to be nothing but a shameless exercise to bury Buddhist values within a seemingly innocent move to harmonise values that are in-congruent.

The First Precept is very clear on the ethical conduct required of Buddhists. The principle ‘ Kill and Eat’ which is at the core of Abrahamic religions is anathema to Buddhist followers, by and large.

Is the ‘ Shared Values’ policy meant to encourage Buddhists to ‘kill and eat’ and accordingly violate the First Precept?

The current advertisement in Today’s Sunday Times 2  (April 9, 2017) page 10, attempts to dissuade the Buddhist public from having Dansals to feed the poor, engaging in celebration of Vesak in a special fitting manner being a once a year occasion and projecting Sri Lanka as a pre- dominant Buddhist country.

While austerity is being advocated for Buddhists in celebration of Vesak, no such caution was sounded when Christmas was celebrated under Government patronage last December. An exorbitant amount was spent in decorating Colombo streets and public squares with fancy lighting and bulbs to show case Christianity including the erection of a fake Christmas Tree on Galle Face Green, despite protests from the vast majority of Lanka’s citizenry.

There must be a limit to appeasement. It should never be done at the expense of Buddhism or downsizing the celebration of Buddhist festivals. It would indeed be tragic if the forthcoming UN Day of Vesak 2017 Conference due to be held in Colombo (May 12 – 14, 2017) were to be used for promoting an inter – faith and multi-cultural agenda whose ultimate hidden goal is nothing but to drive out Buddhism from public life in the country.

Senaka Weeraratna



6 Responses to “The Dangers of Multi –culturalising and downsizing Vesak – the pre-eminent Buddhist Festival in Sri Lanka”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    Gangaramaya Podi Hamuduruwo in his old age, must be going senile to have this multicultural, multi religious pamphlet. Would the Christians or the Muslims do this type of thing in their publications ever?

    Multi Religious camel is well and truely inside the Buddhist Tent? Buddhists need to exercise their individuality in this time of open attack on everything that is Buddhist. Polluting the Vesak festival is the last stroke! I can see the hand of Rosie Senanayake in these measures – she is intent on denying the place of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and in destroying thorough whatever means, the Buddhist Establishment in Sri Lanka.

    However I agree with most of the measures that are there -especially helping the poor and engaging in ‘Valid Dana’ practices.

    We humbly request Podi Hamuduruwo – not to fall into the Evangelical and Jihadi traps!

  2. ranjit Says:

    Podi hamuduruwo or who ever he is he is just a stooge of Ran-nil and the foreign NGO’O’s. These types of people will dance to any tune These traitors play. Sinhalaya and our Most revered religion Buddhism has been threatened by our enemies within and outside very shrewdly and cunningly. We cannot just wait watching blindly we need to act fast. Peace loving Sinhala Buddhists must get united along with Maha Sanga and stop this treacherous acts by this evil government. We must punish those who try to divide and destroy our motherland. Do not fear none. This is my land SINHALA land not belongs to anybody other than Sinhalese people. Safeguard our religion Buddhism and our culture
    Join together to save Sri Lanka.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    Prof Nalin de Silva recently said in a YouTube video that the GREATEST ENEMIES of the Sinhala Buddihists are those mis-“educated” Sinhala Buddhists who fail to stand up straight and declare Sri Lanka as a Buddhist nation with a Sinhala-Buddhist culture without hemming and hawing, and bending over backwards kow-towing down to “multi-culturalism”.

    Very few countries in the world are truly Multi-Cultural ….. not even the United States. The election of Donald Trump and Brexit are testimony to that. More and more nations around the world are moving away from this INSANE and INTERNALLY INCONSISTENT concept of Nation-States created on the basis of one dominant culture.

    Our learned ELITE are so anxious to be labelled “learned”, and receive awards and plaudits from the West that even as we speak is moving away from Multi-Culturalism having recognized the inherent threat it poses to their countries and ways-of-life, they are throwing the Sinhala Buddhist baby out with the bath water!

    PARA-GATHI pundits to the very last!

  4. Charles Says:

    Times of Ceylon and Daily Mirror are Catholic papers. They try to promote other religions to down grade Buddhism. The fault is with the Buddhists. W the Buddhists have failed to speak in one voice. We are divided politically. The Mahanayakes of the Siam Nikaya are UNP sympathisers and they think it is by promoting UNP that they can protect Buddhism. There had never been a genuine attempt to bring the three Nikayas together. Hence, as the saying goes divided we will fall.

    There is no reason why the Buddhists have to join hands with other religions. We have differences we cannot surmount, and we cannot accept and acclaim those religions which are against the Buddhist Concepts.

    Buddha was born in a country which had 62 different philosophies. The Buddha after enlightenment rejected those religions with a belief in a creator God and admonished the impossibility to wash off one’s sins by bathing in rivers..

    Christianity is a new religion as the Biblical religion was meant for the Israelites and no one else. Therefore the European people other than Israelites had to fall on the New Testament which gave the God a son to save their skins. This God the Christians as well as Israelites and the Islamists believe in had not been seen by any one.

    The God had said that no one can see him and live. He only appears to the prophets in visions where they only hear his voice. Hence their belief system is not in the belief in God but in the belief in Prophets who says they have heard the God..! Let them have their belief system and let us keep our Buddhism separated from their beliefs.

    Buddhism is unique and one day the world may realise the truth of the teachings of the Buddha. Buddhism does not belong to Sri Lanka only but to the whole world. Therefore as the pure teachings of the Buddha is in Sri Lanka Buddhism has to protected by Sri Lanka.

    Hence the Constitution of Sri Lanka would be imperfect if it does not protect Buddhism. That is more the reason why this Yahapalanaya Government which has no respect to Buddhism should not be allowed to write a new Constitution to Sri Lanka.

    Only way to spread Christianity was either by use of force, tempting with offers of food, cloth or positions. It is the same as Islamism which is worse. It told its believers to to kill and destroy all those who do not believe and also their descendents.

    No one had seen God. Christianity depends on belief. The seventy two prophets in the Bible, beginning with Mosses had not seen the God. When Mosses asked God to show himself to him, the God said no, as he cannot see God and live. When Mosses asked god to show hiself to the Israelites , the God came in the form of a column of smoke.

    The God only appeared to prophets not in a vision but only to whisper prophecies. Therefore you had to first believe in the prophets to believe the existence of a God, But the prophets too had only heard his whispers.

    Hence the inquisition. The New Testament was written after the Bible, to make Christianity more human , giving God a son who came to take onto himself the sins of the people.

  5. samurai Says:


    The forth coming UN Day of Vesak 2017 Conference will not discuss the problems and challenges facing threatened Buddhists in many parts of the world.
    Instead it will play safe and not extend one ounce of assistance to embattled Buddhists in Myanmar, South Thailand, Bangladesh, Ladakh, South Korea and even Sri Lanka, struggling to keep the faith alive in the face of overwhelming odds and challenges from other religions.
    To occupy oneself with unimportant matters and neglect priorities during a crisis, is described in a pithy way in the English language in the following expression ‘ Nero fiddled while Rome burned’’
    Sri Lanka will host the United Nations Vesak Day with the theme of Social Justice and Sustainable World Peace through the teachings of the Buddha. This is nothing new. While we all know that the Buddha’s teachings are as important today as when they were first preached 2600 years ago in Bharat (now called India), it will not help in obtaining for Buddhists in Myanmar, South Thailand, Ladakh, Bangladesh, etc . much needed assistance from the outside world unless representatives from these besieged Buddhist communities are given a hearing at premier international Buddhist conferences. By treating them e.g. Burmese monk Wirathu, like an untouchable or leper, rather than closing ranks with fellow embattled Buddhists, the Buddhist world is doing itself a great disservice.
    In time to come Buddhist leaders will not come forward or emerge from the ranks and the remaining Buddhist nations will join the list of one time Buddhist countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and South Korea ( whose Buddhist population has plummeted from 90% to 22% in the last 65 years) within the next 50 – 100 years.
    Given what has happened in the past to Buddhism which is fast losing both numbers and space under heavy pressure from the world evangelical and Jihadist movements, one would have thought that ‘ Protection and Preservation of Buddhism’ would have been high on the list of the Agenda of any serious International Buddhist Conference. Unfortunately it is not so.
    By allowing the UN to manipulate the agenda, the Buddhists are allowing themselves to fall into a trap. The UN is a Christian controlled colonial relic. Out of 9 Secretary – Generals of the UN, since its inception, all bar one has been Christian. Ban Ky Moon the last holder of this high office was a mediocre Korean Christian. His main qualification for the job was that he was an Asian and a Christian, who would go all the way with the leading western Christian countries in implementing sinister agendas against non – Christian countries.
    Long before terms like ‘ Multi – Culturalism’ , Pluralism, Secularism, were coined Buddhist countries maintained good racial and religious harmony among people. It was the entry of the Portuguese and their Inquisitorial methods in governance and administration of justice, that destroyed the peace in their colonies. We are still suffering from the effects of colonial rule which pitted one community against the other. The problems in Sri Lanka began not in 1948 but in 1505 with the arrival of the Portuguese.
    Today the world lacks strong Buddhist leaders of the caliber of Angarika Dharmapala, Dr. Gunapala Malalasekera, L.H. Mettananda. What we have instead are political charlatans who have jumped from one political party to another and crept into high office without a proper track record of service to Buddhism. Their antecedents are weak. They engage in grandstanding to collect points to enhance their political careers. They are basically corrupt. They have been warned in Courts of law. Buddhist monks should show greater vision and foresight and not uncaringly support the strategies of the enemies of Buddhism. Multi – Culturalism is one such devious strategy. Its goal is to marginalize Buddhism and its influence in Public life.
    The signs are that nothing productive will come out of this UN Day of Vesak 2017 Conference except a high sounding but weak Declaration of no consequence. A League of Buddhist Nations awaits formation to be active in areas where the World Fellowship of Buddhists is inactive. Who will take the initiative? A global Religious community that cannot effectively protect its most important sites like the Maha Bodhi Temple in Buddha Gaya and Lumbini ( Birth place of Prince Siddhartha) in Nepal, from the effects of Noise Pollution emanating from Loudspeakers broadcasting Azan based in recently established Mosques, speaks volumes of the poor quality of leadership of international Buddhist Organisations and the indifference of the leaders of the pre-dominant Buddhist countries, in safeguarding premier Buddhist sites of historical importance.

  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    The language I used above when explaining the basis of Nation-States was rather confusing. Let me explain it more clearly.

    Nation-States have been created around the world by people who belong to a single dominant culture to preserve their unique cultural identity.

    Therefore, it is INSANE & INTERNALLY INCONSISTENT for such States to adopt Multiculturalism for that would ultimately destroy the very culture that motivated the creation of that Nation-State.

    Therefore, it is DESTRUCTIVE for Sri Lanka to adopt Multiculturalism as it’s basis; ultimately it will destroy the Sinhala Buddhist culture that created the Natio- State if Sri Lanka many thousands of years ago.

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