President to open Cambodia Buddhist Centre
Posted on March 8th, 2019

Janaka Perera

President Maithripala Sirisena will be the Chief Guest at the ceremonial opening of the Buddha Shrine of the International Cambodian Buddhist Centre Kaduwela on Saturday March 9.

The distinguished Cambodian guest will be Her Eminence Mahopasika Sok Im.

The event will be Co-Chaired by the Most Venerable Napana Pemasiri Mahanayaka Thera, Chief Sangha Patron of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya and the Most Venerable Am Lim Heng Maha Nayaka Thera, Deputy Sangharaja of Cambodia

To mark this event an alms giving will held for five thousand monks.

The Buddhist Centre, a symbol of Sri Lanka-Cambodia Buddha Sasana relationship, provides residential facilities for Cambodian Buddhist monks, in a Cambodian and Sri Lankan environment, pursuing their primary, secondary and tertiary education in Sri Lanka. It can comfortably accommodate 100 Cambodian monks at a time. The first two storey sanghawasa of the centre was opened on November 25, 2013 by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

This institute and residing monks provide a service for the ‘David Rodrigo’ Child Development Center which is operated at this temple premises.

The Centre was constructed under the patronage of the Venerable Dr. Omalpe Sobhitha Nayaka Thera, Chief Sangahanayake of the Southern Province who is also the President of the Sri Bodhiraja Foundation and Founder of the Bodhiraja Buddhist Society of Singapore and Malaysia.  The construction was made possible with the generous contributions from the late Mrs. Indrawathie Rodrigo (who donated the large property) and Khmer devotees from Cambodia and other countries. Their contributions were facilitated by the Ven. Dhammavipassana Mun Say and other Cambodian monks.

The centre has been specially designed to enhance the Sri Lankan – Cambodian historical relationship. Its architecture displays the depth of Cambodian arts and crafts and Buddhist traditions nurtured by genuine Buddhist life-styles. This center attracts the world-wide Khmer community for its beauty and opportunity to experience Cambodian Culture in Sri Lanka.

Before the Cambodian Buddhist Centre was constructed Dr. Hema Goonatilake was conducting the only program in Sri Lanka for educating young Cambodian monks. She was the pioneer in introducing Ven. Dr. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera’s services to Cambodia, where he was working in the Cambodian Capital of Phnom Penh in 1998 on the invitation of the UNDP (United Nations Development Program).

It was then that he realized the extent of the extent of the decline of Cambodia’s moral and social values, resulting from the mass murderer Pol Pot’s monstrous Khmer Rouge’s rule (1975-1979) – one of the darkest chapters of human history – in a mad, violent attempt to build an ‘exemplary communist society’.

(Khmer Rouge means Red Khmer in French)

During the Khmer Rouge’s four-year reign of terror, they had turned the entire Cambodian society upside down. The biggest damage was done to the Buddhist social, moral and cultural values.

Temples, monasteries and Dhamma halls were used as poultry and pig farms where animal slaughter occurred daily.  Buddha statutes which until then were objects of veneration were used as objects of target practice for training youth in the use of firearms. Monks who disobeyed the Khmer Rouge’s orders were killed in their thousands.  Hundreds and thousands of other Bhikkhus disrobed unable to bear the humiliation and harassment any longer.

It was this deep realization that prompted the Ven. Sobhitha Thera to undertake this project of training young Cambodian monks (samaneras) in Sri Lanka for the revival of Buddhism in Cambodia.

Now it has borne fruit

The International Cambodian Buddhist Centre, Kaduwela.

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