Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Series of programmes to commemorate 260th anniversary of Siam Nikaya

Series of programmes to commemorate 260th anniversary of Siam Nikaya

Essay competition on Upali Maha Thero


Thai Ambassador in Sri Lanka  Poldej Worachat

By Hariscandra Gunaratna

The Royal Thai Embassy in Sri Lanka has organised a series of events to commemorate the 260th anniversary of the arrival of Upali Maha Thero in Sri Lanka and the re-establishment of the Upasampada and Siam Nikaya (sect) in the country which falls in July in 2013.

One of the events in the calendar is the English essay competition organised in collaboration with the Sri Lanka-Thailand Society on the topic ‘Contribution of Ven Upali Maha Thero of Ayuthaya in the revival of Budhism in Sri Lanka’ which will be in two categories – 10 to 18 years (1000-1500 words ) and 19 years and above (2000-2500 words).

Abronze statue of Ven Upali Maha Thero

Citizens of Sri Lanka who have attained the age of 10 years on the closing date, June 30, 2012 are eligible and only one essay will be allowed per participant.

Details could be obtained from the Royal Thai Embassy, Green Lanka Tower, 46/46 Nawam Mawatha, Colombo-02.

The first three winners in the 10-18 years category will be awarded cash prizes of Rs 20,000, Rs10,000 and Rs 5,000 each and certificates while the winners in the latter category will receive cash prizes of Rs 30,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 7,500.

Thai Ambassodor in Sri Lanka Poldej Worachat told the media that Buddhism in Sri Lanka was in a state of decline, and to restore it to its former pristine glory the then King of the country Keerthi Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe requested assistance from king Brommakot of Ayutthaya and a group of monks led by Upali Maha thero of Dhammaram temple in Ayutthaya was sent to re-establish the Buddhist order in Sri Lanka.

"If one calls India the father of Buddhism, then Sri Lanka is the mother and today there are a very few Buddhists in India and the only countries which have fostered Theravada Buddhism right throughout Asia are Sri Lanka,Thailand and Myanmar," the Ambassador pointed out.

The monks sailed from the Southern part of Thailand and reached the port of Trincomalee in 1753 and travelled to Kandy, he said.

The two earlier attempts by the Thai monks to reach Sri Lanka failed as the boats they sailed in sank due to inclement weather, the Ambassador said.

Upon arrival here, Upali Maha Thero ordained over 3,000 Sinhalese men and the first was Scholar monk Ven Weliwita Saranankara. This resulted in the widespread study of Buddhism in the country and re-establishment of the Siam Nikaya in Sri Lanka, he said.

Upali Maha Thero passed away in Kandy after rendering yeoman service to the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, he said.

Buddhism has shown the path to inner peace and Buddhist way of life would help peaceful co-existence in the world, he added.

Mrs Nirmalee Gunatilleke, President of the Sri Lanka-Thailand Society said that she is confident that a large number of entries would be received for the essay competition. She assured the fullest cooperation of the Sri Lanka-Thailand Society to make the commemoration a great success and added that it was an honour to be associated with the event.

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