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Youths offer eco-friendly alms

Buddhist pilgrims given plants and urged to protect environment

Youth distributing plants for pilgrims at Buddhist festival Youth distributing plants for pilgrims at Buddhist festival
  • ucanews.com reporter, Kandy
  • Sri Lanka
  • June 17, 2011
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Youths from the Sacred Heart Church in Rattota celebrated the Poson Poya national holiday, which fell this year on June 15, by distributing plants to Buddhist pilgrims and urging them to protect the environment.

Poson Poya, celebrated on the first full moon of June, commemorates the arrival of Buddhism to Sri Lanka from the Venerable Mahinda Thero, son of Emperor Asoka of India, more than 2,000 years ago.

Buddhists celebrate the day with pilgrimages to religious sites. Traditionally, Sri Lankans offer food and drinks to the thousands of pilgrims who pass through their villages. Youth members of Sacred Heart Parish decided to try something different this year.

“Everybody serves food, but we wanted to offer plants in order to protect the environment,” said Lakpriya Nanayakkara, a member of the Catholic Youth Federation.

The youths set up a makeshift shed in front of the church near a highway on the outskirts of Matale town.

Cries of “Trees, trees” and “Plants preserve the environment” from the assembled Catholic youths resounded among the line of vehicles along the highway.

The youths from Sacred Heart prepared the offerings of vegetable, fruit and other plants from gardens at the Church, from their homes and by seeking donations from local residents, then putting them in eco-friendly containers or baskets for distribution.

“We have been preparing for this since last month. We did not use any artificial fertilizers and got a lot of help from parishioners [of Sacred Heart],” said Jude Milan.

“Using chemicals contributes to climate change. We have to make people aware of these things,” he said, adding that the Catholic Youth Federation was also planning additional events to increase environmental awareness.

He added that the plant offerings were also a way of “helping our Buddhist brothers and showing them our fellowship.” In all, about 2,000 plants were distributed.

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Catholic youths feed pilgrims
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