Updated: November 01, 2021 10:38 AM GMT
Sri Lankan Buddhist devotees queue to offer prayers during a religious festival to mark the full moon in Colombo in July. The nation is mourning Ven. Welamitiyawe Kusaladhamma Thera. (Photo: AFP)
Sri Lankans, including Catholics, are mourning the death of a prominent Buddhist monk who dedicated his life to Buddhism and education in the country.
Chief Prelate Ven. Welamitiyawe Kusaladhamma Thera died at the age of 84 while undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Colombo. The final rite was held at Independence Square under state patronage on Oct. 31, which was declared a day of nationwide mourning.
Ven. Kusaladhamma Thera was chancellor of the University of Kelaniya, chief judicial prelate of Colombo and Chilaw Division and chief incumbent of the Peliyagoda Vidyalankara Pirivena.
He also served as head of the Vidyalankara Pirivena and was considered to be a monk who made a great contribution to the betterment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, working to spread Pirivena education.
Ven. Kusaladhamma Thera was also one of the trustees of the Catholic-run Center for Education of Hearing Impaired Children (CEHIC) for years in the Archdiocese of Colombo.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said it was a great loss to the country and its people and extended condolences to all Sri Lankans, especially Buddhist brothers and sisters.
Everyone loved him as a loving father. He had the quality of helping the needy. He sought out and helped people with various disabilities and did a lot of charity work for the poor
“I had known Most Ven. Kusaladhamma Thera for over two decades and he dedicated himself to the service of the country and its people,” he said in a statement.
He recalled meeting the monk on numerous occasions at social engagements. “I greatly appreciate his humble and friendly nature and openness,” Cardinal Ranjith said.
Ven. Kusaladhamma Thera was born on Feb. 20, 1937, in the village of Welamitiyawa in Kurunegala district. He was the third of the family with seven children and named Tikiri Banda, and was destined to enter the Buddhist order of Sangha.
Ven. Dr. Walpola Piyananda Thera said that the monk always spoke with a smile to everyone regardless of their age or gender.
Surani Rupasinghe, a graduate student from the University of Kelaniya, said the monk was a true teacher. “Every time we met him, he encouraged us to serve vulnerable people in the country,” she said.
Rupasinghe said the monk had a special talent for preaching. Sometimes he preached continuously for two or three hours. He committed to uplifting Sunday school education in the country.
“Everyone loved him as a loving father. He had the quality of helping the needy. He sought out and helped people with various disabilities and did a lot of charity work for the poor,” she said.
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