Sri Lankan Buddhist monks have cremated damaged and broken Buddhist statues that had been abandoned in temples. The sacred statues were cremated at Bodhiraja temple in Embilipitiya, 212 kilometers southeast of capital Colombo, on Vesak Day. Devotees often leave broken statues in temple grounds and under sacred Bo trees without destroying them on their own sites. Lord Buddha attained enlightenment under a Bo tree and the tree plays an important role in the cultural and spiritual life of Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera said leaving statues of Lord Buddha at various places in temples and under trees does great harm to his followers.
"These abandoned statues have been given due respect and cremated. In this way, by honoring and cremating them, something good happened. This is the first time we have done something like this. Everything should have an honorable ending," said Ven. Sobitha Thera. Buddha statues that had been damaged in houses and temples were recently collected after being left in places that were insulting to Lord Buddha. The statues were first garlanded with flowers and about 30 Buddhist monks participated in the ceremony. Hundreds of statues were cremated using sandalwood, an expensive wood famed for its distinct fragrance. The event took place on Vesak Day on May 8. The Vesak festival, coinciding with the full moon each May, commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Lord Buddha. Due to the nationwide lockdown to stem the Covid-19 outbreak, Buddhist devotees performed rituals in their homes to celebrate the Vesak Poya on May 7-8. Chief monks have urged avoiding public gatherings including Vesak zones, dansal (alms-giving stalls) and pandals during Vesak. Neela Ranjani, a Buddhist mother from Meerigama, said she has seen many broken Buddhist statues left under Bo trees by the side of roads. "I have also made the same mistake several times and it is common sight under Bo trees," said Ranjani. Ranjani appreciated the work of Buddhist monks who cremated the abandoned statues Anton Saparamadhu, a Catholic teacher from Ja-ela, said Catholics also leave damaged statues of saints in church premises and under large statues in public places. "Evangelical Christians destroy statues of saints. When some Catholics join evangelical churches, they destroy the statues of saints in their homes," he said. "The Church encourages imitating saints as role models and Catholics honor and admire saints. In the recent past, many statues of saints that had been damaged were left under life-size statues of saints." Of Sri Lanka's 21 million people, 70 percent are Buddhist, 15 percent Hindu, 9 percent Muslim and 7 percent Christian.
Support UCA News...
UCA News provides a unique service, bringing you the voices of emerging churches and helping you see efforts made to evangelize and bring relief to people in all manner of need.
UCA News has more than 40 full time and part time reporters, editors and administrators bringing you this service from across 23 countries in south, southeast and east Asia. You, too, can be part of their efforts by contributing even a small amount to keep UCA News available to the world.
Click here to consider the options available to you.
Your contribution to UCA News will immensely help us continue to grow a strong media community by harnessing information technology to inform, engage, inspire and influence the Catholics of Asia and the world.
As a gesture of our gratitude to your commitment to UCA News, we are pleased to gift you a free PDF Book/e-Book titled Mission in Asia when you make a contribution.