UCA News
Contribute

Sri Lankan monks seek alms to celebrate Poson Poya

Despite economic woes, Buddhist leaving no stone unturned to mark the arrival of Buddhism in the island nation
A display featuring a seated Buddha during the Poson Poya festival in Colombo on June 7, 2020. Poson Poya is an annual Buddhist festival marking the introduction of the religion to Sri Lanka

A display featuring a seated Buddha during the Poson Poya festival in Colombo on June 7, 2020. Poson Poya is an annual Buddhist festival marking the introduction of the religion to Sri Lanka. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 30, 2023 11:10 AM GMT
Updated: May 30, 2023 11:49 AM GMT

Buddhist monks have turned down the Sri Lankan government's offer for financial support and instead are seeking public donations to fund an annual festival celebrating the arrival of Buddhism centuries ago in the island nation in the Indian Ocean.

Ven. Dr. Walawahengunaweve Dhammarathana Thera, the chief incumbent of the Mihintale Rajamaha Viharaya, a historic landmark in the Buddhist-majority nation in South Asia, said that the amount of 3.1 million Sri Lankan rupees (US$10,437.72 ) given by the government to celebrate Poson Poya festival is not enough. 

We don't need government funds “to illuminate the sacred shrine and treat the pilgrims” as the nation is passing through a severe foreign exchange crisis, he said.

"More than 5 million rupees have already been received from people to hold this year's Poson Festival. Monks will conduct the event to the maximum extent possible," the Buddhist monk said on May 29.

“The total budget for the event is 22.5 million, the remaining amount of 17.5 million will somehow be found," added Ven. Dhammarathana Thera.

The monks continue to walk through the streets collecting the required funds, which would be spent on making available basic facilities like drinking water, food stalls, mobile toilets, car parks, etc., for the two million people expected at Mihintale in Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka.

More than 70 percent of the country’s 22 million people follow Buddhism.

The Poson Festival takes place on the full moon day of Poson, the seventh month in the Sinhalese calendar, which usually falls in June in the Western calendar. This year Poson Poya will be celebrated on June 3. The festival is second only in importance to Vesak.

Ven. Dhammarathana Thera, who is actively involved in the nationwide fund mobilization drive, said that the whole world was shocked when monks took up bowls to beg for money to hold the important Buddhist festival.

The monk alleged that the government set aside more money for other national events like the New Year festival in April and the Vesak festival which commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and passing of Buddha, who founded the contemplative religion of Buddhism in India.

"Both the minister of Buddhist affairs and the minister of electricity should be ashamed of not being able to provide proper state support. The government authorities are collecting 6 million Sri Lankan rupees as electricity charges from the people,” the Buddhist monk said. 

Though the import-reliant nation is passing through a severe economic crisis, Buddhists are planning to celebrate the annual event with pomp and glory with street decorations, almsgiving, processions, and other rituals.

“Now, the event cannot be postponed nor can the crowd be stopped," said Ven. Dhammarathana Thera.

Poson Festival is noteworthy to Buddhists as Emperor Asoka, the ruling monarch of India, sent his son, Arahant Mahinda Thera, and a delegation to introduce Buddhism in Sri Lanka in the third century B.C.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
comment

Share your comments

1 Comments on this Story
VADC
These crooked monks are eating our flesh and drinking our blood
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia