The Prime Minister also greets Indian counterpart Narendra Modi who is also celebrating his birthday today.
The 158th birthday celebration of Anagarika Dharmapala was held at the Maha Bodhi Society in Colombo on 17.09.2022 under the patronage of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.
Speaking at the event, Ven. Ambulugala Sumangala Nayaka Thera, incumbent of Agrashrawaka Dhathu Viharaya said, “Due to the current crises in the country, the number of political leaders participating in festivals is less, but our Prime Minister, regardless of his position never forgets the Mahabodhi Society, Agrashravaka Dhatuvihara, Anagarika Dharmapala and even the Maha Bodhi President, Ven Banagala Upatissa Nayaka Thera.
“So Mahabodhi is not a strange place for you. We remember that last year you remembered Dharmapala’s birthday celebration and after speaking with Mr. Yadhamini Gunawardena, you also joined that celebration,”Ve Sumangala Thera said.
Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena recalled that it was about a century and a half since the Maha Bodhi was built. “Anagarika Dharmapala is a great asset of the nation and no one born in this country can forget Anagarika Dharmapala. The Buddha’s Dhamma has become a teaching that can last for many centuries around 2600 years. Anagarika Dharmapala was the greatest guide who guided the preaching of the Sambuddha and the protection of the Sambuddha dharma and the most sacred places from Lumbini to Buddha Gaya and Saranath in India. Today we are celebrating the 158th birthday of the Father of Dhamma the unique propagator who traveled to give an understanding on Dhamma to the world.
He added that the Maha Bodhi Society was able to continue the tradition of propagation of the Buddha Dhamma to the world and currently Ven Banagala Upatissa Nayake Thera was able to carry out that guidance whether he was in Sri Lanka, India or Japan. ‘
Prime Minister Gunawardena said that when Anagarika Dharmpla began his crusade there was no freedom of worship. When we talk about freedom, we were forbidden to even gather in our temple and speak anything other than religion. At that time, Anagarika Dharmapala, who stood proudly and boldly against the suppressive regulations and argued with the British and worked to remove the ban later and won that freedom for our country. It will be 75 years for the freedom gained on February 4th next year. We recognize Anagarika Dharmapala as a special hero among the National Heroes of our freedom struggle. How can the people of a country stand up in the midst of difficulties, how can the people of the country be awakened to fulfill their responsibilities with determination, how much can we contribute to the protection of resources in our country? The Anagarika showed the way and the younger generation should think about that, he said.
Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena also said that today is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday, "and on behalf of the Sri Lankan government, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate him as well."
Secretary of the Sri Lanka Mahabodhi Society, Ven Thiniyawala Palitha Nayaka Thera, Agrasravaka Viharadhikari Ven Monaragala Pagnnalankara Thera, State Minister Vidura Wickramanayake, Assistant Secretary of the Indian High Commission officials and Buddhist devotees participated in this event.