VEN.HAMMALAWA SADDHATISSA NAYAKA THERO’S 100th BIRTH ANNIVERSARY AND SRI SADDHATISSA INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST CE NTRE’S 25th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
The SSIBC arranged a celebration to mark the 100th Birth Anniversary of the Ven (Dr) Hammalawa Saddhatissa Nayaka Thero and the 25 Anniversary of the Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre established in honour of the Nayaka Thero. It was held in the Tylers Hall, at the Kingsbury High School in Kingsbury, London NW9 from 2.00 PM to 8.00PM on Sunday 20 December 2015. The devotees decorated the approach to the premises and the premises itself with Buddhist Flags. The stage was made to look a scene from a Sri Lankan ancient city, with a Sandakadapahana and Guard Stones and Punkalas and Buddha Statues and a parapet wall reminding us of the entrance to the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. For the inauguration ceremony, ,the VIPP lit the candles placed on the ramparts. The stage decorations were the work of master craftsman Jayaratna Bandara and his team.
The proceedings began with the Ven. Murungasyaye Gnaniswara Nayaka Thero, the Sangha Nayaka Thero of Paris, administering the five precepts. It was followed by the lamp lighting ceremony by the representatives of the Clergy and invited VIPP. Thereafter a Puja Dance was staged.
Aggamahapandita Ven. Galayaye Piyadass Sangha Nayaka Thero made a very emotional welcome address, in Sinhala, and then in English. A 30 minute documentary on Ven.Dr Hammalawa Saddhatissa Nayaka Thero and the 25 year history of the SSIBC produced by Mr Tissa Madawela was screened and it was well received. HE Sugeeswara Gunaratna, The Acting. High Commissioner of Sri Lanka then made a short address on the significance of the occasion. Thereafter Ven. Galayaye Piyadassi Thero made a presentation of the two books of the Nayaka Thero reprinted for the occasion – ‘THE BUDDHA’S WAY’ and ‘AN INTRODUCTION TO BUDDHISM’ and the SPECIAL SOUVENIR, to the Actg. High Commissioner. These were also presented to the VIPP present.
The keynote address was delivered by Professor Kate Crosby,Professor of Buddhist Studies at Kings College London. The topic of the address was her study of Ven. Hammalawa Saddhatissa Nayaka Thero’s translation of important Buddhist Suttas. She had also studied in the Department of Linguistics at the Kelaniya University in Sri Lanka from 1992 to 1994. Her interest in these Sutta translations arose when she was at Oxford University when Ven. (Dr) Hammalawa Saddhatissa was a visiting lecturer at Oxford University in 1973.She had also studied at the Department of Linguistics, Kelaniya University in Sri Lanka from 1992 to 1994 and was a fluent Sinhala speaker and was the appropriate speaker for the occasion.
Besides Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala, Nayaka Thero of the London Buddhist Vihare, Ven. Witharandeniye Kassapapa Nayaka Thero of Birmingham Maha Vihare, Ven. Mangala Nayaka Thero of The East London Lumbini Buddhist Vihare , and Reverend Natasha Woodward of the Church of Holy Innocent in Kingsbury’s presence, several other Buddhist Temples were represented. Ven. Wellawatte Gnanasiri Thero, Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero and Ven. Bodhiseeha Thero also came to participate in the event. Besides the Actg. High Commimissioner, Mr Nimal Karunatileke, Trade Commissioner, Mr Niranjan Pathiratne, Minister Administration and Mr Mano Warnapala, Counsellor and other High Commission staff participated. The worshipful Mayor of Brent, Councillor Lesley Jones, MBE ; The Member of Parliament for Hendon, Hon Matthew Offord and Mrs Claire Offord; The Representative Deputy Lieutenant for Brent, Hon. Mei Sim Lai; Councillor Kana Naheerathan, former Mayor of Brent; Councillor Kareema Marikar of Harrow; Mr Nizam Ismail former Mayor of Harrow; Mr Ruwan Kumara, Chief Operating Officer, Bank of Ceylon (UK) Limited; Dr Elizabeth Harris; Mr Victor Cherubin, FICS also participated.
A Buddhist Cultural Pageant for one hour was staged. The Children of the Dhamma School and devotees who participate were trained by Professor Mudiyanse Dissanayake and Mr and Mrs A.P. Attanayake. The Sri Lanka Educational, Cultural and Welfare Foundation’s, Dance Troupe also performed.
The BBC’S Eastern Service carried a special interview in Sinhala with Ven. Galayaye Piyadassi Sangha Nayaka Thero and Ven. Handu Pelpola Mahinda Nayaka Thero that evening. Special Messages were received from the Venerable Maha Nayaka Theros of Asgiriya and Malwatta, the President, Prime Minister, Speaker, the Minister for Buddhasasana of Sri Lanka which were included in the Souvenir.
Aggamahapandita Galayaye Piyadassi Sangha Nayaka Thero arranged a fitting tribute to his Mentor.