ECONOMYNEXT – Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa says that Sri Lanka’s famed hydrological civilization owes its growth to the advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka.
He also predicted that Sri Lanka would emerge shortly from the COVID 19 pandemic.
The Premier was speaking at the first-ever State Poson Festival at Mihintale held last night.
“Because of the COVID 19 threat we have had to observe Health Department guidelines, otherwise Mihintale would have looked very different to what it is now,” Rajapaksa observed.
He asked Buddhists throughout the country to stay at home and make offerings and follow practices with their family members at home.
The Prime Minister thanked the Health Workers and the Members of the Security Forces and police who are at the frontlines of the fight against COVID 19.
“We must honour these people and value their sacrifices,” he said.
“If we follow the guidelines given by the Health Officials for some time we will be able to emerge from this serious situation,” Rajapaksa predicted.
The government declared a two-day island-wide curfew preventing large numbers of people congregating in temples and other places of worship on this second holiest day for Sri Lankan Buddhists.
It is the anniversary of the conversion of the then King of Lanka, Kavantissa, by Arahant Mahinda Thero a Buddhist missionary sent to Sri Lanka by Emperor Dharmasoka the Great of India.
Poson in particular is a time when hundreds of thousands of Buddhists from across the country make a trip to Mihintale and Anuradhapura to participate in two to three days of religious observances.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by several hundred people including many members of the Caretaker Cabinet, former Members of Parliament from the Anuradhapura district, government officials and heads of Media Institutions.
The President also inaugurated the annual Mihintale Annual Aloka Pooja, where the rock from which Mahinda Thero is believed to have addressed King Kavantissa, the stupa and the temple are lit up with thousands of electric lights for a week.
It is a tradition that began in 1962 by D R Wiejwardene the former Chairman of Lake House.
This year too Lake House and the Ceylon Electricity Board sponsored the multi-million rupee event. Both are loss-making state-run institutions. (Colombo, June 5, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana