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All night Pirith Chanting at Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN

2014 Aug 28

Text and pictures by Bernard Goonewardena reporting from New York City
Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Major General Shavendra Silva, and Varuna Sri Dhanapala, Minister – Counsellor of the Sri Lanka Mission with monks, four of whom are Chief Incumbents of Sri Lanka Temples in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, after the Pirith Chanting ceremony and Heel Dana on the following day at the Sri Lanka Embassy Auditorium and Conference Hall.

An all night Pirith Chanting ceremony was held in the auditorium of the Sri Lanka Mission to the United Nations on Friday, July 18 under the patronage of Major General Shavendra Silva, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, in the presence of a gathering of Sri Lankans from New York, New Jersey and other surrounding states.

Monks from the Sri Lankan temples of New York City, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Staten Island and Long Island in New York State participated in the Pirith Chanting. This was on a proposal made by Major General Shavendra Silva to the Sri Lanka Army and Commander, Lt.Gen. Daya Ratnayaka, to donate a Pirith Mandapaya made by soldiers of the Army to pass merits to departed soldiers, and blessings on the current serving soldiers.

The Mandapaya is a gift to all the temples to be used when Kathina and Pirith Pujas are held annually.

The Chief Monk of the New Jersey temple Ven. Hungampola Sirirathana Nayaka Thera presided at the ceremony along with Chief Monks of other temples, (Ven. Heenbunne Kondanna of Staten Island Buddhist Vihara, Ven. Aluthgama Dhammajothi, of Boston Buddhist Vihara and Ven. Kottawe Nanda of the Long Island Buddhist Vihara) and other resident monks.

It received the approval and blessings of Ven. Kurunegoda Piyatissa, Maha Nayaka Thera of the New York temple, the largest in America, who was not able to participate due to poor health.

While the temples had smaller mandapayas in the past shared by all the temples in the region, this is the largest and most elaborately constructed structure with carvings, made with separate parts.

Even the assembling of the separate parts by staff of the Sri Lanka Mission was a huge task accomplished with expertise and finesse. Credit should go to the employees of the Mission to the United Nations for making this event a great success.

Major General Shavendra Silva funded the expenses of bringing the parts in large crates by ship, and has personally paid all the expenses connected with the holding of the Pirith ceremony followed by Heel Dana to the monks.

Among the gathering was Gloria Starr Kins, Editor in Chief of Society and Diplomatic Review in New York City, who is intimately aware of matters concerning Sri Lanka.

This is the first time that an All Night Pirith ceremony was held at the Sri Lanka Mission to the United Nations since Sri Lanka’s admission as a member of the United Nations in 1955.

The monks invoked merits on the soldiers who sacrificed their lives, and blessings on the soldiers in their mission of preserving the peace, harmony and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, as well as to invoke merits and blessings on victims of natural and other disasters in Sri Lanka and the world today.
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