Arahat Sanghamitta Theraniís arrival to Sri Lanka commemorates at London Buddhist Vihara
By Janaka Alahapperuma
Dec 11, 2009
Sanghamitta Day Celebrations were held at London Buddhist Vihara, Dharmapala Building, The Avenue, Chiswick, London W4 on Sunday 6th December 2009 from 9.00am to 7.00pm to commemorate the Arahat Sanghamitta Theraniís arrival to Sri Lanka in 245 B.C.

Bhikkuni Sanghamitta, who established the Bhikkuni Order in Sri Lanka has a very special recognition in Sri Lankan history and she has been highly respected for more than 2300 years in the island. Therefore, this festival is very unique to Sri Lanka as it commemorates the arrival of Bhikkuni Sanghamitta, daughter of one of the greatest sons of India, Emperor Asoka. Her arrival is also of significance to Buddhists all over the world as Bhikkuni Sanghamitta brought a sapling of the Bodhi Tree from Buddha Gaya, where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment after meditating for forty days under this holy Bodhi tree.

When Arahat Sanghamitta Therani arrived from Dambakola Patuna, North port of Jaffna peninsula in Sri Lanka, King Devanam Piyatissa (250 - 210 B.C) honored their arrival by wading into the water up to his neck in greeting. The holy tree cutting that she brought, a living link to the enlightenment of the Lord Buddha, was taken with great pomp to the heart of the capital city of Anuradhapura and ceremonially planted in Mahamewuna Uyana. There, the blessed tree, continuously worshiped as "Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya", lives on even now, 2300 years later. This Bodhi Tree is the oldest living tree with a known planting date and regarded as the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world.

Religious observations took place for the annual Sanghamitta Day celebrations at London Buddhist Vihara and started with administering the Eight Precepts and Admonition (Anusasana) by Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thero, Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain and Head of the Vihara. The meditation programme was conducted by Sister Ajahn Sundara representing Amarawathi Buddhist Monastery, Hamel Hampstead, Hertfordshire. Sinhala Dhamma sermon was delivered by Ven Thawalama Bandula Thero. Sinhala and English Dhamma talks, Sutta readings, Pirith Chanting, Buddha puja and many more events were included to the busy schedule of the day.

Large numbers of upasakasa and upasikas observed Eight Precepts (Ata Sil) and venerable monks and devotees of the temple participated the religious event.

Pix by: Tissa Madawela