Religious ceremonies in memory of Dr. Amunugama in Germany
By By Lalith Ganhewa in Berlin; Photos by Samantha Madura Abeysekara
Dec 22, 2017
Former Sri Lanka Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany and the Secretary to the Foreign Ministry and former secretary to the Board of Investment in Sri Lanka, Dr. Karunatilaka Amunugama passed away suddenly on December 13, at the age of 63.
The newly appointed Ambassador to Germany Karunasena Hettiarachchi and Mrs Hettiarachchi, along with the entire staff of the embassy organised the 7-day alms giving on Wednesday the 20th in the tradition of Buddhist funeral services.
This was attended by the highest Sangha Nayake for Germany, Chief Priest of Doranagoda Sumanthindarama and Berlin Sambodhi Viharaya, the Venerable Rambukwelle Devananda thero, Venerable Rathmale Punnyarathana thero from Hamburg, Venerable Gurudeniye Pannyakitthi thero presently visiting Germany and Venerable Maahgama Suvineetha thero of the Buddhistische House Frohnau Berlin.
Wednesday the 20th is a normal working day in Berlin the gathering was limited but representatives of Berlin-based Sri Lankan organisations along with few other close associates of late ambassador Dr. Amunugama were present for the alms giving.
Earlier this week Sri Lankan community in Berlin organised a “Mathaka Vasthra Puja” last Sunday the 17th according to Sri Lankan Buddhist funeral tradition, a memorial service including the offering of cloth on behalf of the dead at the German Buddhist Society centre in Berlin.
This Mathaka-vastra puja was conducted by the highest Sangha Nayake for Germany, Chief Priest of Doranagoda Sumanthindarama and Berlin Sambodhi Viharaya, the Venerable Rambukwelle Devananda thero, and Venerable Maahgama Suvineetha thero of the Buddhistische House Frohnau Berlin.
Tracing Dr. Amunugama’s career Reverend Devananda Thero said that soon after graduation from the University Dr. Amunugama joined the Sri Lanka Administrative Services. He initially took up duties as the Secretary to the Board of Investment and later distinguished himself as the Sri Lanka High Commissioner to Singapore, as the Ambassador to China and Japan.
On assuming duties as the Sri Lanka ambassador to Germany, he initiated a media campaign to promote tourism in Sri Lanka. Among the other notable contributions made by him was to organise Buddhist lectures in German commemorating Vesak celebrations. The first event was held at the well known Berlin Dahlem museum, to a large German gathering. Later it was followed each year at the embassy premises.
Ambassador Amunugama took the step to move the Sri Lankan Independence Day celebrations from the embassy premises to the Townhall in Berlin Zehlendorf which gave the opportunity for a larger crowd to celebrate Sri Lankan Independence Day.
He organised the official visit to Germany by the President of Sri Lanka Maithreepala Sirisena and through late ambassador’s efforts was able to get aid to the value of four million Euros.
Venerable Devananda said that the loss of such a person of the highest calibre and a patriotic son of Sri Lanka is something that our country can ill-afford.
Reverend Mahagama Suwineetha Thero in his sermon stated that he had come to know Dr. Amunugama about three years ago and was aware of his sponsorship in all Buddhist temples in Berlin.
The current Sri Lanka Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Karunasena Hettiarachchi speaking on the occasion stated that he was a contemporary of Dr. Amunugama in the SLAS and associated closely with him and as such knew him as someone who was held in very high esteem within the administrative service. Incidentally, Dr. Amunugama left for Sri Lanka the same day he, Mr. Hettiarachchi, assumed duties as the Ambassador in Germany. He said the highest honour we could bestow in memory of Dr. Amunugama was to continue taking an example of the good services started by him and trying to live according to his principles in life.
The “Mathaka Vasthra” ceremony was also attended by Mrs. Hettiarachchi and the staff of the Sri Lanka embassy, including the first, second and the third secretaries.
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