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International Vesak Celebrations in Malaysia, 26th – 31st May 2018

PRESS RELEASE (31st May 2018)

The Buddhist Maha Vihara which is one of the oldest temples in Malaysia celebrated Vesak with the Most Venerable Datuk Dr.Kirinde Sri Dhammaratana Mahanayaka Thero forMalaysia and Buddhist Maha Vihara, Brickfields and His Excellency A.J.M.Muzammil, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka hoisting of the Buddhist Flag and also ceremonially inaugurating Sri Lanka Vesak Thorana on 26th May 2018.

The Finance Minister of Malaysia,YB Tuan Lim Guan Eng officially launched the float procession and also illuminated the Sri Lankan Vesak Thorana on the 29th May 2018. The Finance Minister spoke on the significance of the Vesak and also the opportunity that has dawn to build a new Malaysia. His Excellency A.J.M. Muzammil, High Commissioner recalled during his speech the closer ties between the two countries and also highlighted the 60th Anniversary Celebrating Diplomatic Relations between Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The High Commissioner also conveyed warmest congratulations from His Excellency the President and Hon. Prime Minister to the new Government. YB Tuan Anthony Loke Siew Fook, Minister of Transport of Malaysia also participated at the International Vesak Celebrations.

Vesak which the United Nations General Assembly formally recognised as a Day of Observance in 1999 has been celebrated in Malaysia since 1889. The theme of the International Vesak Celebrations this year was “Harmonious Society through Tolerance and Understanding”.

This was the first occasion a 60 foot Vesak Thoranawas constructed abroad and also the first occasion such a large Thorana was brought to Malaysia. The Vesak Thoranadepicted the “Story of Kundalakesi” and was displayed at the Buddhist Maha Vihara in Brickfields. The Vesak Thorana was presented by the Government of Sri Lanka to the Buddhist Maha Vihara to commemorate 60 years of Diplomatic Relations between Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

The Vesak Thoranawhich was brought from Sri Lanka has 35,000 bulbs and was constructed by the Corpsof Engineer Services of the Sri Lanka Army. The design, planning and construction work of the Pandoltook three months. A work team of 17 member from the Sri Lanka Army specially visited Malaysia and constructed this colourful Vesak Thorana.

On side lines of the main Vesak Programme, the High Commission with the assistance of the Sri Lanka Army was able to provide a traditional Sri Lankan cultural troupe to add the truly Sri Lankan Vesak ambiance to the celebrations. The 16 member Sri Lankan cultural troupe was made possible following a discussion between High Commissioner A. J. M.Muzammil and Army Commander Lieutenant General N. U. M. M. W.Senanayake during the latter’s visit to Malaysia to attend 16thDefence Services Asia (DSA)in April 2018. This magnanimous gesture by the Army CommanderprovidedMalaysian Buddhist devotees with an opportunity to experience a truly Sri Lankan Vesak Celebrations in Malaysia.

The cost to bring the Vesak Pandol, the work team from Sri Lanka and also the construction in Malaysia was borne by philanthropist Mr. Mahinda Jayasooriya,Proprietor ofSerendib Restaurant in Malaysia. The accommodation and meals for the work team and the cultural troupe were provided by Mr.SirisenaPerera, President ofSasanaAbhiwurdhiWardana Society of BuddhistMahaVihara, Brickfields.

Over 200,000 devotees participated at the International Vesak Celebrations with a VeedhiPeraherawith more than 20 elegantly designed floats and 50,000 devoteesleading the procession through the main streets of Kuala Lumpur. The Vesak Thoranaattracted large number of visitors since this was a unique experienced for all Malaysians. The Vesak Thorana and the traditional cultural troupe received wide publicity in the printed and electronic media.

The Temple also organized a blood donation campaign and a Sangika Dana for over 100 Priests. Free meals were provided to the all devotees visiting the temple. Vesak which marks the Birth, Enlightenment and Parinirvana of Lord Buddha also gave the devotees a truly Sri Lankan ambience to celebrate Vesak in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The Vesak Celebrations further strengthen the bilateral relations, cultural ties and also people to people contacts.