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Tsunami Focus Point - Tsunami information at One PointMihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

Gateway to the South

TODAY to commemorate the 28th death anniversary of Sir Cyril de Zoysa we touch on one of the most inspiring projects started by the late philanthropist, amongst his many other charitable gestures made towards preserving Buddhism in this country.

Late Sir Cyril de Zoysa

THE Kalutara Bodiya which is venerated by all Buddhists in this country and specially the ones that travel to and from the South, compels every one of them to stop over at the Sacred Shrine to pay their respects by way of worshipping and offerings.

The giant Dagoba and Bo-Tree that has spread out and stands up to a height that is visible from a vast distance as one approaches the Shrine from Colombo, The Bo-Tree is believed to be a sapling of the Sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya of Anuradhapura.

According to the General Manager of the Bodhiya Trust K.M.C. Bandaranayaka, during the 2nd century AD the Venerable Mahinda Thera has directed that 32 saplings taken from the Sri Mahabodhiya be planted at certain points around the country.

The ornamental pandol that stands at the entrance to the Sacred Tree.

The present Bo-Tree in Kalutara is supposed to be one of the 32 saplings. It is also believed that King Devanampiyatissa the 2nd nurtured and paid special attention to see that the sapling grew without hindrance.

Even at the time the Portuguese invaded the country in 1505 and later converted the Sacred Site into a fort the tree was left intact.

The Dagoba itself is supposed to contain the Sacred Relics of the Buddha which is another reason why most Buddhists are attracted to this shrine.

Devotees visit this holy shrine for a multitude of reasons. As at other temples and shrines the place is devoid of resident Buddhist Clergy though the temple has many organised events during the year of the Buddhist calender with some of the leading monks from all over the country participating.

 Releasing of cattle marked for slaughter is done in association with the public that contributes towards the charity.

The Kalutara Bodhi Trust was established by Sir Cyril de Zoysa in 1951, which has seen to the preservation, management, maintenance and welfare of the Sacred Bodhi Tree which has become an important landmark in the country.

The advancement of the Buddhasasana and the propagation of the Dhamma are also amongst the trust's primary objectives.

The trust which consists of eight trustees in all has Ajitha de Zoysa as its Chairman.

Among the many projects that are operated under the guidance of the trust are homes for the elders, a ward for the monks at the Kalutara National Hospital, financial support for children's homes, carrying out educational programmes at Dhamma Schools islandwide, programmes to release cattle marked for slaughter with the participation of the lay community, blood donation programmes where over a hundred litres of blood is collected from over 10,000 people every Poya day.

The Bhikkhu ward at the National hospital in Kalutara.

Providing of text books for educational purposes of the clergy in the Kalutara district and many other projects to serve both the clergy and the laymen.

Sir Cyril de Zoysa Elders' Home is located at the founder's residence in Bombuwala Kalutara and presently managed by the Trust. The Yatiyana-Agalawatte Elders' Home for Women accommodates and cares for 20 inmates over 70 years of age.

The trust has already begun a scholarship programme with the cooperation of the Defence Ministry to educate children of soldiers that lost their lives owing to the North-East conflict.

This scheme was introduced in 1996.

The 51 houses nearing completion in Balapitiya to be distributed among victims affected by Tsunami.

A scheme is also operated for the benefit of the children of employees of the Kalutara Bodhi Trust and students that successfully pass the Grade 5 Government Scholarship Examination conducted by the Education Department.

Financial assistance is given to students until the completion of the Ordinary Level Examination and if necessary it will be extended up to the Advanced Level Examination and up to University Education.

A project to teach children English at 28 centres identified and selected by the Trust is in full operation with over 1,500 children benefiting by this project within the Kalutara area.

A 100 litres of blood are collected from voluntary devotees every Full Moon Poya day at the Bodhiya premises, which is another regular feature by the Trust.

The Vishaka Children's Home is another charitable project started by Sir Cyril de Zoysa. The home gives shelter to girls below the age of 18 years from broken homes or those directed by the Commissioner for Probation and Children's Services.

The present Chairman of the Trust Ajitha de Zoysa and his friends and well wishers are contributing their private funds to keep the project afloat.

There are also over 25 children who lost their parents owing to the effects of the Tsunami receiving funds to continue with their studies un-hindered.

Funds that are collected on Full Moon Poya days from devotees who participate in programmes organised by the Trust are contributed generously towards releasing cattle that are marked for slaughter. At least 10 to 15 heads of cattle are released every Poya day owing to this meritorious act.

 The Kalutara Bodhiya.

In a land which is situated in the location of Sir Cyril de Zoysa's ancestral property in Balapitiya 51 houses are nearing completion at present to be distributed amongst needy families affected by the Tsunami.

The project which provides permanent shelter to these families is a move by the Trust to show its solidarity to it's vast number of followers and well-wishers.

The Kalutara Bodhiya Trust has not limited their generous activities only to the district where this great religious monument lies.

It has extended its benevolent support to various other projects islandwide. It has generously funded many activities that were created to propagate the teachings of the Buddha all over the country.

The Trust believes in preserving the propagation of Buddhism through the Bhikkhus.

This was the vision of a man who stood by the belief that the teachings of the Noble One is the only way to peace and happiness.

Today on his 28th death anniversary the Board of Trustees that are shouldering the colossal task of steering ahead the visions of Sir Cyril de Zoysa has widened the activities of the Trust to cover many of the areas of the common man that otherwise stood neglected, thus posing an example to many charities and trusts that are spread island-wide to follow its example.

'Sanath Gee Sara'

THE inaugural musical show 'Sanath Gee Sara' by Sri Lankan vocalist Sanath Devapriya, will be held at Mong Kok Community Hall in the city of Kowloon, Hong Kong at 1.30 p.m. on January 8, 2006.

Popular Sri Lankan Vocalist Athula Sri Gamage and popular television and film star Sanath Wimalasiri will also participate as guest artiste at this show sponsored by SriLankan Airlines and organised by the Association of Sri Lankans in Hong Kong. Most of the musical compositions at this show will be by well-known Sri Lankan music composers Nihal Gamhewa, Rohana Weerasinghe, Navaratna Gamage, Mahinda Bandara, Sarath de Alwis, Sunil Dayananda Konara and Shantha Jayalath Tissera. Lyrics are by Hemasiri Halpita, Ajantha Ranasinghe, Ratna Sri Wijesinghe, K. D. K. Dharmawardena, Yamuna Malini Perera, Shantha Kumara Vithana, Nihal Gamhewa, Sunil Dayananda Konara, Mahinda Bandara and Siyambalangamuwe Amaradasa.

Vocalist Sanath Devapriya hopes to launch his first cassette he and CD 'Kandulu Varushavakin' in April 2006. Music will be directed by Sumith Raj at this show compered by Sanath Wimalasiri. Assisting vocalist will be Rekha Liyanage.

The dance troupe of the SriLankan Association in Hong Kong will add colour to this show with their presentations.

Artist Priyantha Udagedara at Upstair Gallery

THE fourth one man exhibition by artist Priyantha Udagedara will be opened by Sri Lanka's leading painter Senaka Senanayake at the Upstair Gallery of The Thambapanni which is also a restaurant open for diners.

The artist who is a student at the Department of Aesthetic Studies of the University of Kelaniya received the D. B. Dhanapala Scholarship to pursue further studies on the subject of art.

He has also won many awards and has exhibited at many group exhibitions in the past. The exhibition will be open to the public from 6th to 31st of January 2006.



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