Berlin Vihara Draws Many Westerners

May 4, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Asian Tribune,8096,0,0,1,0

The Sri Lanka-based German Dharmadutha Society (GDS) which manages the Berlin Vihara - Europe’s oldest Theravada Buddhist temple – elected new office bearers at the GDS Annual General Meeting held in Colombo last week.

They were Dr. Manel Lakdivdas (President) and (Vice Presidents) H.A.V. Soysa, Tissa Weeraratna, J.H.P Guruge and K.G. Sinhasiriweera. Senaka Weeraratne and H. Kalubanda were elected Secretary and Treasurer respectively. The Committee comprises Professor Jayadeva Tilakasiri, Dr. Newton Peiris, Major–General Sardha Abeyratne, T.P.Weerasinghe, W.Panditharatne, M.P. de Zoysa, Mahinda, Karunanayake and M.S. M.Wijeratne.

The GDS Report for 2005-2008 notes that in the period under review Berlin Vihara (Das Buddhistische Haus) drew a large number of visitors on a regular basis. Daily attendance sometimes exceeds 40 during the summer period. One interesting development is the increasing visits of German school children to the Berlin Vihara accompanied by their teachers, reflecting a new policy direction in Germany to give school children an exposure to the various religious influences in the country.

School children are drawn from schools from both within and outside Berlin. Other categories of visitors include Buddhist monks belonging to various chapters from overseas and within Germany, Sri Lankan delegations visiting Germany, members of various Societies, researchers, participants in workshops on religion, and sometimes even senior officials of various Government Depts, in Germany wishing to gain a basic understanding of Buddhism and practice of meditation, and tourists.