Catholics, Buddhists Unite to Serve Devotees During Vesak

May 14, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: UCA News

Religious harmony prevailed in a farming village in central Sri Lanka as Catholics and Buddhists joined hands to celebrate the Buddhist festival of Vesak (Vesakh).

Devotees of both faiths offered meals and refreshments at a dansala (alms-giving center) in Hammalawa village on May 9, as thousands of Buddhists flocked to temples and thronged village streets decorated with lights, lanterns and religious flags.

Hammalawa is a sub-parish of Kuliyapitya parish in Kurunegala diocese.

The Catholic chief organizer of the dansala, Chamila Gayan, said the Buddhist-Catholic collaboration was one of many activities designed to strengthen religious harmony and overcome misunderstandings regarding people converting from one religion to another.

He noted that inter-faith marriages have also helped to strengthen relations between the two religions.

According to Gayan, cooperation for this year's Vesak celebration was on a bigger scale than previously. Last year, only soft drinks were served, but this time meals were also provided.

Buddhists and Catholics worked hard both day and night to serve devotees, Gayan said. People went from house to house collecting rice, coconuts, vegetables and whatever else was necessary to provide refreshments. Even shop owners contributed to make this a very successful interreligious activity, he added.