Over 2,000 Lankan Buddhists India bound for religious ceremonies

by Upali Rupasinghe, Lanka Daily News, Nov 22, 2004

New Delhi, India -- Around 2,500 Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka are expected to visit India during the next 10 days to participate in the annual Katina Cheevara Dana ceremonies to be held in Buddhagaya and Sarnath.

About 500 pilgrims from Sri Lanka have already arrived and are visiting places of Buddhist interest, Indian Immigration authorities said.

Meanwhile about 100 Sri Lankan Buddhist families living in Australia, America, England, Canada, Sweden and Italy have come to India on pilgrimage.

The Katina Cheevara Dana ceremony at Buddhagaya begins on November 21 with the chanting of the Mahaparithrana Desana in the night inside the especially erected Mandapa.

Sri Lankan monks will chant in different temples and student monks in universities in India.

In the early hours of November 22, Katina Cheevara will be first taken in procession to the Sri Maha Bodhi Maha Vihara from the Japanese Buddhist temple.

After religious performances in the temple, Sri Maha Bodhi Tree and Vajrasana Complex , it will be taken to the Buddhagaya, Centre of the Maha Bodhi Society of India.

According to Ven. Palwatte Seevali Thera, Bhikku-in-charge of the Buddhagaya Maha Bodhi Centre, besides other senior monks attending the ceremony the Most Ven. Ampitiye Siri Wimala Maha Thera, High Priest of the Kumbiyangoda Purana Vihara, Matale and the Most Ven. Madovita Pannakitti Nayake Thera of Maharagama will be offered Katina Cheevara as they have spent the Vassana Kala (rainy period) at the Buddhagaya on an invitation. Dana will be offered to over 1,000 monks.

The Buddhagaya Katina Cheevara Dana ceremony will be sponsored by Sandya Jinasena in memory of her late husband C. Jinasena, Deputy Inspector General of Police.

The annual Katina Cheevara Dana ceremony at the Mulagandhakuty Vihara, Sarnath will be held on November 26 and 27.

On November 26 evening the Mahaparithrana Desana will be chanted by Sri Lankan monks from evening till the next morning.

A procession from the Maithri Buddha Vihara carrying the Cheevara and the sacred books accompanied by Kandyan dancers and drum players from Sri Lanka will proceed to Mulagandhakuty Vihara before the chanting.

On November 27 morning Katina Cheevara will be offered to monks and will be followed by dana to over 1,500 monks and Punyanumodana to Anagarika Dharmapala, a founder of the Maha Bodhi Society of India who constructed the Mulagandhakuty Vihara.

The Katina Cheevara Dana ceremony will be sponsored this year by Priyantha Kethumati and his pilgrim group from Walala, Menikhinna, Kandy.