Sri Lanka plans coin series, stamp to commemorate upcoming Buddhist anniversary

Lanka Business Online, 22 February 2006

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lanka is planning to issue a series of coins to commemorate the upcoming 2550th Buddha Jayanthi, but details are still being worked out, officials said.

The government is to issue at least three new coins and a souvenir stamp, B N Jinasena, Secretary to the Religious Affairs Ministry said Wednesday.

Two high value commemorative coins and another for general circulation is being planned, explained Buddhist monk, Missaka Kamalasiri thero, who heads the project from the Religious Affairs Ministry.

The commemorative coins may ultimately consist of a Rs. 2000 gold plated issue and Rs. 1,500 silver issue.

"The denomination for general circulation has not been finalized yet, but we are looking at a 10-rupee coin," the Ven. Kamalasiri thero told LBO.

The coins may feature images such Adam's peak and emperor Ashoka's pillar, a lotus pond and the dharmachakra.

The Religious Affairs Ministry says the government is hoping to release the coins on the upcoming Vesak Poya day, which falls in May.

Central Bank's Superintended Currency A Jeewandara confirmed the coin issue, but declined to comment further as the project was in its early stages.

"There is still some more time, because the organizers plan to issue the coin in May," Jeewandara said.

In 1957, Sri Lanka issued a 5-rupee silver coin to commemorate 2500th Buddha Jayanthi, or the 2500 year in the Buddhist calendar.

Shortly after minting, most of the original coin batch was melted, but the coins are popular among numismatists.

The Buddhist calendar starts with the passing away of the Lord Buddha which is known as Parinirvana or the attainment of eternal bliss.

Nearly 70 percent of the island's 19.5 million people practice Buddhism.