By Shiran lllanperuma
COLOMBO, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — In the ancient holy city of Anuradhapura in North Central Sri Lanka sits Abhayagiri Vihara, a monastery where the famous Chinese monk Fa Xian is said to have studied Buddhism 1,600 years ago.
On Saturday, February 15, the Chief Monk Kalanchiye Rathnasiri Thero, who had studied in the Chinese city of Wuhan for three years, led worshippers in a Buddhist “pirith” ceremony to invoke blessings for China and those affected by the coronavirus.
With Sri Lankan and Chinese national flags flapping in the breeze, the ceremony, organized with the assistance of the Sri Lanka – China Buddhist Friendship Association, was just one of the many religious observances that Sri Lankans of all faiths, not just Buddhists but also Muslims and Christians, attended in recent days to express solidarity with China in its anti-corona virus battle.
Earlier at noon on Friday February 14, at the 202-year-old Dewatagaha Mosque, with the assistance of the Sri Lanka–China Journalists Forum (SLCJF), members of Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority held a special prayer for those in China and around the world affected by the deadly virus.
After the special prayers worshippers shook hands with the Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka Liu Dong and other Chinese officials, expressing their goodwill for China.
“Your support and your blessings will make us more confident about defeating this virus,” said Liu.
Speaking to reporters,Saidulla Marikkar, Member of Parliament for Colombo District, said China has been a steadfast friend of Sri Lanka’s and has contributed greatly to its economic development.
“Because of our strong bonds with China, all Sri Lankans irrespective of their race and religion must show China solidarity and support,” Marikkar said.
Also at the event, the Chairman of the Dewatagaha Mosque, Reyyaz Salley, said now is the time for Sri Lankans to reciprocate China’s deep and long-time support.
“People of all faiths and creeds in every country must join to solve this problem. I hope and pray the virus will be defeated soon,” he added.
A day later on Saturday, the over-200-year-old St. Antony’s Shrine at Kochchikade in Colombo, witnessed Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Ranjith leading a congregation of Sri Lanka’s Catholic minority in a prayer of solidarity for all those affected by the epidemic.
“The ailment that has struck China has affected the whole of humanity. Pain caused to people in any country is a pain to us all because we are one human family,” Cardinal Ranjith said in his sermon.
Noting the deep friendship between Sri Lanka and China, Sri Lankan Minister of Road and Highways, Ports and Shipping Johnston Fernando, who also attended the SLCJF-organized mass at the shrine, said the virus “doesn’t affect just China but the whole world.”
“Therefore, the whole world must unite to support China’s leading role in combating it,” he said.
(The featured image at the top shows Abayagiri Vihara Anuradhapura Buddhist monks leaving for the temple to perform pirith)