Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser attending the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Washington Buddhist Vihara on May 1, 2016 declared the day as “the Washington Buddhist Vihara Day”, recognizing in the Declaration that the District of Columbia is the home to the first Theravada Buddhist Temple in America and that the Vihara has been dedicated to presentation of Buddhism and extending welcome to all.
Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam joined Mayor Muriel Bowser on this occasion. The Chief Prelate of North America and Chief Incumbent of the Washington Buddhist Vihara, the Most Venerable Maharagama Dhammasiri Nayaka Thero presided over the ceremony and conducted the religious programme.
Message of President Barack Obama felicitating and congratulating the Washington Buddhist Vihara on this occasion was read at the ceremony.
Ambassador Kariyawasam read the message of President Maithripala Sirisena for this occasion which stated “The 50th anniversary of this renowned establishment provides an ideal moment for us to reflect on the wide-ranging role played by the Washington Buddhist Vihara in the cultural and religious spheres in the American Buddhist Society in general and for the welfare of Sri Lankan American community in the region as well.” President Sirisena further said “And admirably, the Vihara has become a centre for taking teachings of Lord Buddha and Buddhist practice to the wider American community as well. Sri Lankan Buddhist temples abroad function as a window to Sri Lankan culture and as a platform for socio-cultural interaction for those of Sri Lankan origin living abroad.
I recognize the role that the Buddhist temples can play for wider socio-cultural harmony and for the upliftment of societies both at home and homeland. At a time when my government has embarked on a new historic journey in building a more inclusive and harmonious society, Buddhist temples outside Sri Lanka can play a crucial role by bringing all expatriate Sri Lankans together, irrespective of their ethnicity and belief, to direct their energies and strengths towards inclusive national development with the objective of building a peaceful and prosperous country. I am happy to learn that the Washington Buddhist Vihara is playing this role successfully.”
Venerable Buddhist monks from several temples in North America were present at the day long celebrations, sermons and religious ceremonies attended by a large group of Sri Lankan-Americans, American Buddhists and other nationalities. Among those Venerable Theros present at the occasion were, Ven. H.Siriratana Nayaka Thero, Ven.K. Uparatana Nayaka Thero, Ven.Pasado Nayaka Thero, Ven. K. Dhammavasa Nayaka Thero, Ven. K.Nagitha Nayaka Thero, Ven. V.D.Vimalananda Nayaka Thero, Ven. K.Dhammaloka Nayaka Thero, Ven. P.Maithri Maha Thero, Ven. Vimala Thero, Ven. M.Saddhaloka Maha Thero, Ven. K.Vimaladhamma Maha Thero, Ven. T.Mahanama Thero, Ven. Vijitha Thero, Ven. U.Lankananada Thero and Ven. A.Mahanama Thero.