(56) Experience the bustle of the full moon holiday (Poya Day) at the Kelaniya Temple near Colombo!

Kelaniya Temple Travels in Sri Lanka, the Holy Land of Buddhism

Travels to Buddhist sites in India and Sri Lanka
(56) Experience the bustle of the full moon holiday (Poya Day) at the Kelaniya Temple near Colombo!

Now, finally, only one more day left of my stay in Sri Lanka. It will soon be three weeks since I arrived in Sri Lanka. And this day is Poya Day. Poya Day is a holiday in Sri Lanka, but it is not just a holiday. Here in Sri Lanka, the custom of visiting temples on Poya Day, which falls on the full moon day of every month, has taken root.

Therefore, everyone goes to the Kelaniya temple in the suburbs of Colombo to pray on Poya Day. Since I had come all the way to Sri Lanka, I decided to visit the temple to experience the atmosphere of this Poya Day.

The Kelaniya Temple is officially named Raja Maha Wihala, but is often simply called the Kelaniya Temple.

I came in the morning and there were already quite a few people around the temple grounds. They were all wearing white clothes. White clothes are the formal attire of Sinhala Buddhists.

When I entered the precincts of the temple, there were a tremendous number of people. It was indeed a Poya Day.

At the altar set up in the chedi, a line was formed to offer offerings. We also offered flowers here.

Even though it is still mid-morning, it is still quite hot. The intense sunlight reflected off the sand and hurt my eyes. Along the outer wall of the temple grounds, trees are planted like a tree-lined avenue, where visitors can cool off. According to our guide, there are people who pray here from morning to night.

Now, we are near the main shrine. We had to wait in a huge line just to get into the main shrine.

The line was so large that it was hard to tell where it began, and it was even difficult to find the tail end of the line from in front of the main shrine.

Finally, it's time to enter the temple.

The hall is one-way with a set pathway. The beautiful murals and orange-colored Buddha images are eye-catching in this hall, which has also been newly restored. The temple's official websitehome pageAccording to the "Kelaniya Temple," restoration of the temple began in 1927 and was completed in 1946.

The history of Colombo and other areas on the west coast were the first to be colonized by the Portuguese. This temple was also destroyed by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It took a long time for Buddhism to regain its strength, and it was not until the latter half of the 19th century that a movement for the revival of Buddhism began in Colombo and other parts of the country.

A statue of Buddha was enshrined in the back center. It is unusual to have a painting of a mountain as the background of the statue. Moreover, the use of light blue colors to color the background of the Buddha was also novel. Even though it is a newly built temple, it seems to have been created with a very free conception.

The most famous feature of this temple is these murals. These murals were created based on the legend of Buddha's arrival in Sri Lanka.

In fact, Kelaniya is also a place where the Buddha came to the island, according to Sri Lankan Buddhist tradition. This place has been a sacred place in Sri Lankan Buddhism since ancient times. That is why the people of Colombo come here to pray on Poya Day.

A linden tree is also planted in the precinct.

Here, too, the line of offerings is unbroken. As you can see in the photo, there were many people sitting on sheets in the plaza around the Bodhi tree and praying there. Many people had sutra books open and were chanting sutras. Although it was a national holiday, it seemed very different from the chaotic festive space that is typical of India.

Yes. The seriousness here clearly stood out. As I walked among these people, I couldn't help but wonder what this was all about. And then a thought occurred to me.

According to the guide, people come here to pray for the erasure of their bad karma (sins). Looking at those words alone, one might think that this is a very convenient way to be exonerated.

But what do you think? Against my own evil"Yamashiro."I think that such annihilation is earnestly sought because we feel the

In turn, I wonder how much the modern Japanese are now feeling the guilt of their own conscience. Nowadays, the heavens are not watching us. In such an age, why would we bother to think about our bad karma? If they had the time to do so, wouldn't they be told to push themselves to be more positive and earn more money? There is no time to feel jealousy.

But there are many people who blame themselves for being bad people. I myself used to have a strong tendency to do so, so I understand the feeling. However, is it not because of my own bad karma, but because of competition with others or failure in relationships? That is not the Buddhist perspective that looks at one's own anger, desires, and immaturity. Blaming oneself and feeling moral guilt are two separate issues.

Isn't focusing on one's own Buddhist bad karma and recognizing it, and feeling guilt and castration rather than guilt and castration, conducive to social good? Mushitta makes one aware of one's own sinfulness. It also makes one humble and tolerant of the evil deeds of others, doesn't it? If this is the case, won't society as a whole thus regain the gaze of the heavenly host? Wouldn't Yamashiro make society a better place?

As I was thinking about this, the guide said to me, "You know, I've been thinking about this for a long time.

Everyone who comes here to pray has a gloomy face," he said. Buddhism is supposed to be more positive. This is not good.

Yes, there is a point or two to be made. If we do many good things with a cheerful face, we will live a life free of bad karma. This is exactly true.

But sometimes that doesn't catch up with us. Hardship comes suddenly. Is it wrong to pray desperately at such times? Is it wrong to pray with a gloomy face?

How about a serious prayer for the healing of a loved one? Would you pray with a smiling face?

I think about this because I am a Jodo Shinshu priest. I believe that Jodo Shinshu is a religion born out of despair. The starting point of Jodo Shinshu is the despair that no matter how hard one tries, one cannot achieve salvation or change one's current painful situation. The very idea of accumulating good deeds has collapsed. I believe that Shinran Shonin, the founder of the Shinran Buddhism, had a special kind of faith to revive the world in spite of such a situation.

If you chant Namu Amidabutsu, you will go to the Pure Land in the next life."

This is the basis of Shinran Shonin's teaching. However, it is extremely important to understand why Shinran Shonin came to such a belief. This is where I see the despair of Shinran Shonin. I don't know how many years it will be before I can tell you about this in my own words, but I am sure I will.

In any case, it was a very gratifying experience for me to see the Kelaniya temple crowded with people on Poya Day. I felt the depth of faith of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. It was an experience that made me truly feel that there is a different way to deal with Buddhism than in Japan.

The following video was taken by me. I hope you can feel a little of the local atmosphere.

Now, the journey to Sri Lanka will finally come to an end.

After more than a month of travel in India and Sri Lanka, the only thing left to do is to return home. I am amazed that I have made it this far without incident. The experience in India in August, when I fell ill, has taken its toll. Thanks to that desperate experience, I was able to take on the challenge this time with full preparedness. In that sense, that August trip to India was indispensable for me. It was worth it.

Let's go home. There is nothing more to do. All that remains is to return home safely.

I can't allow myself to be so naive. At the very end of my trip, I received a shock that took my breath away. It happened on the flight back home. In the next article, I will tell you how it happened. My trip to India and Sri Lanka may have been for this moment.

Next Article.

Click here to read the previous article.

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