Sri Lanka Express

L.A. Remembers

Bodhi Puja held to commemorate end of LTTE war

   Parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila with expatriates at Sarathchandra Buddhist Center
Sri Lanka Express News
May 21, 2017

The attendance of visiting parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila and a song with touching lyrics composed and performed by musician Renuka Samath  headlined a  brief ceremony May 21 at the Sarathchandra Buddhist Center, North Hollywood to honor the men and women who served in the Sri Lankan forces defending the country against terrorism.

Chief Abbot Ven.  Ambalantota Kolitha welcoming Mr. Gammanpila said the temple was politically neutral and recalled the advice given by the late Ven Madihe Pannaseeha Mahanayake Thero to him and other young monks at their ordination in the 1970s.  “He advised us to work for community and social causes without taking political sides.  He told us not to be attached to any political party. We still follow that advice.  However, if any government does things that harm the nation or harm Buddhism, then we will not hesitate to speak out,” he added.   

Touching on the plight of the soldiers injured in the campaign to free the country from the grips of the LTTE, Ven. Kolitha said some of them are unable to even recognize their own mothers.  
    Renuka Samath
Devotees attending the Buddha puja at Sarathchandra Buddhist Center, May 21.
Mr. Gammanpila addressing the audience, many clad in white, said May 19 marks the day a brutal terrorist organization was finally defeated after immense sacrifices were made by those in uniform and civilians alike.

“Thousands sacrificed their lives.  Many who survived have lost their sight and hearing.  Some don’t have hands or legs, yet they can think.   They are sitting along on their beds and wondering what their sacrifices means to the country today.”

There are children who have not seen or don’t remember their fathers who were killed in the war.  Some of them are resentful and ask “why did my father go to war when other fathers didn’t?”
The large number of casualties and the prolonging of the war should be blamed on the foreign powers that intervened each time the Sri Lankan military was on the verge of victory and are not reflections of the abilities of the troops, Gammanpila said.     

Renuka’s song recalled the fear that gripped Sri Lanka for many years.  Mentioning the deadly terrorist attacks on civilians at Anuradhapura and Kattankudy she asked,  “Have we forgotten so soon?” 

Many in the audience said they were moved to tears by the words and have requested a CD of the song.  

Ven. Kolitha conducted the Bodhi puja which he dedicated to those killed in the LTTE war, those who lost their lives in the recent Meethotamulla garbage dump catastrophe, and the victims of natural disasters that occurred in the recent past. 

While Southern California has the largest concentration of Sri Lankan immigrants, this was the only public event commemorating May 19.