Sri Lanka Express

Death of Dr. Don Michael - L.A.'s First SL
Honorary Consul

Mr. Tantrimudalige Anthony DON MICHAEL,who served as Sri Lanka’s first honorary consul in Los Angeles passed away on September 18 at his home in Bakersfield.

Dr. Don Michael was board certified in internal medicine, cardiology, and bariatrics, the only person in the United States with all three qualifications.

Dr. Don Michael had several firsts: obtaining boards in internal medicine, cardiology and bariatrics (medically supervised weight loss). He invented and used ultrasound to open blocked arteries, and a facemask for doctors to prevent AIDS, the only one of its kind. His textbook and CD in cardiology, McGraw-Hill, 1998 and 2000, emphasizes the bedside approach. Dr. Don Michael has published numerous articles, abstracts and chapters in several textbooks, and is a prolific inventor with 29 high tech cardiology patents to his credit. Several of these inventions are being used in international research and have earned him a fellowship in the European Society of Cardiology.

He was a full clinical professor of medicine at UCLA, the president and director of the Advanced Heart and Medical Center, and was honored by inclusion in five Who's Who directories. He has served on national and international committees of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.
Dr. Don Michael at the opening of Sri Lanka Delight in 1994 (grocery store in the San Fernando Valley) 

Oregon Buddhist Vihara greenlighted for expansion

Kathina pinkama at the Oregon Buddhist Vihara.
Kathina pinkama at the Oregon Buddhist Vihara.
(All photos courtesy of the Oregon BV)

By Hassina Leelarathna

April 23, 2016 - It’s been a long time coming but the Oregon Buddhist Vihara ‘s is finally primed to expand. 

The Theravada temple in Hillsboro, about 20 miles west of Portland, has just been greenlighted by the city for a 3,172 square foot, two-story building, its first expansion since opening in 2004 in a one-bedroom house. 

The approval was plain sailing with no objections raised during a public hearing held in March by the city of Hillsboro.
Chief monk Ven. Pallebage Chandrasiri, formerly of Maithri Vihara in Sun Valley, who has been in charge of the Oregon temple since inception said a bigger facility was needed to serve the growing Sri Lankan community.

“When we first opened there were only about 15 families.  Now there are about 30 families in the area.  The Dhamma school has at least 30 children and it’s becoming very crowded,” he said.

Ven. Pallebage Chandrasiri
(Left) Children at Oregon BV's  2015 Vesak celebrations

The temple was originally purchased for $115,000, half of which was donated by philanthropist Ms. Shan Wijay who has made similar contributions that helped launch several Buddhists temples across the US.  The new building is estimated to cost $450,000.

Ven. Chandrasiri expects work to begin in about 2 months, as soon as technical reports are approved.   

In addition to the Dhamma school, the proposed facility will include a public meditation hall, a plaza/greenhouse breezeway, sangha quarters, and a library. 

Even in its cramped space, the temple has been holding traditional ceremonies such as Vesak, Kathina, and Sinhala-Tamil New Year celebrations.

Unchallenged approval by local authorities for construction of new religious buildings or expansion of existing ones is rare and Hillsboro’s  fast-track nod should give the Sri Lankan Buddhist community cause for celebration.  Public hearings for approval of Buddhist and Muslim religious, especially when led by Asians or other minorities, invariably draw community objection, some of it clearly stimulated by prejudice against religious or ethnic minorities.













Among the more memorable cases is that of a Vietnamese Buddhist congregation in Southern California which applied in 2006 for approval to build a 10,000 square-foot-temple on the site of a former medical building.  The request was turned down on the grounds that the site was inappropriate for a church.  The ACLU stepped in to sue the city of Garden Grove for unfairly denying Buddhists the right to worship by the enforcement of an unconstitutional city code.  A two-year legal battle ensued until 2008 when the ACLU won a settlement which allowed the congregation to proceed with the building of the Quan Am Temple.

What gives in Hillsboro which is 71.5% Caucasian and just 8.5% Asian?  Phil Hoyt who participates in temple activities believes the presence of 19,000 employees at Intel (Oregon’s largest employer) as well as other high-tech spinoffs in the area, has transformed Hillsboro from a conservative outpost to a bustling cosmopolitan city, the center of what's called "Oregon’s Silicon Forest.”

 “Large numbers of South Asian emigres, all of whom are high earners figure among Intel’s employees. As citizens they are valued for their productivity and contributions to the greater Portland area. South Asian temples are a natural outgrowth of this change in demography.”

He also credits “Loku Hamuduru” for the temple’s integration. 

“Another reason for local acceptance is due to Ven Chandrasiri’s ability to gain acceptance of local authorities and political figures. He has invited them to festivals and they have reciprocated,” said Hoyt, adding, “Oregon Buddhist Vihara is welcome in Hillsboro.”
 
 

Devotees  attending a ceremony at Oregon BV.
"Another reason for local acceptance is due to Ven Chandrasiri’s ability to gain acceptance of local authorities and political figures."


Sri Lankan Buddhist Community Opens Temple in Hillsboro

June 16, 2005
Source: Oregonian

On June 16, 2005 the Oregonian reported that a Sri Lankan Buddhist Temple will be dedicated this weekend in Hillsboro, Oregon. The temple “will be dedicated this weekend in an opening ceremony that will bring at least 25 monks from as far away as Sri Lanka. In all, the monks expect 300 guests, including members of Oregon’s Sri Lankan community and city officials, such as Mayor Tom Hughes. The ceremony is open to the public.
Temple members say it’s a joyous occasion for the Sri Lankan community in Washington County.

The Oregon Buddhist Vihara is the only Sri Lankan Buddhist temple in the state, and until Chandrasiri helped start it last fall, they had no place to gather or worship. Lalana Gunaratne, whose family lives in Beaverton, anticipates that the temple will strengthen ties in the community.

‘Now there’s something there to bring the community together,’ the 17-year-old said.

Oregon’s Sri Lankan community is made up of about 214 people, according to the 2000 Census. Temple members estimate about 50 families live around Washington County.”

Oregon Buddhist Vihara
148 SE Walnut Street
Hillsboro, OR 97123
Phone: (503) 681 3031