Ven. Sri Dhammaratana’s birthday celebration
Ven. Sri Dhammaratana
Last week, I was invited by the Buddhist Maha Vihara Malaysia to attend their special Dana ceremony in celebration of Venerable K. Sri Dhammaratana’s 63rd birthday. This Dana ceremony was also to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the passing away of Ven Chief Dhammaratana’s mother, the late Madam Daya Siriwardena.
Dana is an ancient Pali word for “generosity”, or “gift/giving”. 2,500 years ago, during Buddha Shakyamuni’s time, disciples and followers of sangha members would voluntarily give Dana in the form of food, shelter, clothing etc. It was in a very practical form towards the sangha member to survive.
Today, it is the same. However, times have changed and as the practice of the Buddha Dharma is in the degenerate age, the simplest (but one of the most effective ways) to receive merits and blessings from a sangha would be through offerings, i.e. Dana.
So, yesterday I attended the special Dana ceremony at the Buddhist Maha Vihara’s grand prayer hall, Asoka Hall. There were 71 sangha members who came from different Buddhist traditions: Mahayana, Vajrayana and Theravadan… and amongst them there were hundreds of devotees. They came to celebrate their Venerable Chief Dhammaratana’s birthday by being there and by offering Dana to the sangha… how beautiful.
Venerable Chief Dhammaratana is the Chief Incumbent of Buddhist Maha Vihara, Brickfields and is very well known in Malaysia for his missionary work. At the age of 17, he became a novice monk of which he briefly mentioned during his speech later during the day.
The event started at 11.45am, where the emcee introduced the different sangha members that were present. This was followed by a short speech by Venerable Punaji Thera.
Venerable Punaji Thera, or Ven. Dr M. Punnaji Maha Thera, is a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka. Ordained at the age of 30, he has obtained 2 doctorates in the United States, where he currently resides.
After the short speech, 3 prayers were done to represent the 3 different Buddhist traditions: Ven. Chief Dhammaratana did a prayer representing the Theravadan tradition, followed by a Mahayana prayer and then I was then requested to do a short prayer to represent the Vajrayana tradition.
The guests then offered Dana in the form of food to all 71 sangha. Many people of different ages came around to offer food onto the Sangha’s plates, who remained seated. Maha Vihara’s President, Brother Tilak Leslie Jayawardena, then gave Dana in the form of monetary offerings to all Sangha members. At this time, Kechara also offered Dana consisting of a box of Kechara incense, a gift card, an envelope with money and a khata which was wrapped around those items.
Orphans from Ti-Ratana Orphanage also came to give Dana in the form of bags with different type of goodies. Very cute and sweet offerings!
At 12.30pm, I presented an offering to Venerable Chief Dhammaratana – a 3ft Buddha Shakyamuni statue from Kechara Discovery and painted by Kecharians. I then gave a short speech, with James aiding me with the Chinese translation. You can see it all in the video below…
On behalf of the Gelugpa Vajrayana Buddhist Association Malaysia, Henry Ooi (who is also Vice-President of Kechara House) presented the President of Maha Vihara with a 12 inch Tsongkhapa statue. He then gave a speech, after which Venerable Chief Dhammaratana gave a short sermon.
He thanked all of the Sangha members who were there with him. He emphasized about unity that must occur between the different Buddhist traditions… explaining how during Buddha Shakyamuni’s time, there wasn’t “this and that” tradition. It was only after Buddha’s death that there was a split and segregation of traditions: “It (different Buddhist teachings) still goes to the same sea… same way”.
He advises for all to not criticize and make comments about other monks, but to open our eyes and to work together. Venerable Chief Dhammaratana identified how “we cannot be ego, we cannot be just selfish”, and he humbly appealed to all to work together.
It was a great speech from someone who is very qualified to speak as he has spent 46 years of his life in robes. To listen to what he says, the speech is in the same video below.
Do take a look at the photos and the video of an event that saw Sangha from Cambodia, Thailand, China, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Burma… all under one roof!
Ven. Sri Dhammaratana arriving at Maha Vihara
Mahayana monks arriving…
Vajrayana monks arriving…
Theravadan monks arriving…
Mahayana nuns arriving…
What a beautiful picture!
Ven. Sri Dhammaratana in the Maha Vihara compound
Venerable K. Sridhamma Thero and I greeting each other.
(left) Greeting the President of Maha Vihara and (right) a volunteer with a khata.
Ven. Sri Dhammaratana reciting a prayer before the Dana offering. Seated beside me is Ven Punnaji Thera.
Dana offering prayer from the Mahayana monks.
How beautiful… rows of sangha members gathering at the Buddhist Maha Vihara Malaysia.
Ven Punnaji (right) currently resides in the States. He has many followers in Europe, Canada and America.
Volunteers and guests giving Dana offering to the sangha.
Presenting Ven. Sri Dhammaratana with a birthday gift of a 3ft Buddha Shakyamuni statue
Presenting Ven. Sri Dhammaratana with a khata.
James Long presenting some monks with Dana offerings from Kechara.
Andrew Boon presenting some monks with Dana offerings from Kechara.
Albert Ratchaga presenting the Assistant Chief monk of Maha Vihara with Dana offerings from Kechara.
Henry Ooi (left) presenting the President of Maha Vihara with a 12″ Tsongkhapa statue and khata on behalf of the Gelugpa Vajrayana Buddhist Association Malaysia.
Ven. Sri Dhammaratana giving a speech to his students and guests.
The event ends and Ven. Sri Dhammaratana and I have a few last words with each other again.
Ven Punnaji and I saying our goodbyes to each other. He is visiting Malaysia for 3 months and will be returning to the States after.
A monk from Sera Jey Monastery came up to greet me.
Another monk from Jangtze Monastery came up to greet me as well…
I bumped into some long lost friends, including this nun…
She said that she went to Kechara Oasis to try the food, but it was closed… so I told her to go again next time during opening hours hehe
A video taken of the event for your viewing…
Or view the video on the server at: http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/TTRVenSriDhammaratana.flv
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