London Buddhist Vihara commemorates 90th anniversary with week-long exhibition

Depicting temple’s history and heritage


Ajahn Amaro, Abbot of Amaravati Monastery, lights the traditional oil lamp at the London Buddhist Vihara’s 90th anniversary commemoration in the presence of Head Monk, Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala, Ven. Tawalama Bandula, Vice Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, Master Of The Royal Household and members of the temple’s Management Committee.

By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London


The London Buddhist Vihara, regarded as one of the crowning achievements in the life of Sri Lanka’s great Buddhist revivalist, Anagarika Dharmapala, commemorated its 90th anniversary with a unique week-long exhibition depicting the temple’s history and heritage.

On each day of the exhibition, distinguished guest speakers were invited to deliver a keynote address highlighting the remarkable role the London Vihara has played in Buddhism’s development in Britain.

Lord Nick Bourne, a British government minister in the Ministry for Communities & Local Government, opened the exhibition and expressed his great admiration for the long, historic role that the Vihara played in spreading Buddhist philosophy and practice in Britain’s tolerant and multicultural society.

He extended his best wishes to the resident monks and everyone associated with the Vihara, and hoped that the temple’s activities will continue successfully as it approaches its centenary and well beyond.

The other chief guests invited on each of the subsequent days included newly appointed Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK, Mrs Amari Wijewardene; Dr. Desmond Biddulph, Chairman of The Buddhist Society, Vice Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, Master Of The Royal Household at Buckingham Palace, Ajahn Amaro, Abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, Mrs Pat Smith, a longstanding loyal Vihara devotee and local dignitary, Dr. Patricia Walker, the Mayor of Ealing, together with the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Simon Woodroofe. These eminent guest speakers were provided with a guided tour of the exhibition and invited to address the temple’s congregation about the role that the Vihara played in spreading the Buddha’s teachings in the UK for the past nine decades.

Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala, the Head Monk, paid tribute to the dedicated assistance that the Vihara’s dayakas continue to play in the temple’s life and activities. He particularly praised the many organisations which sponsored each day of the 90th anniversary celebrations, which included the Past Pupils’ Associations of Ananda College, St. Paul’s Milagiriya, Nalanda College, Richmond College and Dharmaraja College.

Ven. Seelawimala also expressed immense gratitude to the invaluable support extended over the decades by the Anagarika Dharmapala Trust from Colombo.

The culmination of the Vihara’s celebration was the annual Founder’s Day lecture on Anagarika Dharmapala’s 152nd birthday anniversary delivered by Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner in the UK, Sugeeshwara Gunaratne, a grand-nephew of Devapriya Valisinha, the foremost disciple of the Anagarika and the Maha Bodhi Society’s former Secretary.

Gunaratne spoke of the lifelong dedication and personal struggles encountered by the Vihara’s founder in fulfilling his vision of bringing Buddhism to the West, when he addressed the packed sermon hall in Chiswick during his talk entitled, "The Contemporary Relevance of the Legacy of Anagarika Dharmapala and its contribution to the spread of Buddhism."

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