Showing posts with label Piyumi Boteju. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Piyumi Boteju. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Weddings in Buddhist temples and Christianization of Buddhism

New couple under a bo tree
(May 12, Colombo - Lanka PolityPiyumi Boteju is a beautiful actress of Sri Lanka. She took the hands of a young man recently and she made a topic for us not because of her wedding but because of the venue it was held.

The wedding took place in Gangaramaya, a famous Buddhist temple in Colombo. Buddhism deals mostly with the spiritual side of the life and the Buddhist temple normally is not a place where weddings take place.

But in recent times, some young Buddhist couples tend to register their weddings in temples and some of them lobby for Buddhist monks vested in legal powers to register marriages, a power that the Christian priests possess.

This is the Vesak month the Buddhists commemorate the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha. It is interesting to see that the Buddhists send Vesak cards as same as Christians, make Sal Uyana, an equivalent of a Christmas decoration and sing Vesak 'carols'. The day following the Vesak full moon day is a holiday in Sri Lanka and many Buddhists feast on that day like Christians do on Christmas.

This 'Christianization' of Buddhism began in late 19th century under the patronage of Henry Steel Olcott of Buddhist Theosophical Society. One can study the ancient Sinhala literature to see how different the way the Buddhists followed religion before this cultural reform.

Weddings in temples are a culmination of this 'Christianization of Buddhism' movement.

Apart from the shifts in the traditional sects, some Buddhist monks have even imitated the evangelist Christian sects when they created a new kind of religious centers called Asapu in Sri Lanka.

Inter religious cultural transfer is common and Sri Lanka's Christianity too is immensely influenced by Buddhism.

But the problem here is that the Buddhist leaders blatantly imitate Christian values while criticizing West and sowing hatred against the minority religions in the country.

Original Buddhism is far different from what is now worshiped by most 'Buddhists' in Sri Lanka. During Vesak, it is good if Buddhists can focus to rediscover Buddha, leaving behind this hubbub of religio-business and chauvinist ethno-religious projects that go in the name of Buddhism in contemporary Sri Lankan society.

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