Man is a spiritual being, and deep within his mortal soul is a longing to seek divine solace. Buddhism has been practiced and piously followed in Sri Lanka for centuries. Thus the village temple has been the inspiration of life to generations of devotees. The resident monk has been tasked with being a teacher, wise counsellor, mediator and prudent enforcer of peace. Today many visit the large temples located in the main cities. With modernization and digital connectivity people in the city go to their temples perhaps on a Poya day, but in the rural interior villages the temple is the epicentre of all life.
I travelled from Colombo with a friend in search of the village of Khongaskada. We reached this area after travelling by train and then a drive of about 30 minutes. The muddy road to the temple was decorated with Buddhist flags. The 200 families here were getting ready for a pinkama. The monk here is 32-year-old Ulukulame Indrasara Thera, whom I have met before on a previous visit to Medawachchiya. The small Sri Sobitharama temple does not have a pagoda and the desire of these folk is to build one. The temple has already cleared a bare land to begin the building process, but they lack the resources.
A majority of the village folk engage in traditional farming. The children are closely associated with the temple, and faithfully attend their Dhamma School, every Sunday morning. The determined monk says that the pagoda when built will certainly be a beacon of hope for these people who live a simple life, and he looks for the support of donors. The new pagoda will empower these humble village folk and enrich their community spirit.
As we came to the temple, we saw a long line of villagers clad in white appear carrying Ata Pirikara. Tamil and Muslim people also participated in this event, a fine example of national unity. The villagers gathered together for a noble cause. The faith of these villagers and the devotion shown was outstanding. That night I pondered on how much people in Colombo waste in their selfish indulgence. I am confident that we can help the people of this village build their sacred pagoda.