A holistic rural community development model seeking to bridge the gap between the urban and rural communities via 10 empowerment divisions across 400+ villages island-wide reaching over 31,500 beneficiaries annually, free of cost.
The warmth and welcoming nature that Sri Lankans are famous for can in part be attributed to the plethora of values and world views brought out by the diverse beliefs and traditions of its population. Sri Lanka is made up of many different races, cultures and religions coming together to make up who we are. As we move towards greater harmony and reconciliation, the entire island celebrates different religious and cultural festivals together! Be it Christmas, Eid, Diwali or Vesak we unite, to share in the celebrations.
Poson is one of the most important religious events for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. The day marks the introduction of Buddhism to the Island by Arahant Mahinda in the third century BC. It is believed the Great Arahant preached the Dhamma to King Devanampiyatissa, the then ruler of the country, in Mihintale, Sri Lanka. This festival is usually celebrated with the telling of stories, creating pandols to retell the story, the giving of free food and drinks (known as Dansals), and the hanging of paper lanterns.
This year, due to COVID-19, Poson celebrations were more muted and confined to homes or diluted by social distancing and safety protocols. However, our Village Heartbeat Empowerment (VHE) Centres and their beneficiaries around the island, in their own way, marked the special day. In the South of Sri Lanka, students at the Rathgama VHE Centre cleaned the village temple while the Udumulla VHE Centre held a small flower ‘Dansal’. Our main Centre in Seenigama was also beautifully decorated with hand-made lanterns and oil lamps by the Akurala, Kahawa & Seenigama Children’s Good Values Initiative kids and coordinators.
In the Central hills of Sri Lanka, the Bandarawela VHE Centre constructed an entire fence of lamps to light up the village!
In a show of true unity as well as a celebration of all people and religions around the island, the VHE Centres situated in the North and East of the island where a majority of the students are non-Buddhists, they took the time to learn more about the day and celebrate it. The Sittandy VHE Centre (Batticaloa) coordinator and staff made lanterns from scratch and beautifully decorated the entrance. In addition to that, they prepared boiled chickpeas for the visitors while showing kindness towards animals in the vicinity.
A fresh milk dansal held at the Thirukkovil VHE Centre in Ampara brought smiles to many faces and the Mathagal VHE Centre (Jaffna) hung lanterns and lit lamps to mark this special day.