HE The President Maithripala Sirisena who was in London to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2018, took part in the Oil Anointing Ceremony held at the London Buddhist Vihara, on the 16th of April. This year the auspicious time of oil anointing, one of the key traditions of Sinhala and Tamil New Year was set on the16 April.
President and party arrived at the Vihara on time in a motorcade with specialist unit of the Metropolitan Police outriders providing security. Party included the First Lady Mrs. Jayanthi Pushpakumari Sirisena, Hon. Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Nimal Siripala De Silva, Acting High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the UK HE Sugeeshwara Gunaratne and the members of the president’s family. Members of the Vihara Management Committee, Mr. Sudantha Abeyakoon, Dr. Lucky Panagoda and Mr. Leslie Dep welcomed the President on his arrival at the Dharmapala Building, Chiswick, West London. Before the Oil Anointing Ceremony commenced at the auspicious time, Most Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera, Head of the Vihara and the Chief Sanghanayaka of Great Britain, greeted the President and the party in the reception room. The Oil Anointing Ceremony was held in the shrine room. Ven. Seelawimala Nayaka Thera anointed specially prepared oil on the head of the President and others while the resident monks chanted Seth Pirith. Oil used at the ceremony was provided by the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka. After the Ceremony President offered Atapirikara and a special souvenir to the Nayaka Thera.
Later, the President engaged in religious observances, signed the visitor’s book and had cordial discussions with a group of regular supporters of the London Buddhist Vihara who attended the ceremony and extended his best wishes for the New Year.
Photographs by Tissa Madawela