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‘International Day for Buddhist Women’: Buddhist International meets UN

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Chamila Liyannage (left), President of the Buddhist International in a conversation with Subinay Nandy, UN’s resident representative in Sri Lanka.

Colombo, Sri Lanka:  Heads of Buddhist International, met Mr. Subinay Nandy, UN’s resident representative in Colombo, and handed over an official request appealing to take necessary actions to declare Binara full moon poya day (Full moon day of the month of September) as the “International Day for Buddhist Women” by the UN. The meeting took place on Tuesday, the 22nd. Few representatives from women’s civil society organizations also attended the event.

Buddhist International has also sent the same appeal to several diplomats based in Colombo from Buddhist countries. The appeal was also handed over to Mrs. Rajshree Behen, the Director if Indian Cultural Center, in Colombo.  BI’s endeavor is to get the appeal diplomatically supported, probably at the level of UN’s general assembly, by the respective governments. BI has also sent the same request to honorable president H.E. Maithreepala Sirisena, Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe, Ministry of Buddha Sasana, and Women’s Affairs ministry, Sri Lanka.

Following is the appeal made by the BI.

Our organization, Buddhist International, comprises a team of compassionate and passionate Buddhists appealing to you from the heritage Theravada Buddhist nation of Sri Lanka.

History takes us back to India where the birth of Buddha took place and with time the flourishing of Buddhism across the globe eventually led to the dawn of the Bhikkuni female priesthood order started by Prajapathi Gothami.

That special event took place on the Binara Full Moon poya day by ordaining to priesthood the Shakya and Koliya castes. Wives of 500 princes had their heads shaved to be ordained. When Buddha declared it was not time for females to attain priesthood Prajapathi gothami led a procession from Kimbulwathpura to Wishalamahanuwara to constructively convince Buddha of the importance. It was on this Binara full moon poya that the successful effort bore fruit creating a historical event an outcome of women with blood drenched legs having walked miles to plead for their cause.

The role of King Ashoka of India in helping establish the Bhikkshuni order needs special mention. It was King Ashoka who sent his own daughter Sangamittra withunnamed the sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi after royal invitation by King Devanampiyatissa of Sri Lanka. It was princess Hemamala who came with the sacred Tooth relics of Buddha that is enshrined in the sacred Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

March 8th has been declared the International Women’s day by the UN. In Sri Lanka numerous organizations hold commemorative events with state patronage. This day has been celebrated since 1977 by the UN while in individual nations ‘National Women’s Day’ has also been celebrated.

In South Africa August 9 epitomized protest against apartheid in 1956 with women taking part in street protests. However women’s movements for rights has a longer history and goes back to over 2000 years during Buddha’s time. This is symbolic for many reasons and we appeal to you to consider the circumstance of how women made their appeal two thousand or more years ago during times when women had little rights.

Therefore our appeal is to

  1. Publicize through UN entities, programs and events the importance of the sacred Binara full moon poya
  2. Declare the Binara full moon poya as the ‘International Buddhist Women’s Day’.

We hope your office will pass on this request to the respective officials of the UN and support this noble endeavour which will be appreciated by the international Buddhist community that comprises a large number of growing Westerners.

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~As told to The Arachneed Journal by Chamila Liyanage and as per the press release on the website of Buddhist International.

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