May 22, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said it is vital that government provides financial assistance to develop religious places with historical value which play a big role in people's lives.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the ceremony at Temple Trees yesterday to provide financial assistance to religious places in the Colombo city.
The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) organizes this event annually to donate financial assistance of Rs. 50,000 each to all religious centers in the Municipal Council area to facilitate religious celebrations to ensure harmony among people.
Speaking at the event, the Premier said it is necessary to protect the rural and urban temples and the government is committed to ensure the safety and security of the temples and other Buddhist sites in the country and to protect places of religious significance from any harm.
He said a large amount of money is spent for the temples in the Colombo Municipal Council for Vesak and Poson ceremonies and for day-to-day maintenance and finding money for temples is not an easy task as most of temples are located in Colombo's poor neighborhoods.
"We need to protect temples in the city as well as village temples. All these temples should be developed and taken forward. The city's temples and the village's temple should never be allowed to deteriorate. Our government will not allow that," he said.
He said the society has become more complicated but the demand for spiritual development is gradually increasing not decreasing. "Therefore, we must facilitate religious sites to develop our spiritual aspect and the temples providing the spiritual knowledge must be developed."
The Prime Minister said that when the country develops, contributors to the temples (Dayaka Sabhas) too develop and they donate more and more to meet the needs of the temples.. The funds can be used to develop the temples
"The government is also engaged in the development of temples. Temples in Sri Lanka with a majority of Sinhala Buddhists must be protected," the Premier stressed.
He said during the period of Portuguese occupation, Sri Lanka's temples were destroyed and it took three, four centuries to rebuild those temples as well as to hold monk's ordination ceremonies (Upa Sampadas).
"Therefore, protecting temples and the Maha Sangha at present should be considered as a government priority. it is the responsibility of the government to uplift the religious sites," he said.
"At present the people in the village are migrating to the city. As the village loses the people to the city contributors to the temple are also reduced. It is not possible to think that people coming from the village to the city can contribute to the city temples right away. This situation has caused problems for the village and the village temples. The government's aim is to help to avoid these situations as much as possible," he explained.
Thanking the Mayor of Colombo Rosy Senanayake for organizing the event, the Premier said the purpose of the assistance from the President's Fund and the Prime Minister's office is to build temples and this charitable act will continue.