Sri Lankans have received an opportunity to live with dignity and self respect in the aftermath of 30 years of conflict, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
A felicitation ceremony to honour Viharadhipathi of Dematamal Rajamaha Viharaya and Chief Adhikarana Sanghanayake of Moneragala district Ven Galtemwatte Chandrajothi Thera and (Right) Chief Incumbent of the Kiri Vehera Rajamaha Viharaya and Uva Wellassa University Chancellor Ven Aluthwewa Soratha Thera at the historical Yudaganawa Rajamaha Viharaya were held yesterday evening.
Speaking at the felicitation ceremony the President said "All Sri Lankans who truly loves the country should protect the national and historical heritage".
The President also opened the new shrine room at the historical Yudaganawa Rajamaha Viharaya to mark the 700th anniversary of the Asgiriya Maha viharaya. The Mahasangha led by Mahanayake of Asgiriya Chapter Most Ven Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Thera blessed the President by chanting Seth Pirith at the temple premises.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented a special painting to the Ven Galtemwatte Chandrajothi Thera. Two books which were published to mark the felicitation of these erudite monks of Uva Province were also presented to the Thera by the President .
President Rajapaksa said the Bhikkus of the Asgiriya Chapter took great pains for the protection of Buddhism and Sangha order from ancient times. "These Buddhist monks of the Asgiriya Chapter protected the Sacred Tooth Relics at the expense of their lives during foreign invasions of the country.
The President said their enormous contribution towards the protection and promotion of Buddhism and country has earned the honour from people of all walks of life.
The President also added that the Mahanayake Theras of Asgiriya and Malwatte Chapters are in the forefront during times of national problems.
"They guide the country's leaders on the right path by giving Anusasans", he said.
The President said the people are talking of the Ruhuna with a sense of pride. The People of the Uva Wellassa region laid down their lives for the freedom of the country, he said.
He said that the erudite Buddhist monks in the area are following in the footsteps of our forefathers by rendering a yeomen service to the country and the religion.
He said that the services of Ven Galtemwatte Chandrajothi thera and Ven Dr. Aluthwewa Soratha Thera to the country are enormous.
"They played a key role in reviving Buddhist temples with historical backgrounds which were neglected for centuries, the President added.
He said members of the Mahasangha who were residing at the Kirivehera Rajamaha Viharaya blessed King Dutugemunu to fight the invasive forces and ensure the freedom of the country.
"The Mahasangha has been carrying out this duty entrusted to them by the country's history", he added.
The President also commended the services of Ven Dr. Aluthwewe Soratha Thera. "He is the live wire behind the revival of historical Kirivehera temple", he added.
The President said the entire Uva Wellassa region was devastated by the colonials in the aftermath of Uva Wellassa rebellion.
"Paddy fields, Irrigation tanks and Buddhists temples were destroyed by them, "he said.
The President added that the entire region was neglected until the country gained independence in 1948. He said that this area is becoming an economic nerve center after a lapse of centuries.
The President said the farmers in the area have been given lands to cultivate sugar cane to provide them a better income.
"The younger generation should learn a lesson from their forefathers who laid down their lives for the country, ' he added.