SAARC’s sacred salute to Sri Lanka
“Archaeological studies of religion increasingly recognise religion
as an organising principle in social life, rather than as a separate
sphere of activity. They include religion as an axis of identity, that
structures social life and personal experience”. In the past three
years, the SAARC Cultural Centre in Colombo, has continued to be a
vigorous new player in culture in the SAARC Region.
The discourse, that has been initiated by the Cultural Centre, has
enabled the SAARC masses to come to terms with their own cultural
identity and to project their unique way of life to the world outside
their region. The on-going cinema events organised by the Cultural
Centre, provide a telling impetus, towards the emergence of the
collective awareness of the idioms of existence, peculiar to SAARC
Lands. This is only one stray strand, in the strong series of moves
planned and implemented by the Cultural Centre, on a non-stop basis.
Most of us in Sri Lanka, do not seem to have recognised adequately,
that all of us in this country, owe a dept of gratitude to the SAARC
Cultural Centre in Colombo. With each event major or minor – in the
Cultural Centre Calendar, the image of Sri Lanka receives exequisite
enhancement, as the venue of these activities. This is, over and above
the enrichment many in Sri Lanka imbibe through their participation in
the SAARC Cultural Events.Viewed in this perspective, each event
organised by the SAARC Cultural Centre in Colombo, is a warm salutation
to Sri Lanka.
But, the major event that will be held in Sri Lanka, in late August
this year, will without even the shadow of a doubt, be the greatest
tribute the SAARC Cultural Centre has offered to this country, to date.
Opting to make Sri Lanka the venue of this conference, is, in effect,
SAARC's Sacred Salute to Sri Lanka.Titled the SAARC International
Conference on Archaeology of Buddhism, this event is a cluster of
inter-related activities.This central International Conference, is a
prestigious coloquium, in which scholars will participate to record and
assess Buddhist Archaeological progress during the last six decades and
thereabouts. Reputed Archaeological experts and Organisations, will
converge in Colombo, transforming this SAARC International Conference on
the Archaeology of Buddhism, into a global summit on Buddhist
During the past few years, Buddhist studies and surveys of Buddhist
history, progressed especially as a outcome of an engrossing
circumstance. 2011, marked the 2600th anniversary of the Enlightenment
of ascetic Siddhartha, elevating him to the unprecedented spiritual
stature of Gautama Buddha. During the run-up to this event (2011), a
renewed, enlivened interest in Buddhism and associated Institutions
could be vividly seen, right round the globe. This enthusiasm remains
undiminished even today.
This new admiration for the Dispensation of the Buddha, was
determined by yet another human factor as well. In the last few decades,
the whole of humanity was overwhelmed by the strench of shocking
violence everywhere, by man's cruelty to man and by the rapid
deterioration of peace and harmony, in most threatres of human
existence. This brought in a fresh yearning for the Teachings of the
Compassionate Buddha.The associated events, enhance the significance of
the International Conference of Buddhist Archaeology. A five-day (Aug.
21-26) Exhibition of Paintings by contemporary artists, will view the
Buddha, through contemporary eyes.Twelve Films on the theme ‘The Story
of Buddhism’ will be yet another compelling item of the cluster of
events, associated with the SAARC International Conference on
Archaeology of Buddhism (22-24 August) Other associated activities
include a photographic exhibition and a book exhibition – cum – sale.
Sri Lanka should be grateful to Director, SAARC Cultural Centre,
Colombo G. L. W. Samarasinghe and Deputy Director (Research) SAARC
Cultural Centre, Colombo Dr. Sanjay Garg, for this spiritual and
cultural ‘banquet'. Those who are responsible for the promotion of the
image of Sri Lanka, will, I am sure, consider this a golden opportunity
that has come their way, as such a galaxy of scholars and savants, forms
a rare group of influential visitors to our land of Buddhism.As for the
Central International Conference itself, it can claim its own niche in
history, as an International Council of Buddhist Archaeology.
Success of this conference, can be considered a triumph for Sri Lanka
too, as the host country for an Archaeological Conference, that will be
remembered for a long time to come.
An urgency enters into this conference. Currently Sri Lanka is
plagued by the menace of widespread treasure lootings. The Conference of
Archaeologists can establish the national and human significance of our
archaeological heritage, bringing into being strong public opinion to
counter such vandalism.
Those interested in details of this conference could contact Dr.
Sanjay Garg (Convenor), Deputy Director (Research) SAARC Cultural