Honor of the Golden Shawl for Bhante

Bhante Wimala being honored with the Golden Shawl.

It was the highest manner that Hindu Tamils would honor a special guest and this method was reserved for honoring, respecting, appreciating and considering very important people like Presidents, Prime Ministers and very special guests only.

The shoulders of Bhante Wimala were covered by a beautiful golden shawl woven on handlooms with an exquisitely embroidered border in soft silk and wool. In the Northeastern province of Sri Lanka this might have been the first time a Buddhist monk was given the highest honor by the Tamil Hindu community with the golden shawl.

Several Tamil community leaders delivered speeches appreciating the humanitarian work of Bhante in their respective areas for over two years. This felicitation ceremony was held under tight security of the Special Task Force.

Uncertain political environment and the ethnic conflict which is responsible for over seventy thousand deaths in the north and northeast kept most of the non governmental organizations out of these areas. Because of the dangers involved Bhante often was provided military escort, at time four men with guns for his security. Dangerous situations or the challenges in the midst of political violence did not stop Bhante from helping the victims of tsunami who had lost everything.

The Triple Gem Society founded by Bhante Wimala has completed a number of projects in the northeastern province under Bhante's leadership. The following are some of them:

  • Two hundred and twenty five families who lost their homes moved into newly constructed temporary shelters and homes.
  • 45 brand new homes were built in one village which was completely destroyed and the village was re-named Triple Gem village.
  • One Hindu temple which was destroyed by the tsunami was rebuilt and another one which was badly damaged was reconstructed.
  • One hundred children who were affected by the tsunami were given educational scholarships. Over five hundred children received school uniforms and two schools received computers.
  • Toilets and showers were built in places they were needed.
  • Livelihood assistance programs made it possible for many men and women to support their families again.
  • Daily meals were provided to thousands of families who were homeless and had no other support system.
  • Hundreds of families received the cooking utensils and basic tools to help them to start a normal life again.
  • Many problems were solved on a day to day basis during the most challenging and difficult times for the people of the area.
  • Kalmunai hospital received a valuable heart monitor and most essential medicine and medical equipment.

This time had been both difficult and rewarding especially for Bhante. The building logistics and daily challenges were complicated by political tension and changing circumstances, however, tremendous results were achieved. For this Bhante received this honor.

Honoring Bhante with the garlands of fresh flowers.
Children receiving school uniforms.
Young and old gathered and sat on the sandy beach under the shade of coconut trees.
Community members waiting for the arrival of Bhante Wimala for the ceremony.
Bhante Wimala accompanied by military escort arriving for the ceremony.