All Ceylon Buddhist Congress
The All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, headed by Dr. C.A. Hewawitharana the leading Buddhist fellowship in Sri Lanka, was established with the hope of uniting all Buddhists under one umbrella organization. The inaugural meeting was held at Ananda College, Colombo 10, in December, 1919 under the chairmanship of Sir Don Baron Jayathilaka. During the last hundred years it has become a great institution engaged in fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of Buddhists around the world;
At the beginning, the main intention of the ACBC was to systematize and regularize the work of the young men’s Buddhists associations formed throughout the country letter however, its objectives were widened to embrace the following ends as well.
a) To promote, foster and protect the interests of Buddhism and the Buddhists and also to safeguard the rights and privileges of Buddhists.
b) To promote co-operation among the Buddhists and Buddhist Associations.
c) To represent the Buddhists and act on their behalf in public matters affecting their interests.
d) To provide opportunity to Buddhists for free discussion of any matter affecting their interest.
e) To undertake Buddhist Charitable activities.
In order to achieve these multiple objectives several national councils were formed within the Congress and they are presently actively engaged in the areas of religious and cultural Affairs, social services, child welfare, education, development, youth activities, membership development, publications, research & international affairs. All these councils meet frequently, dedicating themselves to organize and promote social, educational and welfare activities. Lifetime dedication and generous contribution of leading Buddhists and active involvement of the general membership of the congress has played the major part in developing ACBC to become the most prominent Buddhist organization in the country. The ACBC, as the leading Buddhist organization in the country, has immensely contributed to promote and protect the rights of the Buddhists during the past 100 years.
Some of the past main activates of the Buddhist Congress are given below:
- Translating Tripitaka in Sinhala
Tripitaka Trust was established during the presidency of Prof. G.P. Malalasekara to translate Tripitaka from Pali to Sinhala and the very first section of the “Deeghanikaya” was published on the Independence Day, 4th of February 1945.
- Child Development Centers
The First Child Development Center, Viharamahadevi Girls home, Biyagama, was established in1945 and since then seventeen more welfare centers have been initiated and maintained by the Congress. ACBC’s child care institutions provide shelter and security to destitute children by providing them with a school education within a religious atmosphere and creating opportunities to develop their latent talents. The administrative councils of those homes are responsible for maintaining these homes, with the generous monetary and material contributions received from the public.
The most anticipated event for these residential children of the child development centers of ACBC are the Inter-House annual sports meet and the children concert (Tharu Muthu Daru). Over 700 children from 17 child development centers participate these event annually.
- Inauguration of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB)
One of the biggest achievements of the ACBC is the establishment of The World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) in May 1950 in the presence of 129 foreign delegates from 29 countries. Prof. G.P. Malalasekara was the first president of the WFB and the Head Office of the WFB was situated in Colombo from 1950 – 1958.
- Buddhist Information and Inquiry Council (BIIC)
ACBC contributed significantly to changing directions of government policies of post-independence Sri Lanka by appointing Buddhist Information and Inquiry Council (BIIC) on 2nd of April 1954 and several committees and commissions subsequently in its long history of hundred years. The council which was appointed in 1954 sat for almost a year inquiring into the status of Buddhists of Sri Lanka who are the majority population of Sri Lanka.
- National Council for International Affairs
This council was established in 1956 to advice the department of the Cultural Affairs improve knowledge and normative value of Buddhist. This council from 1958 published a monthly magazine “Bauddhaloka” and the entire cost was born by the Department of Cultural Affairs. This was the magazine for the Dhamma Schools and Sasanarakshake Committees of the Department of Cultural Affairs.
- Elder Care Centers
For the helpless elders who are in the evenings to their life after working hard for the country, serving the nation and the religion for a long time, the ACBC has established homes so that they could spend the rest their life peacefully. Wijerathna elders Home at Rathgama was the first one established in 1956. There are eight elders home now maintained by ACBC.
There are two Elder Care Centers established for sick monks at Baddegama and Kalutara established in 1961.
- World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth (WFBY)
The WFBY was formed at the 10th General Conference of the WFB held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in May 1972. International Buddhist Youth Exchange (IBYE) Programme was hosted by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress from 15 – 20 August 2016 with the theme “Exploit the Heritage & Culture of Sri Lanka”, organized by the Vice President of WFBY Mrs. Puthula Mayakaduwa. Today, WFBY membership has expanded to 38 Regional Centers in 18 countries. WFBY is the international network of the Youth Buddhist organizations around the world sharing the same aims of propagation and to promote understanding of Buddhism among youth.
- Annual Bauddhaloka Wesak
The Bauddhaloka Wesak which was commenced in 2002, build up an awakening to the Wesak Festival and it evade the darkness of the streets in Colombo. Since 2002 the Bauddhaloka Wesak is continuing as a very successful event of ACBC.
- Sadaham Yathra Dambadiva Bauddha Wandana
In 2003 the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress ACBC began a guided pilgrimage tour to India. The tour organized by the ACBC takes devotees to all the important places including Jetavanaramaya in Savath Nuwara, Weluwanaramaya in Rajagaha Nuwara, City of Visahala, Sankassa and Saanchi. Also ACBC hold an annual “Katina Pooja” centering the Lumbini Tempple and Jethawanaramaya in Sewethnuwara. Each year a large number of Sri Lankan devotees attend the Dambadiva Bauddha Wandana.
- Buddhist Renaissance (Punaruda Kriyawaliya) Project
The Buddhist Renaissance project is an initiative by the Executive Committee of the ACBC under the guidance Dr. Mrs. Milina Sumathipala. It is an outcome of long and hard discussion carried out by patriotic scholars and it is a national, religious and economic revival programme. Its core and action should be followed and understood by all Buddhists. The broad outline of the project was revealed to the public in October 2004. Under this programme, ACBC was able to establish the “Village and Temple” programme (Gamai Pansalai).
Dr. Mrs. Milina Sumathipala was fortunate to be the first lady to hold the position of the Hony. President of the ACBC. In 2001 when she was elected as the President, the ACBC was in a crisis situation both in operational wise and an economically. Her dedication, hard work and untiring services gradually helped to overcome this situation and to build up the goodwill of the ACBC.
- Tsunami Disaster on 26th December 2004
The tsunami 2004 was the biggest natural disaster to strike Sri Lanka. Around 76 temples all over country have got destroyed by the tsunami and the ACBC took the initiative to renovate 20 selected temples by making donations. While the donations for the displaced people were happened from all over the country, the initiative to protect the sacred places was a noble decision taken by ACBC for the sustainability of Buddhasasana.
- 60th Anniversary of WFB
Highlighting and re-activating the Sri Lankan presence in WFB, Mr. Jagath Sumathipala took the initiative to conduct the 25th Annual General Conference and the 60th Anniversary of the WFB in Sri Lanka in November 2010. It was a very successful and a grand Buddhist event happened in Sri Lanka.
- Women’s Progressive Society
This society was formed in 2006 with the participation of Dr. Mrs. Milina Sumathipala to uplift the lives of rural women and to further promote the Dhamma among the female folk in the country. This society is involved in helping financially for the marriages and providing shelters for needy families.
- Commission on Unethical Conversions
Under guidance of Mr. Jagath Sumathipala, the ACBC appointed a Commission to investigate the Conversion of Buddhists into other religions by unethical means and ruses and was actively involved in controlling these unethical conversions. The Commission report was issued in January 2009.
- Preservation of Archeological Heritage
In an effort to preserve the Buddhist archeological heritage and hand down that glorious past history to be learnt by the current and future generations, the ACBC in partnership with the Archeological Department organized several programs and courses in 2007. Subsequently, established a committee work towards the preservation of Archeological Heritage in Sri Lanka. ACBC is actively involved with this national responsibility and to work towards the preservation and promotion of Buddhist heritage, relics, traditions, practices and archeological sites such as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is replete with renovated monuments, restored edifices, preserved ruins and historical sites where the archeological excavations are still being continued. Similarly the pathway from Lankapatuna to Anuradhapura has many historical and religious places and facts with an archaeological value. Specially, launching an archeological exploration site in 2014, along with the ACBC 94th anniversary at the Wijayaramaya in Anuradhapura.
- Buddhist Literature Festival
The ACBC having identified that there is a lack of appreciation for the Buddhist literature in the country decided to organize an annual Literature Ceremony to felicitate the authors of the Buddhist literature. Since 2007 the Buddhist Literature Ceremony is annually organized by the ACBC in a grand scale.
- Vocational Training Centre
Ananda Samarasinghe Children’s home and the Vocational Training Institute, Kalutara opened doors for the students on 8 January 1976. Subsequently in 2013, the first Residential Vocational Training Centre for the children above 18 years was opened up at the Wijewardena (Girls) Child Development Centre in Walana, Panadura with the guidance of Hony. President of ACBC, Mr. Jagath Sumathipala.
- Buddhist Business Forum
As an initiation of the President of all Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) Mr. Jagath Sumathipala in 2010, the very first “WFB Buddhists Forum” was held at the 25th General Conference and 60th Anniversary of the World Fellowship of Buddhists in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist Business Forum 2018 – “Buddhist Leadership Practices in Business” held on 16th October at BMICH Jasmine Hall, Organized by the National Council for International Affairs of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress.
- Buddhist Rights Commission
The Buddhist Rights Commission was established on Poson Poya day in 2018 to Buddhist State Governance, Education, Economy, Medicine and Health, Law and Administration, Culture, Language and Literature.
- The Saamaggi Sangha Congress
In 2019, established a council for National Policy Making to safeguard the rights of the Sri Lankan people. ACBC is planning to establish Saamaggi Sangha Congress to bring all the Sangha under one umbrella to address the national issues.
Mr. D.B Jayathilaka
Dr. W Arthur De Silva
Dr. C.A Hewavitharana
Mr. S.R Senanayake
Mr. P.De.S Kularathna
Mr. C.W.W. Kannangara
Mr. S.R Wijemanna
Mr. M.S. Jayathilaka
Dr. Francies Molamure
Mr. D.C. Senanayake
Mr. D.P Nugawela
Mr. P.Robert De Zoysa
Mr. C. Batuwanthuduwe
Mr. H.Sri Nissanka
Dr. A.E Fonseka
Mr. Jayaweera Kuruppu
Dr. Lalith Rajapakse
Mr. Albert Edirisinghe
Dr. Senarath Gunawardena
Dr. L.G. Hewage
Dr. M.B. Ariyapala
Col. George Ranathunga