Weddings in Buddhist temples and Christianization of Buddhism

New couple under a bo tree
(May 12, Colombo - Lanka PolityPiyumi Boteju is a beautiful actress of Sri Lanka. She took the hands of a young man recently and she made a topic for us not because of her wedding but because of the venue it was held.

The wedding took place in Gangaramaya, a famous Buddhist temple in Colombo. Buddhism deals mostly with the spiritual side of the life and the Buddhist temple normally is not a place where weddings take place.

But in recent times, some young Buddhist couples tend to register their weddings in temples and some of them lobby for Buddhist monks vested in legal powers to register marriages, a power that the Christian priests possess.

This is the Vesak month the Buddhists commemorate the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha. It is interesting to see that the Buddhists send Vesak cards as same as Christians, make Sal Uyana, an equivalent of a Christmas decoration and sing Vesak 'carols'. The day following the Vesak full moon day is a holiday in Sri Lanka and many Buddhists feast on that day like Christians do on Christmas.

This 'Christianization' of Buddhism began in late 19th century under the patronage of Henry Steel Olcott of Buddhist Theosophical Society. One can study the ancient Sinhala literature to see how different the way the Buddhists followed religion before this cultural reform.

Weddings in temples are a culmination of this 'Christianization of Buddhism' movement.

Apart from the shifts in the traditional sects, some Buddhist monks have even imitated the evangelist Christian sects when they created a new kind of religious centers called Asapu in Sri Lanka.

Inter religious cultural transfer is common and Sri Lanka's Christianity too is immensely influenced by Buddhism.

But the problem here is that the Buddhist leaders blatantly imitate Christian values while criticizing West and sowing hatred against the minority religions in the country.

Original Buddhism is far different from what is now worshiped by most 'Buddhists' in Sri Lanka. During Vesak, it is good if Buddhists can focus to rediscover Buddha, leaving behind this hubbub of religio-business and chauvinist ethno-religious projects that go in the name of Buddhism in contemporary Sri Lankan society.


  1. Religion is an incessant flow like like anything. Given the geo-cultural landscape, rules can be bended as promulgated by the Buddha. It is done in order to cater to the spiritual needs of the people. It is better to have a Buddhist wedding than a Christian-oriented wedding party full of alcohol. Sri Lankan Buddhism has had a long history of Buddhist weddings. Read the history of Buddhist rites and rituals of Sri Lanka. Buddha never wanted to "freeze" religion in a particular format, and let the monks adjust and reinforce it according to the geo-cultural landscape in which the Dhamma has taken root. The writer must read before writing. Otherwise, the writer only shows his ignorance. The writer seems to be anti-Buddhist and pro-Christian, as his motive remains disclosed throughout the article. As I showed the article to some prominent journalists and scholars, they only said two words, "poor writer."

  2. The writer must know that there is know difference between spiritual side of life and material life. Buddhism is a way of pragmatic approach to life that an empirical existence. That's why I converted to Buddhism from Christianity.

    Following statement is of crocodile tears of a Christian evangelist in the garb of a Buddhist. Writer, you are a menace to journalism. People like you ignite hatred and put true journalists in trouble with the law of the land. Don't do cheap things like writing the way you have written the article. By the way, may I respectfully ask you how much Christian evangelists pay you? As a former follower of the Christian religion I know the kind dirty business the Christians clergy do.

  3. It must be the same writer who written both this article and the one on Somawathi Stampede, because in this article too the writer mentions an indirect reference to Venerable Kiribathgoda Gnanananda, as he mentions the word, "Asapu."Come on, stop this cheap, dirty work and find a toilet cleaning job.

  4. Correction: The writer must know that there is no difference between spiritual side of life and material life. All real life situations must be dealt with spiritually. Buddhism is a way of pragmatic approach to life that an empirical existence. That's why I converted to Buddhism from Christianity.

  5. It is Kiribathgoda Gnanananda & Co. which should stop the cheap and dirty job of commercializing Buddhism with an "ASAPU" concept. There is no doubt about the inferior motive of this convert.
    We know about two types of monks "Gramavasee" who look after the religous needs of the village dwellers and the "Vanavasee" who meditate in remote areas in search of the truth. This is a new clan found by a convert who all of a sudden realized almost everything which Lord Budhdha took aeons of rebirth to realize, in order to serve the town dwellers' Showbiz interest in Buddhism.
    I have one word for those Christian converts. We never asked you to convert to Buddhism, like your people do. If you came in, just learn before you are ready to preach. Believe me, it takes a long time to think like a Buddhist, let alone preach.

  6. The motive of the 'poor' writer is to focus your attention to the stupidity of imitating a totally different religion in an equally pointless struggle for dominance.

    Does Buddhism need Christian outer shell to appear before people? Buddhism had its own ways of dealing with the aspects of the material life. It does not need to imitate Christian culture for it.

    Henry Steel Olcott's movement deliberately engaged in shanging Sinhala Buddhist culture to make it outwardly parallel to Christianity. Couples that seek a venue for their wedding in a temple are ignorant that their move links with a non-innocent mediation of Westerners.

    Sixty years after physically relieving us from the colonial influence, is that wrong to struggle to get rid of the ideological enmeshes in which they put us?

    This is a space for inquisitive people, not for blind followers.

  7. Though a convert, I know all about Buddhism. Donaldp, you ask me any question regarding Buddhism, Pali Tipitka, basic doctrines of Theravada, Mahayana, Vajyayana, or anything. Otherwise, how can I teach Buddhism and Pali to Sri Lankans and Westerners both in Temples and universities. I'm not saying I agree to Venerable K. Gnanananda's teachings. I'm talking about the motive of the writer. I wonder whether the writer and you know correct interpretation of a simple Pali term, "yadaniccam tam dukkham, yam dukkham tadanatta." Donaldp you don't neep to ask me to convert to Buddhism. I converted to Buddhism from a world-renowned Buddhist scholar monk, Venerable Professor Walpola Rahula, who has been the beacon of Buddha's wisdom in the modern-day world, and from Venerable Rerukane Sri Chandawimala.

  8. Buddhist wedding ceremonies are pre-Christian and pre-Olcott. Study the "HISTORY OF BUDDHIST CEREMONIES IN ANCIENT SRI LANKA." I won't waste any more time with a writer who has no knowledge in ancient Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Thank you and see you again in responding to another article. May Buddha bless you! Thank you.

  9. Hi Guys, what ever said and done, It's American Henry Steel Olcott the one who gave us the Buddhist flag.He started Sangamitta and Mahinda to name few leading colleges in Sri Lanka.
    In christianity Marriage is considered holy and there is nothing wrong with that. Buddha too considred fidelity in marriage as holy.
    Religions are there for people and people are not there for religions.
    Every religion has corrupted monks or priestes or guru's it's because of the very nature of human beings as to why Buddha and Jesus and Mohammed came to this world and preach the philosophies.
    Buddha has any way appreciated religious harmany among religions. There is nothing wrong Buddhsit following christans or christains following Buddhists, after all that make Our country Sri Lanka unique and beautiful and world a better place..
    No body has ever proved one perticular religion is right and rest is wrong. So lets take it is easy and admire all religions. None of them teach anything bad. Humanity is in debt to Buddha,Jesus and Mohammed and other spiritual leaders. No science can give us the peace they have left with us....

  10. Anthony, I am absolutely dissapointed with Gnanannda Group. I refuse to accept them as a group of Budddhists. In that part of the world I live, ther is an "Asapuwa". Their mission, I mean the mission is nothing but to discriminate every other temple. You seem to be a Buddhist Scolar. Tell me, what Buddhist can talk down on the others? What kind of Buddhist monk can talk bad about others monks and create clans withinMaha Sangha? What Buddist monk can be arrogant about his belief? What Buddhist can neglect the safety of people and arrange to assemble a huge crowd at an unsafe place like Somawathi? These guys are not even Buddhist.

    I disagree with the writers comment on Henry Steele Olcott.

    You seem to be a real Buddhist. But I am very concerned about the behaviour of Devadattas. There was only one in Lord Budhdha's time. There are many more today.

  11. Hey Anthony, why do you have a Christian name if you are so good of a Budist? Your people killed almost all the Tamils now trying to find a reason to kill the Christians? don't worry about the quality of writing of other just learn to live peacefully with other people, no wonder SriLanka is so far behind..becaue of idiots like you guys

  12. Hi HH, Beautifully said. Thank you so much for being CRISTAL CLEAR. A fantastic reply to those who think 'I AM A CLASS ONE WRITER' Keep writting.

    Many Thanks.


  13. I totally propose to have weddings ceremonies like the christans have in the church, the muslims should have in mosque likewise buddhist should have in buddhist temples. These relgious places should provide the necessary facilities as weddings have become a costly affair in Sri Lanka. Its no harm in marrying a religious places it also give a sense of religious feelings to the intended couple and more dignified wedding without have all sort of entertainment normally wedding have. I hope all Sri lankans irrespective of the religion they follow agree with me

  14. Anthony if you are happy being a Buddist good for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Everyone can argue and challenge about their relegions whether its buddhism or christianity, hindusm or Islam, but everyone in this world must and should know, which relegion is true faith to follow. Everyone just bowing without thinking about the true faith for humanity. There plenty of relegions people are following but i believe only one is the truth and others are not acceptable. Also remember everyone how long he live or wherever he live in this world, he will die one day, tell me anyone knows what happend to those died? no one has clear eivdence accept Islam. Islam came after christianity, after Islam no messengers of the God or relegion never came, so just think about the fact without wasting time in this world. If you read "Holy Quraan" you will find the correct solutions without fail but dont see muslims what they do or did, Islam is the only true relegion and correct faith for human been. Just go and see without complaining agaisnt eachother. Islam is not responsible for wrong doing of muslim individuals. God Bless everyone to find a correct path.


  17. [Everyone just bowing without thinking about true faith.....]
    I refuse to read what morons write

  18. faith is not the way to realise the truth
    look from within not from outside

  19. Simply because you you don't have to change your name. And, all converting to Buddhism the must change their names. What an idiotic idea Mario has. Mario I'm not Tamil. I'm a Sri Lankan of British descent. Anthony and Sebestian are English names.

    It's the right of the millions of people following Venerable K. Gnanananda to follow him. Nobody has a right to say anything against that. Damien thanks. I'm a practising Buddhist, and not a professing Buddhist. I don't drink alcohol, no smoking, observe Eight Precepts every Sunday. I'm happy that I'm a Buddhist.

  20. CORRECTION: Simply because you convert to Buddhism, you don't have to change your name.

  21. Anthony, "observe Eight Precepts every Sunday"

    Tell me why only Sunday? Typical so called Sinhala Buddhist mentality.

    "Mano pubbam gama dhamma mano setta manomaya"- dhamma pada! Mind is the foreruuner.

    You don't smoke and drink good for your health!

  22. It's not typical Sinhala Buddhist mentality. It's what Buddha has taught in the Dhammika Sutra. Also, you can read Suttana-pitaka-atthakathas. In London where I'm teaching as a professor these days local British children also observe Eight Precepts. Mind is the forerunner -I'm happy that you know that, and apply it for yourself. Lord Buddha was the first spiritual teacher to explain the consequences of alcoholism and drugs in a scientific way. If you visit the United States, you will see local American kids meditate and observe even Ten Precepts. My way has nothing to do with typical Sinhala Buddhist mentality. Sorry but you have ask a Sinhalese about that.

    May the Dhamma guide you through life!

    May you be well, happy and peaceful!

    Thank you.

    With metta,

    Anthony Sebestian

  23. Professor Anthony, Please let me know what 10 precepts (as you mentioned)these american kids Practice.
    Interesting to know..

  24. Anthony, You say -"It's what Buddha has taught in the Dhammika Sutra. Also, you can read Suttana-pitaka-atthakathas".

    Where did Buddha say observe Eight Precepts every Sunday as you mentioned? and the way you practice only on Sunday :-) may be Sabbath aha!

  25. Jesus was a Buddhist inspired. However due to his short life, he could only explain compassion to people but failed to explain the rationality of thoughts required to have a truthful harmonious life. His half learned half ignorant disciples understood only enough to declare him the Son of God. No wonder the bloodiest wars in human history have taken place right under the nose of christion Lords.


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