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This year, the Washington Buddhist Vihare is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It is considered the second oldest Buddhist temple in the West. The oldest Buddhist Vihare in the West is the London Buddhist Vihare.

The Washington Buddhist Vihare was established on the initiative of the most venerable Madihe Paennaseema Maha Nayaka Thero with the encouragement and support of the Ambassador of Sri Lanka (at that time Ceylon). Ven. Diekwelle Piyananda Nayaka Thero and Ven. Henapola Gunaratne Thero were the incumbents at the start. Monks from the Vajiraramaya, like Piyadassa Thero and Vinitha Thero regularly visited this temple for special occasions.

At that time, there were less than 50 Sri Lankans in the Washington DC area. The Thai, Burmese, Japanese and Vietnamese community also supported the temple and monks of these countries came to reside at the temple. The main building purchased in 1968 on 16st NW DC was formally the education office of the Thai Embassy.

The most Venerable Henapol Gunaratne Thero, now 88 years, is presently the Nayaka Thero of the prestigious Bhavana Centre in West Virginia. Mr. Chandra Monerawela, who was First Secretary of the Embassy of Ceylon at the time the temple was established and ex officio Trustee of the temple, paid his respects to the Ven. Henepola Gunaratne Nayaka Thero at the Bhavana Centre recently and was warmly received. He also called on the present Nayake Thero of the Washington Buddhist Vihare, most venerable Maharagama Dhammasiri Nayaka Thero.

Sri Express
Sri Express

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