On Sunday evening, more than 30 people gathered at the Minnesota Buddhist Vihara in north Minneapolis to send peaceful energy and blessings to the victims of the attacks in Sri Lanka.
Witiyala Seewalie Nayaka Thera and Bhikkhu Bisho Kirti Maharjan, two of the temple’s resident monks, led the memorial service.
“Anger is never appeased by anger,” Seewalie said. “This is not a moment to judge but a moment to join hands and extend loving thoughts, words and acts to those in need of loving support.”
For Piyumi Samaratunga, who grew up in Sri Lanka and now lives in St. Louis Park, the service offered a space to react to the tragedy.
“At these times, you feel so helpless and so far away,” she said. She spent most of Sunday talking with friends and relatives in Colombo — one of whom heard the sounds of the bombs and initially thought they were firecrackers celebrating Easter.
So many Sri Lankans have heard the sounds of explosions during times of war, said Lucky Withanawasam, who also grew up in the country.
“But bombing a place of worship crosses a completely different line,” he said. “It’s tragic.”
Samaratunga agreed. She is Buddhist but remembers attending mass at St. Anthony’s Shrine, one of the sites of the explosions.
“For us in Sri Lanka, we have so many faith cultures, we are an interconnected faith community,” Samaratunga said. “It’s not about the division of religion. We all believe in holy spaces.”
So on Sunday, in a sacred space of their own, those at the service pressed their hands together, closed their eyes and — over and over again — sent thoughts of peace.