Interfaith Vigil For Sri Lanka Terror Attack Victims To Be Held Wednesday

The vigil will be at the Heinz Memorial Chapel in Oakland starting at 6pm.

Lynne Hayes-Freeland
April 23, 2019 - 2:11 pm

Cam McLaren / Stringer / Getty Images AsiaPac

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) – Religious leaders from across the city of Pittsburgh have come together to plan a vigil honoring the almost 300 victims of a bombing that happened on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka.

The vigil will take place Wednesday at the Heinz Memorial Chapel in Oakland starting at 6pm.

Abbot Bhante Pemaratana of the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center in Harrison is from Sri Lanka. “I am very thankful to the community in Pittsburgh who has been showing care and concern from the beginning,” Pemaratana told KDKA Radio’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland Tuesday morning. “Given the nature of the gruesome act and the lives that have been lost and the emotional pain, it is so healing to receive this kind of care and concern from people in Pittsburgh.”

Pemaratana told Lynne that all different types of religious groups live in Sri Lanka, and in terms of religious groups, they all live in harmony. “Easter Sunday is a public holiday for everyone and it is celebrated not only by Christians but also by other religious groups,” Pemaratana said.  “I remember that when I was in Sri Lanka people would light up their streets on Easter Sunday to join.  If you had a Christian neighbor, you would help the neighbor decorate the holiday street. So that’s the kind of relationship we have. This act is something that is really shocking and no one expected such a thing.”

Pemaratana was heavily involved in the planning of the vigil ever since he heard the news about the attack. “When this happened I was terribly shocked, I didn’t know what to do. I kept calling the Sri Lankan immigrants here and calling on my Christian and Catholic friends in Sri Lanka to make sure that they were doing okay,” Pemaratana said. “In desperation I wrote an email to fellow faith leaders, because after the Charleston church shooting in 2015 there has been interfaith clergy meetings happening in Pittsburgh in a monthly basis. I talked to them and they agreed to help with an event here. And after the Tree of Life incident, we are also planning different education programs and trying to improve our mutual understanding.”

“This is us showing our sympathy as residents of Pittsburgh,” Pemaratana said. “We understand the emotional pain when a religious place is attacked and so many lives are lost.”

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