A distinctive concept of Most Ven Siri Samanthabhadra Arahath Thero, Umandawa is spread across 70 acres in Malsiripura, Kurunegala. Umandawa was initially an abandoned land that was overgrown with jungle, the Thero visualized a master plan to create an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly ‘walking monastery’ with hamlets, gravel paths, gardens, organic farms, ponds and large water bodies, and sculptures.
The balance of the environment was re-aligned by creating rain gardens and by growing several varieties of plants, flowers as well as trees both Sri Lankan and foreign. By doing so wildlife too has been encouraged to flourish at Umandawa. The Thero created a healthy, and nourishing environment, where people can learn the art of living in harmony with one another and with the Earth.
The meaning of Umandawa is the sanctuary of the wise or the spiritually awakened as it is a place where both the Sangha and lay persons inculcate the practice of mindfulness and spirituality. Furthermore, the kavya or poem of the Ummagga Jathakaya was written in Kurunegala, and the name of the book containing the kavya is known as Umandawa. Thus, there is a rich history and meaning to the name.
Walking along the gravel paths at Umandawa, you experience the beauty of the cooling environment. Ponds and various other water bodies have been created to provide water for cultivation as well as to cool the environment. Large trees provide shade and the stream that runs along the boundary provides the soothing sounds of flowing water. The large ponds have both native as well as foreign varieties of fish.
Reminiscent of ancient Sri Lanka, replicas of historical sculptures are placed at various places of the Monastery, this includes the Samadhi Buddha statue from the Anuradhapura era, Buddha statue with the elaborate pandol from Uththararamaya and guard-stones from the Polonnaruwa era as well as Nagarupa (cobra statues) amongst many others.
Each and every element of the Monastery has been designed and planned according to the vision of Most Ven Siri Samanthabhadra Arahath Thero. The architecture and designs of the buildings are beautiful as well as aesthetically pleasing each with a unique theme. Colours are used perfectly with interiors furnished to match the theme. Kethumathi Prasadaya is the awasaya (residence) of the Ven Siri Samanthabhadra Arahath Thero has been inspired by ancient temples that were multistoreys. The vibrant colors that have been used are similar in color to the flowers in the garden.
Beautiful murals adorn the walls and a resplendent Buddha statue, which is a replica of the statue at the Lankathilake Viharaya in Kandy. The interior is white and pure. The selection of colors and furnishing also indicate the teachings of life.
The Maha Sukhawathi Auditorium is the main Dhamma Shalawa and as evening approaches all Buddhist monks, nuns and other residents and volunteers engage in prayer and worship within its confines. The resplendent golden statue of Most Ven Siri Samanthabhadra Arahath Thero evokes a sense of spirituality and calmness.
The monastery encompasses a dairy farm for low income families, a unit for the production of dairy milk, a unit for the production of renewable natural gas and fertilizers out of the waste material from the dairy farm and a plantation for the production of organic vegetables and fruits. There are many projects which includes building houses for homeless people, providing monthly allowances and education scholarships for families suffering from Thalassemia and kidney diseases.
A series of activities was held on 15th December 2019 to celebrate the fourth year anniversary of Umandawa Maha Vihara Monastery. The celebrations started off with a ‘Shrama Poojawa’, which was essentially volunteering ones-self to clean and maintain the buildings and the gardens was held in preparation for the day’s program. Furthermore, the tree planting program known as ‘The Breath’ was initiated with the planting of 100,000 Sansevieria or snake plants. The fourth year anniversary celebrations of the Umandawa Monastery were indeed a festival of mindful living, where the precepts of Dana, Seela, and Bhavana were displayed through action. Every act in lieu with the fourth year celebration was conducted in a very simple, peaceful and engaging manner.