According to the President of the foundation, Ven. Maharagama Uthpalawanna Thereni, there are over 3000 ordained Bikkhuni’s in the country who have been deprived of their Identity Card by the Department of Registration of Persons or the passport by the Immigration and Emigration Department.
When we asked her what the reason was for this situation, she said the Maha Sangha in country states that there is no Bikkhuni order in the country and is opposed to them receiving Identity Cards or Passports under the title ‘Meheni’ or a title that identifies their status. Therefore, the “Sanghamith Diyani Foundation” charged that this situation has arisen as a result of the male dominancy within the Buddha Sasana and their male counterpart acting in a selfish and jealous manner to obtain status and benefits just for themselves.
The foundation alleges that at an earlier instance, when this issue was raised at the Buddha Sasana Ministry, the Monks had manipulated the department officials and obstructed justice being served to the Bikkhuni order.
However. Prior to 2004, IDs for Bikkhuni’s were issued without any hassle but it was refused for the ordained female monks. During that period the ID referred to them as ‘Bikshuni’ but it was later changed to ‘Sil Matha’. The Bikkhuni order states that ‘Matha’ means mother, stating that these Bikkhunis are not mothers and that title is not suitable and questions as to why they cannot be referred to appropriately.
Uthpalawanna Thereni entered priestess hood in 2013 having gained the ‘Pabbajja Seelaya’ and later being ordained. Prior to that she was an English teacher attached to the Education Ministry and also served as an English Lecturer.
Recently, she received an invitation to attend the Buddhist Conference in India and claims that it is an insult that she has to use her laymen title as ‘Miss’ instead or her ordained title. Although she had notified the Department of Immigration and Emigration about this issue, they were unable to provide a solution.
Therefore, she urged the relevant authorities to take appropriate measures to rectify this issue and grant the rightful status to the Bikkhuni order. She said the Buddha Sasana was made up of Bikkhu, Bikkhuni, Upasaka and Upasika orders and the Bikkhu order had no right to kick out the Bikkhuni order from this country.