2003 - Sri Lanka - 5 Rupee
Syamopasampada - 250th anniversary
Weliwita Sri Saranankara Sangharaja

At the request of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, two Rs 5/- circulation commemorative coins were issued by Central Bank of Sri Lanka on 2003 July 13th to mark the 250th Syamopasampada anniversary of the Syamopali Maha Nikaya in Sri Lanka.

DenominationRupees Five
Diameter23.5 mm
Thickness3.0 mm
Weight9.5 gms
EdgeGrained-incused lettering
2003_walivita_Rs5_obverse 2003_syamopasampada250_Rs5_reverse
KM# 168

Obverse : Portrait of monk with traditional fan, with name WELIWITA SRI SARANANKARA SANGHARAJA MAHIMI in Sinhala on top, Tamil on left and English on right along periphery.
Years 1753 and 2003 to upper left and right , 250 below. SYAMOPASAMPADA ANNIVERSARY below in Sinhala and to lower left in Tamil and to lower right in English.
Reverse : The large numeral 5 at the centre with FIVE RUPEES in Sinhala, Tamil and English superimposed. SRI LANKA in Sinhala appear at the apex and Tamil and English on each side. The year 2003 of issue at the bottom.

Edge: Milled with the incused letters C.B.S.L. (Central Bank of Sri Lanka) in English, Sinhala and Tamil.

The Nickel-Brass coin has been minted to the existing standard Rs. 5/- in circulation and issued as a pair with coin for Thai monk Ven. Phravara Upali Nahimi.

Ven. Weliwita Sri Saranankara Sangharaja whose untiring efforts resulted in the establishment of upasampada (higher ordination) in Lanka in 1753. Ven. Phravara Upali Nahimi headed the Siamese mission of monks who arrived in Sri Lanka to establish upasampada. Read the 18th Century diplomatic success story

This pair are the first Lankan coins issued with a non-head of state on the obverse. Their issue was controversal as many felt the Buddhist vinaya which does not allow monks to touch money, was being broken by these circulation coins which may also be used in unethical financial transactions. I understand CBSL chose a circulation issue for economic reasons since they were able to have them minted at no extra cost to the standard issue. The original order of 10-million of each type has been reduced to 5-million of each, probably due to the controversy.

The Ministry of Buddha Sasana sold the coins to the public in square white plastic boxes (Approx. 2 Inch) with a sponge. Sinhala Text in a semi circle poorly printed on the transparent top. Only one pair of boxes were sold for Rs 70/- to any person.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka sold to the public in a 3 panel folder with 10 coins (5 each).

Hopefully like the Buddha Jayanthi coins most will go out of circulation and saved by the public.

The Design of coins were based on those provided by the Ministry of Buddha Sasana. Including all of long names and text in all three national languages, Sinhala, Tamil and English must have been quite a challenge for the coin designers. The upper coin uses an extra inner arc of text in Tamil and English, while the lower coin abbreviates the name in English.

The coin scanned at 600 dpi and the images are displayed at 250 dpi. The Brilliant uncirculated commemorative coin with minimum bag marks were selected from coins obtained from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. I thank Shehan Patterson for getting me the coins and Don Camp for bringing them. I had them in USA within 10 days of issue in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka Postal Service refused to accept the coins for posting without Exchange Control Permission although it is legal to take out under Rs 1000/- in Sri Lanka currency when leaving the country.

Media Reports CSO 2002 08 25 - CDN 2003 07 12