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Wednesday, 19 September 2001  
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First exposition of the Tooth Relic under British rule

by S.B. Karalliyadda

z_dalada.jpg (44361 bytes)The tooth relic which was removed from Kandy during the Uva rebellion by Rev. Wariyapola Sri Sumangala Thero of the Asgiriya Chapter was received by the leader of the rebels - Keppetipola in November 1918 in Wellagiriya in Maturata. An Officer of the British troop Capt. Shelbrige took into custody a Buddhist priest hiding in the jungles of Nikawella on 28th November and he was identified as Ven.

Wariyapola Sri Sumanagala. On a physical search the sacred tooth which was concealed in the robe was found in his possession. It was Major John Davy who arranged the relics to be brought back to Kandy in a procession with much pomp and glory with all the Kandyan chiefs and the Buddhist priests in attendance. Major Davy won the confidence and acclaim of the Sinhalese people for this act and offered his gold wrist watch to the sacred tooth.

First exposition

It was one hundred and seventy three years ago on the 29th May 1818 on Thursday of Wesak full moon that the first ever public exhibition of the tooth relic was held under British rule. The details of this event is recorded in a rare manuscript “Dalada Perahera Varuna” as follows: A stage 229 feet in length and 60th wide was built for the exposition of the casket containing the relics and for the priests performing the rituals associated with the exposition. A ransivige to place the casket was gaily decorated in the Kandyan style with gold and silver colour decorations with “reli-palam” made with silk and charmeuse clothes.

Gold chains studded with ruby diamonds pearls and gems were used for the interior decor of the “ransivige”.The cubicle allocated on the stage for the tooth relic was appropriately decorated in Kandyan arts and inside the ransivige a teapoy gilded in gold was placed for the relic chamber to be exhibited. This cubicle was decorated with jesmin, roses, lotus and other fragrant flowers. A perpendicular gold casket in the shape of a lotus petal was placed on the gilded teapoy to accommodate the relic casket. On the right side was a golden casket carved with expensive and rare diamonds, pearls and gem stones and on the left was a golden casket carved with precious gems, pearls and ruby but much smaller in size.

These two caskets were again covered with gold chains of diamond ruby and other rare varieties of gem stones. A decorated table to offer flowers was placed inside the “ransivige”. The area separated for the Maha Sangha on this stage was decorated in “rali-palam” made of yellow colour satin clothes and tender coconut leaves” “puruk-goba”.

Governor’s stage

Arrangements were made in a special stage for the new Governor Sir Edward Barnes, other British officials and Kandyan Chieftains. This special stage was sixty feet in length and thirty feet wide. The stage was decorated with Kandyan decorations of “rali-palan” in white cotton clothes and tender coconut leaves.

Various types of fragrant flowers and varieties of ripe fruits were used for the interior decor. Another stage of one hundred feet in length and thirty feet in which was provided for the chieftains of the Kandyan and low country disavanis.

Street decortions

This stage too was decorated in the same way as described earlier with flowers and ripe fruits. There were fifty three pandals erected round the stages. These were also decorated with tender coconut leaves flowers and ripe fruits and king coconuts to add dignity and decorum to the event.

In the four corners of the Maha Maluwa were the flag posts of Hatarakorale Hatkorale, Matale Disawani and the Maligawa. These posts were decorated in gold colours and the respective flags of the Disawanis hoisted. The Mahamaluwa was strewn with white sand over a coating of black sand strewn to the under surface. The streets of Kandy were gaily decorated as for a competition among the decorators. The British Commander in Kandy ordered armed guards to stand in every street junction. Guards with arms were placed in all the places entering the city.

A Malay troop of soldiers under the command of an English officer stood around the stage throughout the night and day. On the first day of the exposition George Turner and his Deputy Jhonsted Ford Rodney who arrived from Colombo joined the Governor Sir Edward Barnes who was already in the King’s Pavilion.They were joined by the other British Officers stationed in Kandy along with other local chiefs who were brought in a colourful procession to the venue of the exposition. The Governor with the Judges of the Kandy Courts complex and his companions walked up to the upper shrine room of the Maligawa.

The Diyawadana Nilame Dehigama placed in the palm of the Governor two handkerchiefs woven with golden threads studded with gems whereupon the Mahanayaka of Malwatte Ven. Gammulle Sri Sumana placed the relic casket in the Governor’s hands. The occasion was marked by the beat of drums, blowing of trumpets and conch shells and ringing temple bells amidst the echo of Sadu Sadu by thousands of devotees who gathered to witness this historic event. Gun salutes were fired by the soldiers to pay respects to the relics.

The Governor brought the relic and placed it in the teapoy decorated for the exposition.The exposition concluded on Wednesday 8th June but was kept open to the public till 18th Wednesday in order to give a chance to thousands of devotees who could not view the exposition due to the difficulties in coming to Kandy as it rained heavily on the first day of the exposition. The same rites and rituals accompanying the taking out of the relics were performed by the Mahanayaka of Asgiriya Ven. Yatanwela Sri Sunanda who was responsible for the return of the relics back to the relic chambers at Maligawa.

Devalé dedicated to Viceroy

by Nemsiri Mutukumara

The annual religio-cultural ceremony of the Tanivelle Devalaya inz_devol.jpg (62025 bytes) Madampe will be held from 5 in the morning of September 22 till late in the afternoon.All participants will be provided vegetarian meals in the morning and afternoon.

The Tanivelle devalaya is built in recognition of the heroic and gallant performance of Prince Taniya Vallabha, the viceroy of King Parakrama Bahu. Prince Taniya was administering the Madampe region in the North Western Province for King Dharma Parakrama Bahu of Sri Jayavardhanapura-Kotte.The Prince became extremely popular with the people for fearlessly driving away the foreign invaders and restoring to the people their traditional lands and agricultural property.

Prince Taniya Vallbha cut new canals and restored ancient tanks and repaired the abandoned small village tanks and provided ample water for cultivation.He patronised cottage industry and made people self-sufficient economically.As viceroy he encouraged cultural and religious festivals. He promoted art, sculpture and painting.

The village Vihara continued to be the centre of reduction and spiritual advancement. His benevolence made him to be considered as a demi god. After his demise, the people of Madampe where the Prince was resident, build a devale paying him reverence as Tanivell Deviyo.

The Tanivelle Devala premises is now complete with a bodhi tree and a Samadhi Budumadura built and maintained by the Tanivelle Devalaya Trust.According to folklore, Prince Taniya Vallabha was known to have gone on his sojourns on a white horse. During the harvesting season the sight of the prince on the white horse had been a glorious spectacle in the province.

The Vayamba - the North Western Province which was the hub of agricultural and industrial progress at the time continued to be a prosperous province for a long time.The devale dedicated to Prince Taniya Vallabha as a place of religious ritual by a grateful people whose belief that paying gratitude and offering to Taniya Vallabha Deviyo who is popularly called Tanivelle Deviyo would give them bountiful harvest and success in their ventures still persists.

In front of the devale is a life-sized figure of Prince Taniya Vallabha’s white horse in majestically galloping posture.Inside the devale are deposited the Viceroy’s sword and other regal paraphernalia. These ornaments are taken out once a year, during the festival and washed in fragrant water before depositing them again with deep devotion.

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