Saturday, 15 August 2009


Features | Online edition of Daily News - Lakehouse Newspapers <%dim dbpath, pageTle, Section, Section1 %>

The annual Bellanwila Randoli Maha Perahera is today:

The grand spectacle

In our cherished history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, the Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya occupies a very prominent place. Its history goes back to the era of King Devanampiyatissa. With the advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka, Ven. Sanghamitta Therani, daughter of Emperor Asoka brought the Jaya Sri Maha Bo - Saplings to Anuradhapura. After the spread of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, many Bo - Saplings of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi were planted throughout distant places of the Island symbolizing that Buddhism was deep rooted in the country.

The Bellanwila Esala Perahera. ANCL library

Bellanwila Bodhi is an off-shoot of the Anuradhapura Jayasiri Maha Bodhi. During the Kotte Period under King Parakramabahu VI, Bellanwila Bodhiya became one of the principal centers of Buddhist activity. With the arrival of the Portuguese, Dutch and British, Bellanwila gradually fell into oblivion. It was in the mid 19th Century under the stewardship of Tengodagedara Thera, that Bellanwila Bodhi was re-discovered.

Temple’s origin

The new era of Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya dawned in 1947, with Bellanwila Somaratana Nayaka Thera becoming the Chief Incumbent of the Bellanwila Viharaya.

Today it is one of the most respected and venerated Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka. In fact, thousands flock to Bellanwila daily to pay homage to the Sacred Bodhi.

The word Baptism is defined as a ceremony signifying a person’s admission into the Christian Church either by dripping him in water or by sprinkling him with holy water and often giving him a Biblical name or names. In most of the Buddhist families, especially in the Western Province, a new born baby is taken to Bellanwila Temple and blessed under the serene Bo - Tree. The writer is one of the many, to receive this blessings.

Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya is undoubtedly one of the holiest places in the island. Many local and foreign pilgrims are seen daily at the Bellanwila temple premises.

Culture of a nation is very important. Buddhists even under trying conditions were used to holding celebrations and offerings in the name of their religion.

The great chronicle, Mahavamsa records that during the Devanampiyatissa Era, Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi sapling was ceremonially planted. According to Vilgammula Thera’s Bodhivansaya, Bellanwila is one of the few places, where the sapling of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi were planted. After the discovery of Bellanwila in mid 1800 by Thangodagedera Thera of Attidiya Maligawatta Temple, he set up a monastery by the Bo - Tree at Bellanwila. In the course of time, Ven. Udugampola Ratanapala, Ven. Udugampola Dhammakanda, Ven. Weboda Sangharatana, Ven. Asgiriya Devarakkhita and Ven. Bellanwila Somaratana Nayaka Theras receptively held the Post of the Chief Incumbent of the Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya.

It should be mentioned here with gratitude that the ‘Renaissance of Bellanwila’ as a leading Buddhist place of worship began with Bellanwila Somaratana Nayaka Thera. The great “Buddaputra” can be considered as the Architect of Modern Bellanwila.

A pioneer

The greatness of Ven. Bellanwila Somaratana Nayaka Thera, can be judged by the powerful influence that he has exercised for the good of his generation and by the certainty of his enduring impact on generation yet unborn.

Ven. Bellanwila Somaratana Nayaka Thera, through several decades, presided like a colossus over the religious and cultural life of millions of people, men, women and children including the rich and poor, the learned and the untutored, the mighty and the humble, the privileged as well as deprived, the dispossessed and the downtrodden.

The Bellanwila Esala Perahera is the ‘Brainchild’ of Ven. Bellanwila Somaratana Nayaka Thera. The first Esala Perahera was held in 1950 and this year- 2009, main Bellanwila Perahera - Randoli Perahera the glittering spectacle, will be held today. The Bellanwila Esala Perahera program commenced on August 08, 2009, with seven days all Night Pirith Ceremony, Dorakadasna and Anusasana, Kumbal, Pavada and Ransivili Pereheras have already been held.

Cultural pageant

The great pinnacle Randoli Perahera, the greatest cultural pageant will be held on August 15 (today).

For this year’s Randoli Perahera there will be about 50 elephants. The Kandyan, Sabaragamuwa, Basnahira dancing troupes will be another centre of attraction. This is a pageant one must not miss. Today, the perahera will commence from the Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya and proceed through Dehiwala-Maharagama route to the Nikape junction. Then the perahera will proceed right, through Pepiliyana Road to Nedimala Junction. Then it will take the route through Bellantara Road, Somaratana Mawatha, Vihara Mawatha and return to Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya.

A bouquet

As usual, even this year it has to be mentioned with gratitude the enormous assistance given by the Buddhist communtiy in the area. The Dehiwala Municipality, Boralesgamuwa Pradeshiya Sabha, the Security Forces and various Government Departments have rendered their utmost to brighten this event.

Education Minister Susil Premajayanth, Sports and Recreation Minister Gamini Lokuge and the Goverment Agent Western Province have co-ordinated the entire organization of the Bellanwila Perahera.

We, offer a bouquet of appreciation to all those who assisted in organizing this great cultural pageant.

I may fail in my duty if I do not mention the ‘Great Buddhaputra’ erudite scholar, Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayawardanapura Ven. Professor (Dr.) Bellanwila Wimalaratana Nayaka Thera and Ven. Bellanwila Dhammaratana Nayaka Thera and the Dayaka Sabhawa of Bellanwila temple who are responsible in staging this grand spectacle.

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