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