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DateLine Wednesday, 3 October 2007

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Prince turns god after execution

LEGEND: Last week we drove to the Keerthi Bandara Devala in Walapane when we were driving from Kandy on the Raja Mawatha, turning from Milapitiya.

God Keerthi Bandara is commonly known as "Gale Bandara Deviyo", many provisional gods in our country are men who had died after great service to the nation. Grateful people who valued their services treat the dead as gods.

Keerthi Bandara belonged to the Kandyan royal family. He was a mischievous son of Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe.

NEW PREMISES: The Devale put up in honour of Gale Bandara Deviyo

 Due to the son's mischievous acts the father ordered him out of the palace and for some reason he selected Walapane for his living.

Obviously being one from the king's family people would have rallied round him and respected him. He without any ulterior motive assisted and directed the people to improve agriculture, particularly the paddy cultivation. He opened up new lands along the most famous Kurundu Oya for the paddy cultivation.

The king would have had an effective spy system at that time. The information of his son Keerthi Bandara involved in the paddy cultivation was conveyed to the king who feared of losing his throne to his rebellious son. The king kept him under observation.

The prince was at work on the banks of Kurundu Oya. He was beginning a new cultivation in the most fertile land. The king decided to inspect what the prince was really doing. He proceeded to Walapone with powerful army.

The king saw for himself the great work the son had done in paddy cultivation. He saw newly cleared lands at Serasuntenna and how popular the prince was with the people. The king met the prince face to face and requested him to stop further cultivation and also ordered him to hand over all his cultivated land to the king.

The son Keerthi who would have been obviously angry with the father for chasing him away from the palace refused to obey him and replied to the king: "You may throw me down this rock and kill me but I will not handover these paddy fields to you."

The angry king immediately ordered that the prince be thrown down the precipice. Two soldiers were entrusted with the dreadful task. The brave prince faced the situation boldly. When the two soldiers were pushing the prince down the precipice he grabbed the two of them too and perished.

According to legend as the prince was killed a god appeared in the sky and condemned the king's act. The royal elephant turned into stone. The god commanded the king to offer his royal neck towel to the dead Keerthi Bandara and construct a dewala. It was only then that the royal elephant was able to take the king back to the palace.

The people in Serasuntenna and Walapane from that day regard Keerthi Bandara as a god. Farmers in Walapane offer part of the harvest to god Keerthi Bandara even today. They call him Gale Bandara Deviyo.

The two soldiers who had died with the prince were believed to be born as demons. They are named "Kuda Hedaya" and "Maha Heda ya".

With the Mahaweli Development scheme the Devale had to be shifted to the present premises from Serasuntenna.


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