Sri Sangharaja perahera of Kandy
The pioneer of present Buddhist revival, Ven Welivita Asarana Sarana
Saranankara Sangharaja Thera will be commemorated at a public meeting to
be held at Malwatte Maha Viharaya, Kandy on July 3 at 1.30 pm presided
over by the Ven Tibbotuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thera
of Malwatte Chapter. This will be followed by the Sri Sangharaja
perahera which will parade the streets of Kandy starting from Malwatte
Maha Viharaya for the 66th successive year.
Ven Mahopadyaya Aluthgama Dhammananda Maha
Sri Sangharaja Gunanusmarana Sangamaya, Kandy, its Kantha Sangamaya,
Central Provincial Council with its Governor Tikiri Kobbekaduwa,
Pradeshiya Sabhas of Kandy and Kandy Municipal Council with its Mayor
are making elaborate arrangements to make this perahera grand this year
under the guidance of Ven Mahopadyaya Agga Maha Panditha Aluthgama
Dhammananda Nayaka Thera, Senior Member, Karaka Sabha of Malwatte
Ven Welivita Sarankara Sangharaja Thera was born in the small hamlet
Welivita near Thumpone in Kandy district on June 18, 1698. His father
was Mudliyar Kulatunga and he was given the name Kulatunga Banda. He was
ordained at Suriyagoda Raja Maha Viharaya by the Viharadhipathi
Kithsirimevan Rajasundera Ganinnanse who was also the Viharadhipathi of
Poya Malu Viharaya of Malwatte Maha Viharaya.
There were no Bhikkhus of higher ordination during the time and only
the novices called ‘Ganinnanses’ were in-charge of Temples.
Ven Saranankara did not get much patronage from the King Veera
Parakrama Narendrasinghe (1707-1739 AD) but he was successful in getting
king's help to inaugurate the first Pirivena of the present Buddhist
revival at Niyamakanda in Udu-Nuwara area.
All the aspirations of Ven Saranankara Thera were fulfilled after
King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747-1782 AD) ascended the thrown. The king
could get the help of Dutch to provide a ship for the emissaries to
travel to Siam (Thailand) to bring Bhikkus for higher ordination.
Ven Welivita Saranankara Sangharaja Thera.
King Dharmika of Siam sent 18 Bhikkus led by Ven Upali Maha Thera and
the historical ‘Upasampadawa’ was held at ‘Uposathagaraya’ of Malwatte
Maha Viharaya in 1753 establishing a class of Sangha named ‘Shiamopali
Maha Nikaya’ (Coalition of two words ‘Shiam’ and ‘Upali’ became ‘Shiamopali’).
Ven Mahopadyaya, Agga Maha Panditha Aluthgama Dhammananda Nayaka
Thera, senior member, Karaka Sabha of Malwatte Chapter inaugurated the
Sri Sangharaja Gunanusmarana Sangamaya, Kandy on May 15, 1947 at a
meeting held at Sri Pushpadana Hall presided over by the Ven Rambukwelle
Sri Sobitha Maha Nayaka Thera of Malwatte Chapter and held the first Sri
Sangharaja perahera on July 25, 1947 starting from Daluggolla Raja Maha
Viharaya, Ampitiya where the remains of the Sangharaja were cremated and
a Chaithya constructed by King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe enshrining the
ashes of Sangharaja along with the Sacred Relics of the Buddha.
The Sangaraja statue was unveiled by Pananwala Nilame, the then
Basnayaka Nilame of Srimath Upulwan Devalaya, Kandy while a perahera
organized by the Diyawadena Nilame C B Nugawela coaleased with this
perahera near the Sri Dalada Maligawa and paraded the streets of Kandy
and ended up at Malwatte Maha Viharaya.
This year's President of Sri Sangaraja Gunanusmarana Sangamaya is old
Anandian L H Harischandra, Treasurer being Chapa Weeraratne while the
President of its Kantha Sangamaya is Kusuma Weeraratne.