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Friday, 8 February 2013

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Heiyanthuduwe Raja’s tusks, skeleton preserved

The tusks and skeletal remains of Heiyanthuduwe Raja , the tusked elephant who carried the Sacred Relics Casket of Sri Dalada Maligawa from 1991 to 2000, is now exhibited in the Natural Science Museum.


A tusked elephant at the Kandy perahera

The tusks and skeletal remains were ceremoniously opened to be viewed by the public by National Heritage Minister Jagath Balasuriya recently.

Heiyanthuduwe Raja has carried the Sacred Relics of several prominent temples in the country including the Kelani temple. It was owned by Hendri Gunasekera.

“The target of the National Heritage Ministry is to protect the heritage of this country,” National Heritage Minister Jagath Balasuriya said.

“Individuals, who have cultural objects of value tend to sell it for large sums of money to foreign countries. But Gunasekera acknowledging the value of such items, has bestowed it on the public to be preserved for future generations,” said the minister.

“This is highly commendable. If he had sold the two tusks, he would have been able to get about Rs 20 million,” the minister added.

Heiyanthuduwe Raja , when it was little, was captured in the Kattakaduwana forest in 1945 and sold in an auction in Hambantota Kachcheri for Rs 10,500. The baby elephant was bought by W E R Gunasekera, the father of Hendri Gunasekera.

According to his last will, Heiyanthuduwe Raja was handed over to his son Hendri Gunasekera. The elephant died at Dodamwa in Kandy on November 6, 2002. Hendri Gunasekera handed over Heiyanthuduwe Raja's two tusks and skeleton to the National Museum in 2004.

Minister Athauda Senevirathna, Southern Province Governor Kumari Balasuriya, National Heritage Ministry Secretary Nanda Wickramasinghe, National Museum acting Director Saroja Weththasinghe, Archaeology Director General Senerath Dissanayake, Hendri Gunasekera and his family participated in the ceremony.

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