02nd October 2017 17:12:48 Hours
The second main religious flag blessing ceremony in connection with the forthcoming 68th Army anniversary and the Army Day (Oct 10) got underway at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, Anuradhapura this morning (2) amid a representative gathering of Officers and Other Rankers, headed by none other than the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake.
Hundreds of Army soldiers-turned flag-bearers, attired in formal glittering dresses, representative of the entire organization, lined up inside the Welimaluwa (lower layer) precincts this morning (2) before all Army flags were taken to the Udamaluwa (upper layer) for symbolic invocation of blessings. As rhythmic beats of traditional and auspicious drums, Hevisi and Magul Bera, were echoing around the most sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi precincts, a colourful pageant a little later conducted the monks to the Udamaluwa.
Amid reverberating beating of traditional drums, members of the Maha Sangha chanted Seth Pirith and invoked blessings on all Army Flags that were symbolically handed to the Commander of the Army by those flag-bearers after a while.
Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake simultaneously laid Jasmine and lotus flowers around the foot of the sacred tree and prayed for the well-being of the country’s indispensable guardians of the nation and all serving it. Members of the Maha Sangha extolled the Army’s contribution and dedication towards the motherland in special Anushasana (oratories), made by two Nayake Theros on the occasion.
As has been the practice, all the Army Flags, representing the Army Headquarters, the Volunteer Force Headquarters, all Security Force Headquarters, all Forward Maintenance Areas, Divisions, Brigades, Regiments, Units and Army Training Schools, were blessed after they were taken in the colourful procession around the Weli Maluwa (lower layer) thrice before those flags were accepted by Senior Officers, awaiting at the Meda Maluwa (middle layer). The Commander respectfully laid the flags around the sacred tree later on.
In another gesture, a special cash donation of Rs 1 million for development of the sacred place was then offered by the Commander to Ven Pallegama Siriniwasabhidhana Nayake Thero, the Atamasthanadhipathi and the Incumbent Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya as a symbolic gesture of appreciation towards its significant and the well-being of the Sangha fraternity after the main ceremony.
The day’s religious ceremony set off after the arrival of the Chief Guest, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army in the sacred premises. Prior to the offerings proper, the Commander paid his obeisance to Ven Pallegama Siriniwasabhidhana Nayake Thero, the Atamasthanadhipathi in his Awasageya (residential monastery) and offered a traditional Pirikara and a tray of fruits inviting him formally to perform anniversary blessings, together with other members of the Maha Sangha. Ven Nugatenne Pannananda Nayake Thero, Incumbent, Sri Jayanthi Viharaya and Ven Ralapanave Rathanajothi Nayake Thero, Incumbent, Lankaramaya led religious observances and made brief orations.
Chief of Staff of the Army, Deputy Chief of Staff, Director General General Staff, Adjutant General, Senior Officers of the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, Commander, Security Forces Wanni, all Principal Staff Officers, Commanders-Security Force Headquarters, Commandants, formation Commanders, General Officers Commanding, Brigade Commanders, Commanding Officers and a gathering of Senior Officers were present during the ceremony.
Soon after the main ceremonies at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi were over, the Commander and participating officers went to the wellness resort, ‘Abimansala - 1’ at Anuradhapura where some 35 dependent War Heroes are receiving rehabilitation and recuperation. The visitors inquired into their well-being, gave gift parcels and sat together with them for a fellow-lunch as one more segment of the day’s events, symbolic of their concern towards those differently able War Heroes.
Before his departure from Anuradapura, Commander of the Army made a visit to the construction site of the ‘Sanda Hiru Seya’ Pagoda (Dagoba) and inquired into its progress. He also did not forget to leave memories in the premises by planting a Naa sapling in the sacred place.
The traditional and colourful Flag Blessing ceremony at Anuradhapura Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi preceded last Thursday’s religious performances at Sri Dalada Maligawa. The third Buddhist ceremony on October 6 at Kataragama, Kirivehera and Panagoda ceremonies on October 8-9 culminates religious ceremonies. In addition, three other religious services, Poojas and prayers have been planned at All Saints’ Church, Jumma Mosque and Sri Ponnampalam Vaneshwar Kovil on account of the forthcoming Army anniversary.
The Army, raised in October 1949 as the country’s most formidable land force to be reckoned with, is comprised of 24 regiments, including volunteer ones, and engaged in a multiplicity of nation-building development projects after its landmark victory over terrorism in the year 2009.