12th July 2018 18:03:17 Hours
The final phase of the ‘Paada Yathra’ (foot pilgrimage) of hundreds of northern and eastern devotees, now wending its way across the Yala sanctuary, to the south-east of Kataragama was witnessed by Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army on Wednesday (11) when he made a surprise visit to Parana Thotupala, Katupila Ara, Lin Thuna and Palatupana locations where Army personnel are engaged in providing facilities to them.
Accompanied by Mr Dilruwan Rajapaksha, Basnayake Nilame, Kataragama Devalaya, Major General Rukmal Dias, Commander, Security Forces – Central and Major General N. D Wanniarachchi, General Officer Commanding, 12 Division, the Commander at first visited Parana Thotupala area and received those exhausted pilgrims warmly and treated them to oranges, fruits, refreshments and bottled water. Afterwards, the Commander made his way to Katupila Ara and Lin Thuna locations where Army troops had put up temporary shelters for those moving pilgrims for rest and recreation.
At Palatupana, 23 Gajaba Regiment troops had made elaborate arrangements to provide the pilgrims with lunch as it was the midday for pilgrims, amid scorching sunlight. Showing his warmth and fellowship with the devotees, the Commander of the Army also sat with pilgrims and enjoyed the lunch treat while sharing a couple of views with them, where a group of media personnel had also turned up for coverage of the pilgrimage.
“This unique foot pilgrimage to Kataragama symbolizes the importance of bonds of goodwill that prevail among all ethnicities in this country. It certainly carries a strong message to the other side of the world, saying that Sri Lanka is a country committed to the notion of reconciliation and ethnic harmony. The Army would not only provide security, but also will contribute to the promotion of ethnic harmony and reconciliation,” the Commander was quoted, having quipped to media personnel at that occasion.
Colonel Udaya Kumara, Military Assistant to the Commander of the Army was also associated with the Commander’s visit to the Yala sanctuary.