07th October 2017 09:11:20 Hours
Hundreds of flag-carrying representative Officers and Other Rankers of the Army Friday (6) evening joined devotees at Kataragama Kirivehera and Devala precincts where the symbolic Army flag blessing ceremony on account of the forthcoming 68th Army Anniversary Day (Oct 10) took place.
Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Major General Amal Karunasekara, Chief of Staff of the Army and a host of Senior Officers and Other Rankers were among distinguished devotees.
Army flag, Volunteer Force Headquarters flag, flags of all Security Force Headquarters, Divisions, Brigades, formations, Regiments, Training Schools and units were taken thrice round the Kirivehera Stupa in devotion, preceded by Army drummers before the flags were placed in a special float for invocation of blessings.
Simultaneously, a section of the attendees took part in the special ‘Kapruk Pooja’ (offerings) around the Pagoda as all lined-up together to conduct the ‘Gilanpasa Pooja’ after lighting 1500 coconut oil lamps in the premises.
After the Kirivehera incumbent monk, Ven Thalagala Gnanendra Thera performed religious rites, the day’s Chief Guest offered Pirikara to members of the Maha Sangha.
Seconds later, a special Pooja with garlands of white lotus was offered to the Mahasen Devalaya before colourful flag-bearers lined up again to proceed to the Kataragama Devala precincts for religious observances.
Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake on the same occasion presented a financial contribution towards the development of the place as a symbolic gesture of veneration. Ven Thalagala Gnanendra Thera, Prelate of Kirivehera Rajamaha Viharaya accepted the donation.
The procession, comprised of Army flag bearers and Hevisi groups wended its way to the premises where the flags were symbolically accepted by Senior Officers to be given to the Commander of the Army as the Chief Guest to the occasion. Religious observances at the ‘Ashtapalabodhiya’ in the premises saw the Commander of the Army offering ‘Atapirikara’ to the sacred tree.
As the Thewava (regular offering) of the Devalaya got underway, the Commander delivered the flags for invocation of blessings inside the inner chamber of the Devalaya. Before the offerings were made, another cash donation for development of the sacred place was also handed over to the Basnayake Nilame, D.P Kumarage by the Commander of the Army as a gesture of veneration to the place.
Distribution of the special ‘Muruthen Pooja’ afterwards at the Devalaya premises culminated the day’s event.
As the final segment of the Day’s ceremony, the Commander of the Army, together with other Senior Officers conducted the traditional ritual of coconut dashing in front of the main Devalaya.
The elaborate event, held as another segment of the religious ceremonies, prior to the Army Day (Oct 10) symbolizes the deep veneration the Army has towards the Buddha’s Uddesika relics which are believed to have been enshrined in the Kirivehera, built by the famous king Mahasen after the Buddha paused here during His 3rd visit to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC.