In a few days time, Sri Lanka Army that triumphed over brutal terrorism, sending shock waves across the globe, perhaps as the one and only to have done so, having carved a niche for itself in the world military history, reaches 65 years in age on October 10.
The series of special religious observances, the precursor to the 65th anniversary and the Army Day (October 10), set off from Kandy Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) for the second time since the founding of the Army in 1949 after the incumbent Commander, added the practice of paying homage to the living relics ‘Sharreerika Dhathu’ of the Buddha, giving its due respect as per Buddhist principles.
Saturday (27) evening's ceremony at the most sacred Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy where all Army Flags were symbolically blessed and all War Heroes remembered, invoking blessings and transferring merits, began seconds after the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake arrived at the Maligawa premises.
Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake who attaches the highest degree of reverence to the Sri Dalada Maligawa where the most sacred relics (sharreerika, paribogika, uddesika) as living monuments of the Buddha and his disciples, are enshrined and devotionally preserved with due veneration while adhering to age-old rites and rituals, was instrumental in selecting this sacred place as the first place for offerings.
Saturday's first segment of the programme got to a start with the Gilanpasa Pooja and the routine offerings, made by the Commander of the Army, amidst beating of drums (Shabda Pooja) for the regular 'Thewawa' of the Inner Chamber after the Commander and his retinue, was received by the lay custodian, the Diyawadana Nilame at the temple.
Colourful Army Flags, including the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, all Security Force Headquarters, Divisions, Brigades and Regiments across the country that symbolize the living memory, dignity of the organization and all the members that serve it, took the centre stage of attraction during the first leg of the ceremony after those flags were respectfully conducted in procession to the upper chamber and the Pathirippuwa (octagon) by representative officers of each unit while the Commander, carried the Army Flag for invocation of blessings after they were delivered to the monks in charge of the Thewawa.
The Commander and his representative retinue after offer of Gilampasa to the temple and listening to Seth Pirith, a memento plus a cash donation was offered to the sacred place, representing everyone in the Army. Afterwards the stage was set for the formal Anushasanawa (oration) of the most senior monk, attending the occasion. Offer of 'Pirikara' by the Commander to the preacher brought Saturday’s programme to an end.
On behalf of the Army, Major General Prasad Samarasinghe, Chief of Staff, Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe, Adjutant General, Major General Mano Perera, Commander, Security Force Headquarters - Central, Major General Lawrence Wickramasinghe, Deputy Commandant of the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force and a representative gathering of senior officers, took part in the ceremonies.
Soon after the Buddha Pooja, hundreds of those participating officers and all ranks listened to a special Dhamma sermon, delivered by Most Ven Dr Niyangoda Vijitha Sri Anu Nayake Thero of the Malwatte Chapter who extolled the noble services of the Army and wished well in its future endeavours. A Seth Pirith chanting blessed the Army around the same occasion.
Sixty five monks, headed by Most Ven Dr Niyangoda Vijitha Sri Anunayake Thero, Most Ven Galagama Aththadassi Anunayake Thero and Most Ven Dimbulkumbure Vimaladhamma Anunayake Thero attended the mammoth alms-giving ceremony at the Sri Dalada Maligawa Dharmasala (preaching hall) later on, in which merits and blessings were invoked respectively on fallen War Heroes and disable War Heroes for speedy recovery. A special 'Pen Wedeema' ritual recalled the bravery of fallen War Heroes as the stanza, 'Yatha Wari Vaha Pura......' began to rend the air. A brief oratory (anusasana), on behalf of all Thraiynikayaka (all three chapters) monks present and offer of 'Pirikara', culminated the first segment of the ceremonies in Kandy.