28th September 2020 23:29:43 Hours
The customary sequence of forthcoming 71st Army anniversary religious ceremonies, precursor to the colourful climax at Galle Face Green on the Army Day (10 October) commenced this morning (28) at Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of Tooth) in Kandy, attaching pride of place to inaugural offerings, alms-giving and the flag-blessing observances, graced by the Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva as the Chief Guest, together with representative Officers, Other Ranks and Civil Staffers.
The country's prime watchdog for defence of the motherland with an unmatched record of gallantry and selfless sacrifices, now engaged in a variety of multi-faceted national security and nation-building tasks of formidable nature was founded on 10 October 1949 as the Ceylon Army forming its first regular force under the command of Brigadier Roderick Sinclair, the Earl of Caithness through the Army Act No. 17 of 1949. Blossomed into a full-fledged Army during its life-span in the past 71 years, the Sri Lanka Army to-date had been effectively commanded by 22 Commanders, elevating the organization to impressive heights. Its expansion with 24 Regiments with combat arms, support arms and support service arms has won the hearts and minds of all ethnicities across the country as the most people-friendly security provider to all at the expense of their own lives.
The incumbent 23rd Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva on arrival at the sacred premises after offering a tray of Jasmine flowers to the relic chamber paid his respect to the inner chamber, together with ‘Muruthen’ and ‘Gilanpasa’ Puja offerings, amid beating of traditional drums at first before religious observances commenced as the first segment of the religious ceremony. Soon after those traditional rites and ‘Thevava’ rituals of the day were over, the Commander on behalf of all in the Army, made a symbolic monetary donation to the Sri Dalada Maligawa at the Diyawadana Nilame’s office. Mr Pradeep Nilanga Dela, Diyawadana Nilame (DN) extending greetings on the anniversary accepted the gesture in the presence of representative Senior Officers of the Army at the same occasion.
Afterwards, the day's Chief Guest joined the alms-giving (Sangeeka Daana) to a total of 71 members of the Maha Sangha, led by Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathanabhidana Mahanayake Thero of the Asgiriya Chapter. Several Anunayake Theros and leading monks, including Most Venerable Vendaruwe Dharmakeerthi Sri Rathanapala Upali Anunayake Thero, Most Venerable Anamaduwe Sri Dhammadassi Anunayake Thero, Most Venerable Dr Niyangoda Vijithasiri Anu Nayake Thero of Malwatte Chapter and Most Venerable Dimbulkumbure Sri Saranankara Wimaladhammabhidana Anu Nayake Thero were also associated with the alms-giving.
Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva and senior representatives of the Army joined offering alms to members of the Maha Sangha before orations, 'Anushasana' of the monks invoked blessings on the organization and spoke high of the achievements that have been hitherto made by the Army for the greater benefit of all Sri Lankans and betterment of the country as the organization that salvaged the country from a three-decade of blood-shed and recent violence. The symbolic 'Penwedeema' ritual towards the end of the alms-giving transferred merits to all fallen Army War Heroes and others who had served the organization since its founding in 1949. The morning segment ended offering 'Atapirikara' and other essentials to members of the Maha Sangha by the Army Chief, Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, Senior Officers and others.
The day’s second highlight in Kandy began this evening (28) soon after a representative gathering of All Ranks attending Kandy ceremonies formed up near the main gate to the Sri Dalada Maligawa with all Army flags, held in their hands as arrangements were set to conduct the symbolic Flag Blessing ceremony inside the inner chambers at the most sacred shrine.
Fluttering colourful Army flags, including the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, all Security Force Headquarters, Forward Maintenance Areas, Divisions, Brigades, Regiments, Training Centres and formations across the country that add symbolic value to the living memory, dignity of the organization and all members serving each of those wings, took the centre-stage of attraction as those flags were taken respectfully in procession to the upper chamber and the 'Paththirippuwa' (octagon) of the Dalada Maligawa by representative Officers of each unit.
As the Head of the organization, the Commander of the Army carried the Sri Lanka Army Flag at the front of the procession for invocation of blessings. Flags were subsequently delivered to the monks in charge of the 'Thevava' at the upper chamber where chanting of ‘Seth Pirith’ and conduct of religious observances invoked blessings on the Army’s long journey for defence of the country.
Most Venerable Anamaduwe Dhammadassi Anunayake Thero, Venerable Arambegama Saranankara Nayaka Thero and Venerable Kumbukkandanwala Pungnaratana Nayaka Thero of Malwatte chapter meanwhile led religious observances in a separate ‘Gilanpasa Pooja’ to bless the Army at the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the same evening (28), patronized by 11 Division Headquarters troops in Pallekele, Kandy.
Senior Officers including Major General Jagath Gunawardene, Chief of Staff, Major General Ruwan Wanigasooriya, Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, Major General Rasika Fernando, Deputy Chief of Staff, Principal Staff Officers, Officers and Other Rankers took part in the day’s main ceremonies.