09th October 2021 22:00:59 Hours
The final segment of the Flag-Blessing ceremony on account of the 72nd Army anniversary and the Army Day (Oct 10) got underway at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya, Anuradhapura this morning (9) amid reverberating rhythmic beats of traditional and auspicious drums, ‘Hevisi’ and ‘Magul Bera’ and a representative gathering of Officers and Other Ranks, headed by General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army.
The day’s religious ceremony began after the arrival of the Chief Guest, General Shavendra Silva at the sacred premises. He first paid his obeisance to Ven. Pallegama Sirinivasabhidhana Nayake Thera, Chief Incumbent for all eight places of worship 'Atamasthanadhipathi' in his 'Awasageya' (residential monastery) and offered a symbolic 'Pirikara' and a tray of fruits inviting him formally to perform anniversary blessings, together with other members of the Maha Sangha.
After a while, rhythmic beats of traditional and auspicious drums and dancers conducted the monks to the Udamaluwa in a colourful pageant. Hundreds of Army soldiers-turned flag bearers, attired in formal glittering dresses, representative of the organization and respective regiments, lined up inside the Welimaluwa (lower layer) precincts afterwards before all Army flags were taken to the Udamaluwa (upper layer) for symbolic invocation of blessings.
The customary spectacle, as has been the practice, began after 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 taken for blessings in this way around the Weli Maluwa (lower layer) thrice before those flags were accepted by Senior Officers, awaiting at the Meda Maluwa (middle layer). As the ceremony set in, members of the Maha Sangha chanted 'Seth Pirith' and invoked blessings on all Army Flags that were symbolically handed over to the Army Commander by representative flag-bearers. The Commander afterwards respectfully laid Army flags around the sacred tree amidst reverberating beating of traditional drums.
General Shavendra Silva laid Jasmine and lotus flowers around the foot of the sacred tree and prayed for the well-being of the indispensable guardians of the Nation serving in the Army. Members of the Maha Sangha praised the Army’s contribution and dedication towards the motherland in special 'Anushasana' (oratories), made by monks and sought divine blessings on the Army and its forward-march.
As a symbolic gesture of respect and appreciation towards the well-being of the 'Sangha' fraternity and development of the sacred place, General Shavendra Silva on behalf of all in the Army after a while made a special cash donation of Rs 01 million towards development of the sacred place. Ven Pallegama Sirinivasabhidhana Nayake Thera, the Incumbent of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya accepted the gesture.
Giving further significance and prominence to the 72nd Army Anniversary and leaving memories, General Shavendra Silva planted a sapling of a 'Naa' (Ironwood) in the premises, adjacent to the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya as a special feature of the day's itinerary.
Major General Priyantha Perera, Chief of Staff, Major General Sampath Kotuwegoda, Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Vikum Liyanage, Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, Senior Officers, Commander of Security Forces Wanni, all Principal Staff Officers, Commanders of Security Force Headquarters, Commandants, formation Commanders, General Officers Commanding, Brigade Commanders, Commanding Officers and a gathering of other Senior Officers were present during the ceremony.
The traditional and colourful Flag-Blessing ceremony at Anuradhapura Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi precincts preceded Flag-Blessing ceremonies at Kandy Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kataragama, Kirivehera, 'Pirith' chanting and offer of alms at the Army HQ as well as Christian, Islamic and Hindu ceremonies as has been the practice in the Army on conduct of anniversary ceremonies.
The Army, raised in October 1949 as the country’s most formidable land force to be reckoned with, is comprised of 25 regiments, including volunteer ones, and is currently engaged in a multiplicity of nation-building development projects and Covid -19 programmes after its landmark victory over terrorism in the year 2009.