07th October 2016 19:47:46 Hours
Hundreds of flag-carrying representative Officers and Other Rankers of the Army Friday (7) evening joined devotees at Kataragama Kirivehera and Devala precincts where the symbolic Army flag blessing ceremony on account of the forthcoming 67th Army Anniversary and the Army Day took place with the participation of the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva and a host of Senior Officers and Other Rankers.
Flags of all Army Regiments, Security Force Headquarters, Training Schools, Divisions, Brigades, formations and units that were taken thrice round the Kirivehera Stupa in devotion, preceded by Army drummers before they were placed in a special float for invocation of blessings. At the same time, a section of the attendees took part in the special Kapruk Pooja around the pagoda as all joined together to conduct the Gilanpasa Pooja after lighting 1518 coconut oil lamps in the premises.
After the Kirivehera incumbent monk performed religious rites, the day’s Chief Guest offered Pirikara to members of the Maha Sangha, and a special Pooja with garlands of white lotus was afterwards offered to the Mahasen Devalaya before colourful flag-bearers lined up again to proceed to the Kataragama Devala precincts for religious observances. Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva on the same occasion presented a financial contribution towards the development of the place as a symbolic gesture of veneration. Ven Kobawaka Dhammindha Thera, Incumbent, Kirivehera 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 the 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, attended by a host of Senior Officers, including Major General Channa Goonetilleke, Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force.
The elaborate event, conducted as another wing 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.