04th October 2020 00:31:06 Hours
The chain of religious blessing ceremonies, the forerunner to the forthcoming Army Day and 71st Army Anniversary (10 October) had one more major segment, held on a grand scale at the most sacred Anuradhapura ‘Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi’ precincts this morning (30), graced by hundreds of representative Army personnel, led by Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army as the Chief Guest for the occasion.
The day's sequence of commemorative anniversary events got to a start soon after Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva arrived at the premises. At first, he paid his respect to Most Ven. Dr Pallegama Sirinivasa Nayaka Thero, Sangha Nayake for North Central Province and the Chief Incumbent for all eight places of worship (Atamasthandhipathi) at the 'Sanghawasaya' (residential monastery) and formally invited him to lead the religious performances at the Udamaluwa (upper layer) by offering the symbolic tray of betel (Deheth Wattiya) and ‘Atapirikara’ to the monk.
As the stage was set to start the annual Flag Blessing ceremony, rhythmic beats of traditional and auspicious drums, ‘Hevisi’ and ‘Magul Bera’ commenced reverberating while troops stood on attention holding flags aloft. A colourful pageant after a while accompanied saffron-clad monks to the Udamaluwa for religious performances as hundreds of Army soldiers-turned flag-bearers, attired in formal glittering dresses, remained lined up in the Welimaluwa (lower-layer) precincts before all Army flags were taken to the upper layer for the 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 around the Weli Maluwa (lower layer) thrice before those flags were accepted by Senior Officers, awaiting at the Meda Maluwa (middle layer). The Commander afterwards respectfully laid the flags around the sacred tree later on with a few more Officers.
Afterwards, members of the Maha Sangha chanted ‘Seth Pirith’, sprinkled jasmine water around the foot of the sacred tree and invoked blessings on all Army Flags that had been earlier handed to the Commander of the Army by those flag-bearers before the observances commenced.
Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva simultaneously laid jasmine and lotus flowers around the foot of the sacred Bodhiya and prayed for the well-being of the country’s indispensable guardians of the Nation and all those serving it. Members of the Maha Sangha extolled the Army’s contribution and dedication towards the motherland in special ‘Anushasana’ (orations) delivered by two Nayake Theras on the occasion. In his special 'Anushasana' (oration), Ven Ralapanawe Dhamma Jothi, Chief Incumbent, Lankarama, recalled the memories on the incumbent Army Chief’s dedicated service to the Nation when the LTTE terrorism was at its peak as well as his invaluable commitment towards prevention of COVID-19 in the country.
Ven Dr Pallegama Hemaratana Nayake Thera, Viharadhikari at Ruwanweliseya, Ven. Nugathenne Pangnananda Nayaka Thero, Chief Incumbent at Sri Jayanthi Viharaya, Ven. Eethalawetunuwewe Gnanathilake Thero, Incumbent, Miriswetiya and monks representing eight places of worship participated in the religious programme.
In another gesture, a special cash donation for development of the sacred place was then offered by the Commander to the Atamasthanadhipathi, Most Ven. Dr. Pallegama Sirinivasa Nayaka Thero as a symbolic gesture of respect and appreciation the Army attaches towards the well-being of the Sangha fraternity and development of the sacred place.
A representative gathering of Officers and Other Rankers were at this sacred living monument of the Enlightened One to attend the colourful and dignified second flag-blessing ceremony of the Army that heralds the forthcoming 71st Army anniversary and the Army Day (Oct 10).
Chief of Staff, Commandant Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, Deputy Chief of Staff, Adjutant General, Commanders of Security Forces, all Principal Staff Officers, Commandants, General Officers Commanding, Brigade Commanders, Commanding Officers and a representative gathering of Senior Officers were present during the ceremony.
The traditional and colourful Flag Blessing ceremony at Anuradhapura Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi preceded last Monday’s religious performances at the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. The third Buddhist ceremony on October 5 at Kataragama, Kirivehera as well as Christian, Islamic and Hindu ceremonies afterwards culminate religious segment in the anniversary arrangement before the climax of the ceremonies takes place at Galle Face Green on the Army Day where HE the President is scheduled to grace as the Chief Guest.
The Army, raised in October 1949, now as the country’s most formidable land force to be reckoned with is comprised of 24 regiments, including volunteer ones, and currently engaged in a multiplicity of nation-building development projects after its landmark victory over terrorism in the year 2009. (Await more photos)