04th October 2021 06:52:12 Hours
Scores of flag-carrying representative Officers and Other Ranks of the Army Sunday (3) afternoon joined devotees at Kataragama Kirivehera and Devala precincts where the symbolic Army flag blessing ceremony on account of the forthcoming 72nd Army Anniversary and the Army Day (10 October) took place with the participation of General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army and a host of Senior Officers and Other Ranks.
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 'Kapruka' Pooja around the pagoda as all joined together to conduct the Gilanpasa Pooja after lighting 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 flowers was afterwards offered to the Mahasen Devalaya before colourful flag-bearers lined up again to proceed to the Kataragama Devalaya precincts for religious observances. General Shavendra Silva on the same occasion presented a financial contribution towards the development of the sacred place of historic value as a symbolic gesture of veneration. Ven Kobawaka Dhammindha Thera, Incumbent, Kirivehera accepted the donation.
The procession, composed of Army flag bearers and 'Hevisi' groups wended its way to the premises where the flags were symbolically accepted by 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 to the inner chamber of the Devalaya. Another financial donation for development of the sacred place was also handed over to the Basnayake Nilame of the Devalaya 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 Priyantha Perera, Chief of Staff, Major General Sampath Kotuwegoda, Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Sena Waduge, Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, Major General Sanjaya Wanasinghe, Adjutant General, et al.
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.