07th November 2021 20:00:12 Hours
The first-ever 'Katina Cheevara' offering ceremony (Puja) in contemporary history at the historic Kuragala Raja Maha Vihara alias the Cave Temple at Kaltota, Balangoda got underway this morning (7) in conformity with ancient Buddhist traditions, headed by more than 200 buddhist monks and a gathering of devotees, including General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army and Mrs Sujeewa Nelson, President, Army Seva Vanitha Unit.
The manpower, technical and engineering expertise provided by the Army, consequent upon an invitation, made by Ven Waturakumbure Dhammaratana Thera, Incumbent for both Kuragala Monastery temple and Nelligala International Buddhist Centre to General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army about an year ago, enabled the complete renovation of this prehistoric archaeological reserve of the Buddhists as a place of reconciliation and harmony, harnessing the support of non-Buddhists, resident in adjacent areas.
The monastic tradition for offer of 'Katina' to Maha Sangha which is over 2500 years old is devotedly observed by Buddhists all over the world because it is an extraordinary opportunity to acquire merits once a year since the robes are presented to monks who have completed the three-month period of retreat, called 'Vas' season (period of rains).
Early morning on Sunday (7), a procession carrying the 'Katina Cheevaraya' with drummers, dancing groups, white-clad flag-bearers and sponsors of the arrangement wended its way to the main preaching hall atop the temple premises, accompanied by a gathering of devotees. Afterwards, it was devotedly handed to the day's chief layman, General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army who enabled his troops to completely renovate, restore and provide a facelift to this archaeological reserve at the invitation of the incumbent, Ven Waturakumbure Dhammaratana Thera who is also the incumbent at Nelligala International Buddhist Centre.
Soon after the offer of 'Heel Daana' (breakfast), 'Pirikara' donations were offered to the monks before a special 'Punyanumodanawa' (acknowledgement oration) was made by a prelate. After a senior monk administered religious observances, a prelate attending the ceremony made a brief 'Anushasana' and invoked blessings on all, associated with the two-day long 'Pinkama'. Over 200 members of the Maha Sangha afterwards at noon participated in the mammoth and landmark offer of the 'Katina Cheevaraya' ' to nominated monks after the 'Sangeeka Daana' was over. (See related story elsewhere)
During the ceremony, General Shavendra Silva was invited to immortalize the dedicated contribution of the Army personnel for revitalization of this historic sacred place by planting a 'Naa' sapling in the compound as a symbolic appreciation of their untiring efforts.
The ceremony formally began on Saturday (6) evening with the commencement of the overnight 'Pirith' chanting at the octagon (Pirith Mandapaya) inside the new preaching hall. The day's Chief Guest switched on the illuminations and offered 'Gilanpasa' to the Buddha. Afterwards, the relic casket was brought on head by the day's Chief Guest, General Shavendra Silva, together with the 'Piriven Poth Wahanse' (Pali canon with Sutta) before a formal invitation for chanting was made to the monks.
Earlier, Major General Sujeewa Senarath Yapa, Chairman, Army Buddhist Association and Commander, Security Forces-West offered a traditional tray of betel (Deheth Wattiya) to Ven Waturakumbure Dhammaratana Thera, Incumbent at this historic temple and invited him to deliver the ‘Dhamma’ sermon as part of the day’s programme.
The precursor to the main 'Katina' ceremony on Sunday (7), the string of religious programmes that took place on Saturday (6) included the 'Pahankanda Theruwan Vandanawa' ( Tribute to Triple Gem), Dharma sermons, Buddha Pooja and 'Chathumadura pooja'.
Members of the Maha Sangha, Hon Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, Governor for Sabaragamuwa, Mrs Sujeewa Nelson, President, Army Seva Vanitha Unit, Senior State officials, Senior Army Officers,Tri servicemen, Police Officers and a gathering of devotees were associated with Saturday (6) evening's segment of the 'Katina' ceremony and arrangements on Sunday (7). Health guidelines were followed by the attendees.