28th September 2023 08:15:22 Hours
The sacred Anuradhapura Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi precincts, sanctified by the planting of the sacred offshoot from India-based Sri Maha Ananda Bodhi turned impressively colourful as hundreds of representative Army personnel of all island-wide establishments on Wednesday (27) gathered there to invoking symbolic blessings on the forthcoming 74th Army Anniversary and the Army Day (10 October) as the inaugural religious segment of the anniversary programmes.
The veneration of the 'Pariboghika' relics at Anuradhapura Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi got to a start soon after Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage RWP RSP ndu, Commander of the Army as the Chief Guest for the occasion arrived at Anuradhapura.
In accordance with traditions, the Army Chief at first paid his respect to the Most Ven. Dr Pallegama Hemarathna Nayaka Thero, 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.
Rhythmic beats of traditional and auspicious drums, ‘Hevisi’ and ‘Magul Bera’ then reverberated as troops were standing on attention holding colour-rich flags of all establishments aloft. A 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 impressive dresses, remained lined up in the Welimaluwa (lower-layer) area 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, Divisions, all Forward Maintenance Areas, 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 at the foot of the sacred tree later on with a few more Officers.
Members of the Maha Sangha chanted ‘Seth Pirith’, sprinkled jasmine water around the foot of the sacred tree and invoked symbolic 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 Vikum Liyanage simultaneously laid jasmine and lotus flowers around the sacred Bodhiya and prayed for the well-being of the country’s indispensable protectors 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 the Chief Incumbent of the Lankarama Rajamaha Viharaya, Most Venerable Ralapanawe Dhammajothi Thero on the occasion.
Ven Eethalawetunuwewe Gnanathilake Thero, Incumbent of Ruwanweliseya, Ven Welihene Sobhitha Thero, Incumbent of Mirisawetiya Viharaya, Ven Kahalle Gnanarathana Incumbent of Thuparamaya, Ven Dr. Kallanchiye Rathana Thero, Incumbent of Abhayagiriya, Ven Nugathanne Pagnananda Thero, Incumbent of Jayanthi Viharaya and monks representing various temples participated in the religious programme.
In another gesture, a special cash donation for the development of the sacred place was then offered by the Commander to the Atamasthanadhipathi, Most Ven. Dr. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thero as a symbolic gesture of respect and appreciation the Army attaches toward the well-being of the Sangha fraternity and the development of the sacred place.
Soon after the religious observances, the Commander of the Army was invited to inaugurate the newly-erected special guard booth for conduct of physical checks on all persons, entering the sacred compound from the western gate in the premises. People's Bank has sponsored the construction of this new duty point, erected by own troops.
A representative gathering of Officers and Other Ranks were at this sacred living monument of the Enlightened One to attend the colourful and dignified inaugural flag-blessing ceremony of the Army that heralds the forthcoming 74th Army anniversary and the Army Day (Oct 10).
Chief of Staff, Commandant Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, Principal Staff Officers, Security Force Commanders, Directors, Senior Officers and several Officers joined during the ceremony.