28th September 2019 18:27:45 Hours
Sri Lanka's much-sought service provider and the prime watchdog for defence of the motherland, the Sri Lanka Army with an unmatched record of gallantry and selfless sacrifices is to mature into be a septuagenarian in a few days, and the customary sequence of commemorative events to mark its 70th anniversary got to a start this morning (28) at Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of Tooth) in Kandy where inaugural offerings, alms-giving and the colourful flag-blessing ceremonies took place, headed by the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva as a precursor to the forthcoming Army Day (October 10).
The incumbent 23rd Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva as the Chief Guest carrying a tray of Jasmine flowers paid his respect to the inner chamber, together with ‘Muruthen’ and ‘Gilanpasa’ Puja offerings, amid beating of traditional drums at first before religious observances commenced as the first segment of the religious ceremony.
Soon after those traditional rites and ‘Thevava’ rituals of the day were over, the Commander on behalf of all in the Army, made a symbolic monetary donation to the Sri Dalada Maligawa at the Diyawadana Nilame’s office. Mr Pradeep Nilanga Dela, Diyawadana Nilame (DN) extending greetings on the anniversary accepted the gesture in the presence of representative Senior Officers of the Army at the DN’s office on the same occasion.
Afterwards, the day's Chief Guest joined the 'Sangeeka Daana' (alms-giving) to a total of 70 members of the Maha Sangha, led by Most Venerable Thibbotuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Mahanayake Thero of the Malwatte Chapter and Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Mahanayake Thero of the Asgiriya Chapter. Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva and senior representatives of the Army joined offering alms to members of the Maha Sangha at the Sri Dalada Maligawa hall for alms.
The Anushasanas (orations) of the monks invoked blessings on the organization and spoke high of the achievements that have been so far made by the Army for the betterment of the country as the organization that salvaged the country from a three-decade of blood-shed and recent violence. The symbolic 'Penwedeema' ritual towards the end of the alms-giving transferred merits to all fallen Army War Heroes and others who had served the organization since its founding in 1949. The morning segment ended with offer of 'Atapirikara' and other 'Pirikara' to members of the Maha Sangha by the Army Chief, SF Commanders, 11 Division General Officer Commanding and senior Officers.
The day’s second highlight in Kandy began this evening (28) soon after a representative gathering of All Ranks attending Kandy ceremonies formed up near the main gate to the Sri Dalada Maligawa with all Army flags, held in their hands as arrangements were set to conduct the symbolic Flag Blessing ceremony inside the inner chambers at the most sacred shrine.
Fluttering colourful Army Flags, including the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, all Security Force Headquarters, Forward Maintenance Areas, Divisions, Brigades, Regiments, Training Centres and formations across the country that add symbolic value to the living memory, dignity of the organization and all members serving each of those wings, took the centre-stage of attraction as those flags were taken respectfully in procession to the upper chamber and the 'Paththirippuwa' (octagon) of the Dalada Maligawa by representative Officers of each unit.
As the Head of the organization, the Commander of the Army carried the Sri Lanka Army Flag at the front of the procession for invocation of blessings.
Flags were subsequently delivered to the monks in charge of the 'Thevava' at the upper chamber where chanting of ‘Seth Pirith’ and conduct of religious observances invoked blessings on the Army’s long journey for defence of the country. Ven Walgowagoda Sri Medhankara Vimalabudhdhi Thero, the incumbent at Malwathu Vihara presided religious observances. A separate ‘Gilanpasa Pooja’ at the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the same evening (28) was patronized by the troops of the 11 Division Headquarters at Pallekele, Kandy.
Senior Officers including Major Genral Sathyapriya Liyanage, Chief of Staff, Major General Nirmal Dharmaratne, Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force and Major General Kumudu Perera, Deputy Chief of Staff, Officers and Other Rankers took part in the day’s ceremonies.