Maha Kumbhabhishekham of Kandy Pillaiyar Kovil held on May 10
The Maha Kumbhabhishekham of the Kattukale Sri Selva Vinayagar Temple (Lord Ganesh) was held recently and ended on May 10 with many Indian Hindu Priests specializing in Kumbhabhishekham rituals officiating at the ceremony.
“Kumbhabhishekham, also known as Samprokshanam is a Hindu temple ritual that is believed to homogenize, synergize and unite the mystic powers of the deity. Kumbha means the Head and denotes the Shikhara or Crown of the Temple (usually in the Gopuram) and Abhisekham or Prokshanam is ritual bathing. Kumbhabhishekham is widely celebrated as a festival in South India.
“On the appointed day and at an auspicious time, the Kumbha is bathed with the charged and sanctified holy waters in the sacrificial pot and, by a mystic process, these puranic powers trickle down a silver wire and enter the deity installed inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The deity, which was until then only a granite sculptured stone image, is believed to transform into a vibrant and vivid living representation of the deva with innate beatitude, grace and grandeur, conferring divine blessings on all devotees,” a Wikipedia entry explains.
The Kumbhabhishekham is held every 12 years to revive the temple. It’s a re-consecration ritual held every twelve years.
About forty priests from India who are well versed with Kumbhabhishekham rituals officiated at this great ritual at the Kandy Selva Vinyagar Kovil, popularly known as Ganadevi Kovil.
This Kovil is linked to the Sri Dalada Maligawa as well. During the temple Chariot Festival, the procession visits Sri Dalada Maligawa. Also on the last night of the Kandy Esala Perahera, representatives from the Kovil visit Sri Dalada Maligawa and pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic led by the Diyawadana Nilame.
With the establishment of the Kovil in 1840, which was founded by Natu Kotta Chettiar, the Esala Procession from Getambe stops at this Kovil in the early hours of the morning and then proceeded to the Devales in time for the midday rituals.
With the annexation of the Sri Dalada Maligawa Perahera, with the bringing of Upasampada to the country and with the intervention of Upali Maha Thera from Thailand, the Sacred Tooth Relic was taken in procession (not now) and the Devale Perahera’s joined the Esala Maha Perahera.
Then the water cutting took another turn and the Perahera proceeding from Getambe after the water cutting ceremony, came up to the Kovil of God Ganesh and also of God Siva and Parvati and waited till afternoon to join the Esala Maha Perahera coming from Adhana Maluwa, which is the Temple where the Golden Karanduwa rests for the night on the last night of the Perahera.
"Chettiar’s were a driving force in the Kandyan Kingdom after the British annexed the Kingdom to the British Empire. The Chettiars came to Sri Lanka to trade with the people of the country and they found Kandy a congenial place, due to its surroundings and the climate"
So, the connection with the Kandy Esala Perahera with the Selva Vinayagar Temple continues as the Kings of Kandy including King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe were a Hindu by birth and this forms the link between Hindus and Buddhists.
The coming of the Community of Chettiars from India brought about a transformation in the Hindu rites as well in the Kandyan areas.
The Chettiar Community was a driving force in the Kandyan Kingdom after the British annexed the Kingdom to the British Empire. The Chettiars came to Sri Lanka to trade with the people of the country and they found Kandy a congenial place, due to its surroundings and the climate. But unfortunately, they had no place for worship.
As things turned out to be they used to bathe in a pool with the common folk of Kandy in the present Kattukale. Kattukale denotes that it was shrub jungle. The pool, as usual, consisted of stones for dashing clothes for washing and one, in particular, was a stone highly polished, which people claimed because of years of dashing cloths it had become finely polished.
A Chettiar, who was there due to curiosity turned the rock stone one day and found that it was a statue of God Ganesh.
He turned the rock stone back without any fuss and brought it to the notice the British authorities to seek their permission to build a place of worship and move the deity to the shrine, which they intended to build.
This was allowed and the Chettiars built a shrine at the very place where today stands the Selva Vinayagar Kovil.
According to another legend Lord Ganesh himself appeared in the dream of the Chettiar and told him;
“A laundryman is beating be merciless on my back on a daily basis and has given the details. On the following morning, the Chettiar had gone to the spot to find the Pillaiyar statue.
The Kovil came into existence in 1840 - 180 years ago and over the weekend the fourth day of the Maha Kumbhabhishekham ritual was performed after it was rehabilitated after a week-long ritual.
This Kovil is a private institution which is claimed by the Chettiars coming down the generations from father to son through a hereditary flow of ownership.
The Chettiars came from a clan of Natu Kotte Chettiars. The first been Napan Chettiar. He had two wives and there was a son of ten years old.
In 1938 a Trust was formed to manage the temple. Today a Committee of devotees administer the Kovil.
They are namely V. Krishnamurthy, Mohan Nagalingam, Siva Subramanium, and P. Palaniappan.
There is also a lawsuit over the administration at the moment. But it is managed by a Committee of Devotees at the moment.
Maligawa-Hindu Temple Connection
- "The Priest walks into the water and immerses himself with the goblet of water and brings out new water from the bed of the river"
- "The connection with the Kandy Esala Perahera with the Selva Vinayagar Temple continues as the Kings of Kandy including King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe were a Hindu by birth"
Former Maligawa Diyawadana Nilame Nerajan Wijeyeratne, who served the Maligawa for twenty years there had been a custom of Pillaiyar Temple Representatives visiting the Sri Dalada Maligawa on the last night of the Perahera. However, after the conflict, it had been dropped.
The Esala Perahera also stops at the Temple on its way to Getambe
The custom was revived in 1975 when Dr Nissnaka Wijerane (Father of Neranjan) was in office as the Diyawadana Nilame. At the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Vinayagar Temple Priest held a special pooja at the point where the Golden Karanduwa is placed on the Tusker, to bless the Tusker on his night journey. However, this was continued.
But, after the establishment of the first Devale of Natha - the future Buddha, in Senkadagalapura or Kandy as it is called now, a Peraheras or procession had been held for God Natha, with a water cutting ceremony at Getambe, which had a ferry to cross from Gannoruwa or Yatinuwara to Kandy.
There is a difference of the water cutting ceremony of the Kandy Devales from the rest of the Devales in the country. In this case, the Priest of the temple walks into the water and immerses himself with the Goblet of water and brings out new water from the bed of the river. Though now the original place of the water cutting ceremony had been changed.
Then the second Devale to be established, in the Kandyan Kingdom was Maha Vishnu Devale.
The deities were brought down from Aluthnuwara Devale by King Senerat. Aluthnuwara Devale is situated off the Colombo- Kandy Road, turning off at Hingula.
King Senarat found that the Portuguese used to plunder the Devale and its environs at Aluthnuwara seeking entry into the
So, King Senerat brought down the deities of God Vishnu and that of Queen Suneathra Devi to Kandy and established the present Devale close to Sri Dalada Maligawa.
But according to records Queen Sunethra Devi was sent to Hanguraneta and whether it is still in that Devale is not known.
Then, the other two Devales of God Kataragama and that of Goddess Pathini were established.
With the addition, the processions or Perahera’s commenced parading during August festivities around Palace Square.
At the conclusion of the Perahera’s, the Perahera’s wended its way to Getambe Ferry and brought out new water in their goblets and made their way to their respective Devales.