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Bellanwila Esala Pageant reaches climax

11 August 2018 12:00 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Bellanwila Esala festival began in earnest in the year 1950

 

The commemoration of the Esala phenomenon has paved the way for both Buddhists and Hindus, alike to recall the spiritual significance, attached to multiple forms of veneration, pageants (Perahera) and Poojas in Sri Lanka.   


For Buddhists, the great renunciation of Prince Siddhartha in search of truth, the conduct of Buddha’s first Dhammachakka Pavatta Sutta discourse, Conception of Prince Siddhartha in Queen Mahamaya Devi’s womb, Performance of twin miracles (Yamaka Maha Prathiharaya), Preaching of Abhidhamma to Gods in Thavuthisa heaven, First local ordination of the first Sri Lankan into monkhood at Anuradhapura, Foundation-laying for Ruwanweli Seya and its enshrinement of relics, the great revival of Theravada Buddhist reformation at Malwathu Viharaya and a few other milestone events in the Buddhist calendar necessitate the Buddhists to recall those sacred memories with devotion and veneration.  


More significantly, the Esala Full Moon Poya assumes prominence since it is the onset of the rainy retreat of the monks, popularly called the ‘Vas’ season. It is owing to this combination of landmark commemorative events that the Buddhists are used to fittingly observe this day ceremonially, holding largely the ‘Perahera’, giving pride of place to the historic Sri Dalada Perahera in Kandy. In fact, legends also speak of how the sacred Tooth Relic was also placed for veneration in Kandy on an Esala Full Moon Day.   


In parallel with the great spectacle in the hill country, many leading Buddhist places of worship across the island are in the practice of holding colourful pageants with regalia, hundreds of dances and caparisoned tuskers and decorated floats. Of them, Kataragama, Devinuwara, Aluth Nuwara, Bellanwila and Kotte pageants take pride of place since those cultural processions are of grand nature and are crowd-pullers.   


Bellanwila Esala festival began in earnest in the year 1950 as a form of offering to the Buddha and deities in response to an unfortunate cattle epidemic that pervaded Bellanwila and its suburbs. Late Ven Bellanwila Sri Somarathana Nayake Thera, the Incumbent at Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya at that time, was very much disturbed about what was going on in the area and summoned all victims to the temple where a sacred sapling of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya remains planted for generations.   


This far-sighted monk conducted minor processions for three days round the temple and made special offerings to the Bodhiya pleading for immediate end to this tragedy and urging the God Vishnu to bless the village for eradication of this epidemic. Surprisingly, his offerings with villagers worked well and the situation dramatically improved to the satisfaction of the villagers. That was the initiating onset of the Esala Perahara festival at Bellanwila, which has now grown to be one of the mammoth Esala spectacles in the country. 


Bellanwila Esala Perahera festival in 2018 is organised by Ven Dr. Bellanwila Dhammaratana Nayake Thero, Incumbent at Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya. We would be failing in our duties if we don’t recall the name of the one time Chief Sangha Nayake of Singapore  Ven Prof Bellanwila Wimalaratana Anu Nayake Thera who died under tragic circumstances in February this year.   


 The festival began after planting the symbolic Kap on August 1 and the conduct of Dorakada Ashna Anushasana and the Deva Dutha Perahera which again invoked blessings of the Triple Gem on all Sri Lankans and people at large.   


 This year, the Pawada Perahera took place on August 9 (Thursday) amid a huge gathering of devotees. 


The Ransivili Perahera that parades round the Bellanwila village, reminding the villagers of ancient practices took place on August 10 (Friday10) with the participation of many dancing troupes and elephants. The climax of the festival, Randoli Maha Perahera, will be held on August 11 (Saturday).


The incumbent, Ven Bellanwila Dhammaratana Nayake Thera, dedicated has decided to add several new features to the Perahera, this year. 


Bellanwila Esala Festival culminates on August 12 (Sunday) with the ancient water-cutting ritual. 

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  • Amarendra Sri Chandragupta Saturday, 11 August 2018 11:03 PM

    The Bellanwila Esala pageant gives great delight to all Buddhists in the Dehiwala and Mount Lavinia areas and has been a part of the lives for of the people of the area for years. May both Ven Bellanwila Sri Somarathana nayake thera and Ven Prof Bellanwila Wimalaratana anu nayake thera attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.


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