The 50th annual Esala Festival of Seenigama Devalaya in the Southern coastal belt commenced on July 25 at 10.05 am after planting kap. This sacred place was situated earlier on the mainland and today it is situated 300 metres away from the mainland in the sea due to severe sea erosion.
The history of this Devalaya tutelary by Sri Devol Maha Devindu goes to a very long time to the past. It is before the arrival of Prince Vijaya. This period happened during the time of Gauthama Buddha. A group of Gods arrived at the Ferry of Seenigama and there was a lady in this ferry as a leader. She was a lady who protected the chastity and people paid their homage from those days. This is called one stage of Paththini Mani who was worshipped by the people from the time of King Gajaba. It is confirmed according to tales about Paththini Mani, there was a Devol Devalaya till the arrival of Prince Devol.
It is said that the Seenigama Paththini Devalaya is the oldest Devalaya in the Ruhunu area in Sri Lanka. It was very clear that it was called pure Seenigama by past poets. Devol god invaded the place of Paththini and it was the centre of the place where he spread his fame. There are people who believe that the Devol is coming from the generation of Ravana.
Sri Vishnu, Kataragama and Dedimunda had come to Seenigama and had met the Paththini Devi and requested to permit Devol Sami to enter the island. But Paththini Mani thought of checking him as she had some fear about him. When the Devol Sami was near the beach and requested “My sister, please permit me to enter”. Nevertheless, there was an elder sister to Devol in his previous birth and he was given the name of Devol by Sakdevindu.
The ancient books indicated that Paththini Devi went to Nawagamuwa for settlement with her golden anklet though she terrified Prince Devol by showing her power of chastity by stamping her right foot seven times and created seven volcanoes. Due to his previous merits, he could have averted them.
Sub-King Seraman suffered severe headaches and obtained relief by doing certain rituals for seven days called “Paththini Kolmura” and even today it is used in this oblation.
‘Seraman Rajahata – Dama ginidel ledakota Kara kovilak mata – dunnoth hondavevi hanikata’
Pundit Wasudeva who took over the state after King Vijaya suffered an incurable disease. The blessing was given to him by King Malaya together with help of sages by chanting charms. Even today there is a ritual called “Shanthi Poojava” in Devol Maha Perehera.
The Portuguese came to Sri Lanka in 1505 and destroyed all the temples in coastal areas and the Seenigama Devalaya also was destroyed by Suza, Navy Commander of Portuguese in 1580. Hiralu Sandeshaya written in 1912 by Ven Binnagoda Vichiththavaratissa Thera had been sent to the Seenigama Devalaya to protect the Buddha Sasanaya from disrobed persons. It aimed to punish the people who damaged the Bikkunisasana.
After that all the disrobed people were sterilized. In 1922 the Seenigama Devalaya was separated from the land and it was called the Devalaya in the sea due to the huge sea erosion. Then nothing happened to the Devalaya and the stonewall which came with Prince Devol is still there giving the strength to the Davalaya. Retired Civil Servant Hue Nevil had written in his book about Devas of Sri Lanka in 1886, there are some details of this Devalaya. There are some ollas in detail in the National Archives.
The First Procession has been planned to go to Telwatta Rajamaha Vihara at 1.00 pm on August 26 and second procession has been planned to go to Hikkaduwa Jananandarama Viharaya at 1.00 pm. On August 28 and 29 the procession will travel to Telwatta and Thotagamuwa in the night
Today people use canoes to go to the Devalaya for offerings. Those days people could do it in the mainland. This Devalaya is famous all over the island for grinding chillies, ginger, mustered and pepper and requesting the Devol Devindu to punish the culprits who cause sufferings.
Devotees continue coming to the Davalaya especially on Wednesdays and Saturdays to curse the wrong doers.
There are some Devalayas which are famous for Devol Devindu. They are Weheragoda, Udugalpitiya (Dodanduwa) Gintota, Unawatuna Lanumodara, Ridioyagala and Horawela. These kinds of Devalayas are situated in the up-county also. Seenigama Davalaya is a majestic place. People pray to get reasonable solutions for their court cases. A new building is being constructed to facilitate the devotees who are unable to go to the Devalaya situated in the sea.
I would like to state that the Trustee of the Devalaya has implemented a new plan to develop the Devalaya and the official patronage also has been taken to this festival today.
The First Procession has been planned to go to Telwatta Rajamaha Vihara at the auspicious time of 1.00 pm on August 26 and second procession has been planned to go to Hikkaduwa Jananandarama Viharaya at 1.00 pm. On August 28 and 29 the procession will travel to Telwatta and Thotagamuwa in the night.
The festival will conclud after the Devolmadu Yagaya on August 30, Fire Walking on August 31 by giving Devadanaya to the devotees.