Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Stage set for the 2011 Kandy Perahera

Wanakku Rala Herath hands over the <i>kap</i> to an official of Katragama Devale
Wanakku Rala Herath delivers the kap to an official of Kataragama Devale

By L.B. Senaratne

The kap planting ceremony at the four Devales , Maha Vishnu, Natha, Katragama and Godess Pathini has taken place, marking the commencement of the Kandy Esala Perahera. The kap which was brought from Aluthnuwara was distributed at the Dedimunda Devale on Saturday at the auspices time of 7.05 am in Kandy.

The Diyawadana Nilame Pradeep Nilanga Dela, Basnayake Nilmes of the four Devales Mohan Pannabokke, Rohana Pranagama and S. Wekagodapola were present during the ceremonies.

The kap,or a Milky branch obtained from a jak tree around Aluthnuwara Devale premises was cut with a silver axe at Aluthnuwara by Wannakku Rala Herath which ritual is the first, to commence the Kandy Esala Perahera, in Kandy. This branch, which was turned into a kap at Dedimunda Devale in Kandy, after the rituals were distributed to the four Devales.

The aged old axe which was used for ages could not be used and a new silver axe with a sandalwood handle was donated by a devotee of Aluthnuwara Devale and this was handed over to the Basnayake Nilame of the Devale Mohan Pannabokke, who in turn handed it over to Wannakku Rala the official in charge of the ceremonies at the Devale.

The cutting of the kap was done with all the rituals connected with it and the kap was not allowed to fall on to the ground, which was held by four to five persons. Then it was wrapped a with white cloth and brought forth having circled the old Devale premises which is now marked with a single brass lamp. Later a Kapurala mounted on a tusker took it away to Kandy for the kap planting ceremonies on the 31st of July.

At Kandy, in the Dedimunda Devale premises which is in close proximity to the Maha Viahnu Devale, the kap or branch from Alutnuwara will be cut into four pieces and given over to the four Deavles in Kandy, Maha Vishnu, Goddess Pattini, Natha and Kataragama for the Kap Planting ceremony on 31st July.

Incidentally, this ritual signifies that the oldest perahera was at Aluthnuwara and it was King Senarath who brought the effigies from Aluthnuwara to Kandy, which marks the commencement of the Peraheras in Kandy, commencing from Maha Vishnu Devale.

After the planting of the kap at the Devales in Kandy, Peraheras will be held within the Devale premises.

Courtesy: The Sunday Times (Colombo) of 31 July 2011