May 17, 2022
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    Revival of Kuragala Marked by Army Chief with Enshrinement of Offerings

    January 18, 2022

    The archaeologically-unique Balangoda Pooragala Raja Maha Vihara, more popularly known as Kuragala Cave Temple, which remained dilapidated, neglected and encroached by various elements with vested interests for a long time in Kaltota, Balangoda, rekindling its past glory and historical legacy, thanks to the dedicated incumbency of Ven Waturakumbure Dhammaratana Thera, Incumbent for both Kuragala Temple and Nelligala International Buddhist Centre and tireless and committed contribution, being made by devout Buddhists, Army troops and Civil Defence Service personnel, turned a new lease of life this evening (16) with enshrinement of offerings, treasures, images and artifacts after restoration of its ancient Pagoda (Esi Disi Maha Seya) and the premises to its pristine glory during a colour-rich ceremony.

    The revival of the Kuragala monastic temple, the Buddhist religious site of archaeological value that speaks a legacy running into the prehistoric times of Balangoda Homo Sapiens, was made possible due to manpower, technical and engineering expertise, provided by the Army, consequent upon an invitation, made by Ven Waturakumbure Dhammaratana Thera, Incumbent for both Kuragala monastery temple and Nelligala International Buddhist Centre to General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army about eight months back. The enshrinement ceremony formally began on Saturday (15) evening with 'Pirith' chanting, attended by some 500 Buddhist monks.

    As hundreds of traditional drummers began rending the air, General Shavendra Silva as the Chief Guest for the occasion, together with his spouse atop the first layer of the ancient Dagoba respectfully deposited a replica of a Pagoda, ornamental valuables, offerings and treasures as led by the Chief Incumbent. Air Force helicopters showered floral petals and added more colour and dignity to the event.

    The subsequent 'Daham Hamuwa' graced by Most Ven Warakagoda Sri Gnanaratanabhidana Maha Nayake Thero of Asgriya Chapter, Most Venerable Makulewe Wimala Nayake Thero of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya, Most Ven Dodampahala Chandrasiri Maha Nayake Thero of Amarapura Nikaya, Most Ven Dr Niyangoda Vijithasiri Anu Nayake Thero of Malwatte Chapter, Most Ven Anamaduwe Dhammadassi Thero, Anunayaka Thero of Asgiriya Chapter and Ven Inamaluwe Sumangala Nayake Thero of Rangiri Dambulu Vihara commenced afterwards.

    Principal Presidential Adviser, Lalith Weeratunge, Hon Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, Governor for Sabaragamuwa Province, Hon Akila Ellawala, Member of Parliament, Professor Kapila Gunawardena, Secretary to Ministry of Buddhasasana, religious and cultural affairs, Mrs Malani Lokupothagama, District Secretary for Rathnapura, Mr Nilanga Dela Bandara, Diyawadana Nilame and Mrs Sujeewa Nelson, President, Army Seva Vanitha Unit, were also among the distinguished gathering.

    Ven Waturakumbure Dhammaratana Thera, Incumbent for both Kuragala Temple and Nelligala International Buddhist Centre on behalf of the Maha Sangha, delivered an 'Anusasana' (oration) and spelt out the significance of the event and the importance of this sacred premises dating back to the 2nd century BC, which boasts a history of an early human settlement with ruins of an ancient Buddhist monastery with stone caves. Reprts record that the area was dominated by mediatating bhikkus, some of who were believed to have arrived from foreign shores.

    HE the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the First Lady, Mrs Ioma Rajapaksa, prior to the auspicious enshrinement of sacred objects also visited the venue this afternoon and symbolically enshrined valuables.

    Addressing the 'Daham Hamuwa', General Shavendra Silva recalled to memory how this dilapidated sacred place received a facelift day by day and fulfilled the aspirations of Buddhists under the guidance of Ven Waturakumbure Dhammaratana Thero and the tireless participation of hundreds of Army troops and Civil Security Department personnel who worked day and night. The proposed conduct of the State Vesak festival here with the blessings of HE the President and Hon Prime Minister is an endorsement of our commitment to the religion. The Army Chief also told the gathering that the Army troops would continue to support any religious faith and urged everyone to support this endeavour.

    A gathering of devotees were also associated with the enshrinement ceremony.



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