The only Spikes procession in Sri Lanka

The Kingdom of Seethawaka is a landmark in the history of Ceylon.  You can see a major Rajamaha Viharaya built in association with almost every kingdom in Sri Lanka.  The Maniyangama Rajamaha Viharaya can be identified as the main temple in the Seethawaka Kingdom.

  About 4 km from Avissawella town on the Panawala road, this sacred place can be seen in a beautiful area amidst two beautiful streams of water flowing from the foothills of the Yakahatuwa.

 The history of this place goes back to the days of King Walagamba who ruled in the early days of Anuradhapura.  It was later rebuilt under the patronage of King Mayadunne.  Although the chronicle highlights his son Seethawaka Rajasinghe as an anti-Buddhist, there is no mention that any harm was done to the bhikkhu generation of the Maniyangama Vihara which was built in a view of the royal palace.  It is described here under a separate heading.

 King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe during the Kandyan period was a ruler who pioneered a Sasana revival.  As such, his attention may have been drawn to this land which was considered as the crown jewel of the Thun Korale.  In 1766 AD he took action to completely renovate all the temples of this temple.  A painting depicting him can still be seen in the temple.

  This pious man has also become the founder of the Karal Perahera.

 Usually a procession of relics or jewels takes place.  But this perahera is special because of the freshly harvested paddy harvest.  This perahera ritual has been continued since then.  The procession will take place on the full moon day.  Its beginning is marked by a weekly Pirith chanting.

 The Maniyangama area is in a state of flux this season.  On the afternoon of Duruthu Poya Day, the gathering in the temple courtyard will be established by the Chief Incumbent of the Maha Sangha Ratna in the Tissarana Pancha Sheela.  Afterwards, the Perahera casket and the Piruvana books will be placed in the houses of two separate elephant kingdoms.  The procession leaves auspiciously.  It is a time gun donated by the king that is still used today to communicate to the masses.

The highlight of this procession is the Prince of Spikes.  This prince selects a healthy caste child between the ages of 8 – 12 who is an important figure close to the temple from the four contributing families in Peru.  This child is selected by the Chief Incumbent and joins the procession dressed in Kandyan original attire.  It is said that this prince, who represents the king, dressed up as a prince in the past and wore a crown and joined in this.  The procession will proceed to a pre-determined paddy field.

 Today, dancers from all three main traditions of the Perahera, the Upcountry and the Low Country Sabaragamuwa, join in the procession.  The first specialty that can be seen here is the Maha Bamba which joins the procession.  It has two faces, one is the face of God and the other is the face of the dreaded devil.  This is carried around in a procession during the procession.  Although there are various legends about this, the belief of the locals is that it represents King Seethawaka Rajasinghe.

 They believe that this shows that he answered both good and bad.  But this is a common feature of Saman Devalaya processions.  It is believed that this represents the goddess Mahaleku, a sister of the god Saman.

 Another specialty of the procession is the contributor carrying a jar of Pirith and spraying Pirith along the way.  It is conceivable that this was added as a reminder of the Sasana history in which Ven.  It is customary for the monks in charge of the service to attend this procession.  They join the procession with the Elephant King carrying the Perahera casket.

 The most special feature of the procession is the prince who picks the spikes.  It is a tradition to decorate the road leading to the paddy field with a Gokkola arch and Gokkola along the way.  A flower plant is made in the paddy field at the wedding harvest and lamps are offered to the gods.  In the midst of the pirith chanting of the Maha Sangha, the owner of the paddy field picks up the ears and wraps them in a white cloth and places them on the tray in the prince’s hand.

  The perahera begins its journey back to the temple after the surrounding farmers also give the harvest from their paddy fields to the prince.

The procession passing through the city pays homage to the temple in the early morning.  There, the tray of spikes brought by the prince is handed over to the devotees who are preparing the Agra Sasya Pooja.  They tie it to the canopy and turn it into rice using their nails with great reverence in a special place where it is made into piruwa.  Then the Buddha Pooja is made using rice, cow’s milk, cow’s oil, honey etc. using sandalwood and cinnamon wood.

 On this occasion the Maha Sangha will bless by chanting Pirith.  Although women are not usually involved in muruthan poojas, they are thought to be reminiscent of Sujatha Situ’s daughter, who first offered milk to the Buddha before becoming a Buddha.

 During the day, the prince and his entourage, led by Hewitt groups, pluck the spikes under the umbrella and place the Buddha Pooja in the same bowl donated by the King and take it to the temple.  The Buddha Pooja is performed by the monks in charge of the service.

 Afterwards, alms will be given to the members of the Maha Sangha who visit the temples in the area and it is customary to offer a portion of the Agra Sasya Pooja to each monk.

 The procession then concludes with a tribute to all the deities and to King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe, blessing the people of Satara Peru to cultivate rice and crops.


From the Facebook page of Kokila Gihan Vithanathanthri

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