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 Post subject: DIYAKAPANA MANGALLAYA (water-cutting ceremony)
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 07, 2005 8:19 pm 
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DIYAKAPANA MANGALLAYA (water-cutting ceremony)

"Kap" planting at the four main devales of Kandy, as prelude to the annual Esala Perahera, was customarily held on Saturday. Picture is Chief Priest of Sri Kataragama Devale of Kandy Somaskanda Aiya creating the 'Kap' in the premises of the devale, while the Ven. Wenda Vipassi Thero, incumbent of Kataragama Devale Vihare looks on. (@ Island /Pic. Cyril Wimalasurendre Kandy.)


The present day Dalada procession consists of five processions, viz., the Dalada procession followed by the four Devala peraharas in the order of Natha, Visnu, Kataragama and Pattini.The pageant continues for fifteen days, five days of the Devale peraharas only circumambulating the respective Devales in a mini scale, five days of the `Kumbal' perahara and finally the last five `Randoli' peraharas, the final day of which coincides with the Full moon day of Asala (July).The day before the commencement of the first Devale peraharas, the ritual known as `Kap situvima' (Planting of the `kapa' meaning Kalpa-vrksa or the Wish-conferring Tree), thus showering blessings on the ruler and the people.

Prior to the commencement of the respective processions, elaborate preparations are made within the premises such as the dressing of the elephants, dressing of the Diyawadana Nilame and the Basnayaka Nilames and other important officers participating in the processions , arrangement of the different groups of musicians, dancers, singers, flag and firebrand bearers, placing of the casket on the back of the elephant, etc. The important times are announced by the firing of canon balls - the first to announce the commencement of the four devale peraharas, the second at the time of placing the casket on elephant back and the third to announce the commencement of the Dalada perahara and the last on the completion of the perahara.

At the head of the Dalada procession are the whip lashers and the fireball acrobats, the main purpose of these two groups being to clear the route of any obstacles from the path of the procession. Next, the Buddhist flag bearers approach, signifying the religious nature of the procession., and he is followed by bearers of flags of districts and the Viharas and Devales. The first elephant walking in front is ridden by the officer called `Peramune Rala' ( Front Officer). In ancient times, he carried the record of king's permission to hold the procession. Today he carries the palm-leaf manuscript called `Lekam-mitiya' (Records of lands of the Tooth Relic Temple and the names of servicemen of the Maligava). He is followed by groups of Kandyan dancers and drummers. On the back of the second elephant rides Gajanayaka Nilame ( Chieftain in charge of elephants', and the third elephant is ridden by the officer known as Kariya Korala ( Officer next in command to the Diyawadana Nilama.). In between these elephants are intermingling groups of musicians, dancers, and others carrying flags and banners.

The most significant section of the procession, ie., the caparisoned Tusker carrying the casket walking majestically, flanked by two elephants with riders holding the Canopy over the casket and fanning and sprinkling flowers etc. The tusker usually walks on long white cloth spread over in front. A group of singers (Kavikara Maduva) proceed ahead singing in praise of the Tooth Relic.The Diyawadana Nilame (Lay Custodian of the Tooth Relic walks behind in the company of his assistant officers. The most skilled dancers and drummers are made to serve in this section. The traditional symbolic weaponry are carried here on either side. Thus ends the Dalada section of the pageant.

The four Devala processions follow next. These processions assume similar pattern but with certain distinguishing features. The tuskers of the Devales carry the respective insignia of the deities. The Kataragama Devale procession is usually tinged with dance forms like `kavadi', `Kohomba Kale' etc that are of popular Tamil flavour. Pattini being a female goddess, most of the dancers in this procession consist of females.

The palanquins or`Randoli' carried by women at the tail end of the perahara are identical with the vehicles that carry the insignia of the respective divinities. Thus ends the grand spectacle of the procession which parade a route which usually gets longer with the different grades of processions, the longest route being taken on the final day. The completion of the procession is announced by the firing of a cannon ball.

The perahara of the last day is terminated not in the Tooth Relic Temple, but at the Adahanamaluva Gedige Vihara of the Asgiriya monastery. The significance of this is that originally, the Tooth Relic was housed in this Vihare temporarily before the Relic was housed in the shrine within the royal complex.

In the early morning after the final Randoli procession, the four devale priests go in procession to the ancient ford at Gatambe at Peradeniya and perform the ritual known as `Diya-Kapilla'. (Water-cutting ceremony), in which ceremony each of the lay priests (Kapurala) proceed to the middle of the river Mahavali at this point, and after cutting the water surface with a sword, immediately fills the brass pot. These pots are carried back to the shrines, after being blessed on the way at the Katukale Pulleiyyar (Ganesh) Kovil, and the water pots are preserved in the gods' chambers until the next annual procession.

The Day Perahara ,as usual consists of the Dalada and Devale processions, which commence from the Maligava at 3.00 p.m. on this day. This procession arrives at the Adahana Maluva and returns to the Dalada shrine with the Casket, which had been left overnight at this monastery.

Soon after, the Diyawadana Nilame and the Basnayakes of the four Devales, in their official garb, arrive at the President's official Lodge in Kandy and report to the Head of State that the procession has been completed successfully. At the beginning, this tradition was established by the British Government and the King of England was represented by the British Governor of the time. This function ends after the customary offering of gifts to the Officials.

After the completion of the procession, yet another ritual known as the `Valiyak-Natuma', a Devil dancing ceremony is held at the Visnu Devale premises for seven days and ends up with offering of meals (baibat).

During the five nights of the Randoli Perahera, the Dalada procession will return to the Maligawa every night and the ‘devala’ processions to the respective ‘devalas’.

On the final night of the Randoli Perahera an age old custom is revived. The Maligawa Perahera after returning to the Maligawa, goes out again, joined by the ‘devala’ processions to the ‘Adahana Maluwa Gedige Vihara’ of the Asgiriya temple. The golden casket is temporarily kept there and is guarded by the Basnayaka Nilames of the four ‘devalas’. This is done by royal decree when King Kirthisiri Rajasinghe ordered that the casket is brought to the Adahana Maluwa Vihara as a mark of respect to the Queen Mother who was cremated there, thus getting the name, ‘Adahana Maluwa’. It is also mentioned that the Tooth Relic was housed there temporarily before the Relic was housed in the shrine within the royal complex. The ‘devala’ processions then return to their respective ‘devalas’.

In the wee hours of the following morning, the four officiating priests (‘Kapuralas’) of the ‘devalas’ go in procession to the ancient ford at Getambe near Peradeniya to perform another traditional ritual known as the ‘Diyakapana Mangallaya’ (water-cutting ceremony). Each of the lay priests proceed to the middle of the Mahaveli Ganga at this point and after cutting the water surface with a sword, immediately fills the brass pot brought along filled with the water that was taken the previous year. The four pots are kept in the ‘devalas’ till next year.

Originally the water-cutting ceremony had been performed to celebrate a victory in battle when the blood-stained swords of the God of Kataragama, which were supposed to have been used to kill the demons, were ceremonially cleansed.

After the water cutting ceremony, the processions bringing the pots of water come to the Katukelle Pulleiyar (Ganesh or Ganadevi) Kovil where certain rituals are performed. Then they return to the ‘devalas’.

The whole festival is brought to an end in the afternoon with the ‘Daval (Day) Perahera’. The Maligawa procession returns to the Dalada Maligawa from the Adahana Maluwa Vihara bringing back the golden casket to be joined by the ‘devala’ processions at one point after which it proceeds three times round the ‘Dalada Maluwa’ (Temple Square).

Soon after, the Diyawadana Nilame and the Basnayaka Nilames of the four ‘devalas’, clad in their ceremonial garb, arrive at the President’s Lodge in Kandy and report to the Head of State that the Perahera has been successfully concluded. Gifts are then given to the officials. This again is a continuation of an ancient custom when they met the King and reported that the Perahera had been held with due ceremonial. During the days of colonial rule, they reported to the Government Agent of the Central Province who represented the Governor and the Government.

At the end of the Day Perahera, ‘pirith’ is chanted at the devalas and alms offered to give merit to the deities. Yet another ritual known as the ‘Valiyak Netuma’, a devil dancing ceremony is held at the Vishnu Devala premises for seven days. Thus ends the most-talked about annual cultural pageant in Sri Lanka - the Dalada Perahera.

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