Members of the Maha Sangha, headed by Ven Pallegama Sirinivasabhidaana Nayake Thera, Atamasthanadhipathi, Incumbent for eight places of worship in Anuradhapura chanted Seth Pirith and invoked blessings on all Army Flags Friday (2) morning during the annual Anuradhapura Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi flag blessing ceremony that got underway on account of the forthcoming 66th Army Anniversary and the Army Day (Oct 10).

Friday’s Buddhist ceremony, the second in sequel was one among a series of multi-religious observances organized to coincide with the anniversary and saw hundreds of Army soldiers-turned flag-bearers, representative of the entire organization, lined up before all Army flags are taken to the Udamaluwa (upper layer) for symbolic invocation of blessings.

The day’s religious ceremony set off with the arrival of the chief guest, Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva, Commander of the Army for the event. Prior to the offerings, the Commander paid his obeisance to the Atamasthanadhipathi and offered the traditional Deheth Wattiya (tray of betel), formally inviting him to perform anniversary blessings.
Army cultural troupe’s beats of traditional and auspicious drums, Hevisi and Magul Bera, reverberated around the most sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi precincts heralding the conduct of the event and a colorful pageant afterwards conducted the monks to the Udamaluwa.
As has been the practice, all the Army Flags, representing the Army Headquarters, the Volunteer Force Headquarters, all Security Force Headquarters, all Forward Maintenance Areas, Divisions, Area Headquarters, Sub-Area Headquarters, Brigades, Regiments, Units and Army Training Schools, were thus taken in the colorful procession around the Weli Maluwa (lower layer) thrice before those flags were accepted by senior officers, awaiting at the Meda Maluwa (middle layer). Those flags were afterwards respectfully handed over to the Commander of the Army for placement at the foot of the most sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya in the upper layer for symbolic blessings.

After the flags were laid on a bed of jasmine and lotus flowers at the foot of the Sri Maha Bodhiya, members of the Maha Sangha performed religious rites and chanted Seth Pirith, invoking blessings on the country’s indispensable Guardians of the Nation and extolled the Army’s contribution and dedication towards the motherland. A special Anushasana (oratory), made by the prelate on the occasion wished long life to the Army and its brave members.

In another gesture, a special cash donation of Rs 1 million for development of the sacred place was then offered by the Commander to the Chief Incumbent at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya as a symbolic gesture of appreciation towards the Sangha fraternity after the main ceremony.

The traditional Flag Blessing ceremony at Anuradhapura Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi preceded last Monday’s (28) religious performances at the Sri Dalada Maligawa, attaching pride of place to the veneration of ‘Shaareerika’ (physical) relics at Kandy at the first place before offerings were made to the sacred, ‘Paribhogika’ (places or objects of use) relics of the Buddha at Anuradhapura.

Chief-of-Staff and all Principal Staff Officers, Commanders-Security Force Headquarters, Commanders, General Officers Commanding, Brigade Commanders, Commandants, and a gathering of senior officers were also present during the ceremony.

Ven Nugathenne Pannananda Nayaka Thera, Incumbent, Sri Jayanthi Viharaya, Anuradhapura, Ven Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera, Incumbent, Ruwanweli Maha Seya, Ven Ralapanawe Dhammajothi Nayaka Thera, Incumbent, Lankaramaya, Ven Eethalawetunuwewe Gnanarathana Thera, Incumbent, Mirisawetiya, Isurumuniya and Abhayagiriya Incumbents were also associated with the day’s ceremony at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya. 48

The Army, raised in October 1949 as the country’s most formidable land force to be reckoned with, is now comprised of 24 regiments, including volunteer ones, and engaged in a multiplicity of nation-building development projects since its landmark victory over terrorism in the year 2009.