The cremation of late Mahanayake (Chief Prelate) of the Asgiriya Chapter of the Siam Sect, Most Venerable Galagama Sri Aththadassi Thera will take place today, March 13 at the Police Grounds, Kandy with full State honours.

The day has also been declared as a National Day of Mourning owing to the demise of the Chief Prelate.

The Chief Prelate passed away last Wednesday while receiving treatment at the Intensive Care Unit of the Kandy Hospital. He was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday following a fall in the temple premises.

The Mahanayake Thera who was the 21st Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter was 94 years old at the time of his death and had served the Buddha Sasana and country for over 80 years. He was appointed as the Mahanayake on May 8, 2015 following the demise of the then Chief Prelate Most Venerable Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Thera on April 8, 2015.

The last rites for late Mahanayake Thera will commence around 3.00pm today and will be attended by the members of the Maha Sangha, Ministers, Members of Parliament and the general public.

The Mahanayake Thera was born as Kulatunga Mudiyanselage Kiri Bandara on January 11, 1922 in Palle-Siya-Patthuwa in Asgiriya, Matale. He joined the Bhikku Order and took up robes in 1936.

As a boy, he commenced his primary education at the Veeraparakkrama School at Yatawaththe. As a novice monk, he had attended the Urulawatte temple under the guidance of Most Venerable Sri Vidharshi Urulawatte Mahanayake Thera.

Later he attended the Sri Dharmaraja Pirivena, Matale to study Buddhism and oriental languages Pali, Sanskrit and Tamil for which he obtained distinctions.

After obtaining his “Panditha” degree he went on to obtain his Sadhdharmacharya degree in 1950. He later obtained the Abhidharmacharya degree following which he obtained the Thripitacacharya degree. In 1950, Venerable Galagama Aththadassi There obtained the Majjima Bhanaka degree.

He also graduated from the Vidyodhya Pirivena (today known as University of Sri Jayewardenepura). The Thera was appointed to the post of Anunayake (the second highest post in the Sangha Order) in 1999.

He was appointed as the 21st Mahanayake of the Asgiri Chapter of the Siam Sect on May 8, last year.