Little bit about Katharagama Temple
This ancient Shrine is dedicated to the “Kataragama Deviyo” (God Kataragama), a deity known as Skanda Kumara who seat is said to be Kataragama. According to legend the Ruhunu Kataragama Maha Dewalaya was built by King Dutugemunu, A Sri Lankan king known for his military prowess and will to uplift and protect the Buddha Shasana in Sri Lanka. It is said that before he went to battle with King Elara, an invading king from India, he asked for blessings from the Kataragama Deviyo. Upon winning the battle, as a fulfillment of a promise, he built the Kataragama temple and appointed royal officers to safeguard the temple.
The dewala is a simple structure, a quadrangular building flanked by other dewala, ornately decorated both inside and out with figurines and murals. The dewala is managed by the Kapu mahaththayas, officials appointed by the dewala to carry out the patron’s wishes. A patron would bring an offering of fruits, sweetmeats and milk infused rice amongst other things, and makes a wish at the dewala, promising to return with offerings if and when the wish is granted. Amongst the more extravagant offerings are Kavadi Dances and walking on hot coals.
The Annual Esala Festival of the Dewala takes place in the month of July, a series rituals concluding in the Esala Perahara, a religious parade of sorts bringing together many cultural and folk dancers, performers and elephants. This is done to invoke blessings on the devotees and the country each year.
Photography by: Thilina Chandrathilaka