Sacred treasures ceremonially deposited
By Camelia Nathaniel
Around 29,000 Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and CSD soldiers sacrificed their lives to liberate the country from the crutches of terrorism. Over 60,000 soldiers were injured during the war and even today, over 14,000 are confined to a wheelchair or bed having been critically injured and rendered disabled. That is how they will have to spend the rest of their lives, but they are proud of what they have done for the liberation of the country. Hence, the President and Prime Minister embarked on a project to erect the ‘Sandahiru Seya’ in memory of all these valiant war heroes who gave their all for the country.
Since the great Stupas that were built by our former kings, this is the largest Stupa being built in modern times in the country.
Funds for the construction of this Stupa comes from contributions made by military personnel who have willingly donated a part of their salary and other donors.
The enormous Sandahiru Seya is a mere 18.5 feet less in height than the mighty Ruwan Weli Seya, which is a revered Buddhist place of worship. The Tripitakaya has also been replicated on golden leaves and deposited in the ‘Sandahiru Seya’ Stupa. In addition an eight kilo copper statue of the Buddha has also been deposited at the Stupa, in addition to a large amount of treasures donated by businessmen and the public.
The ceremony to deposit these treasures in the square chamber above the Stupa dome was held on March 28 under the patronage of Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne, the commanders of the Tri Forces, Police and CSD and the Maha Sangha.
Speaking at the event, General Gunaratne, who was a driving force behind this mammoth project, said that currently, only one-third of the square chamber has been constructed. “The square chamber will be 39 feet in height which is the height of a four-storied building. Further, the Devatha Kotuwa will be another 25 feet high and above that will be the Koth Kerella which will be a further 72 feet tall and the Koth Wahanse will be another 18 feet tall with the Chuda Manikya being three-and-a-half feet in height. In fact, in addition to the construction done so far, the Dagoba will see another 100 feet added on at its completion. The base of the Dagoba runs around 28 feet below the ground level,” the Defence Secretary said.
The three-and-a half-foot high crest gem designed to be placed at the tip of the Conical Spire embedded with precious stones and gold was offered to the Atamasthana Chief Prelate Ven. Dr. Pallegama Siriniwasa Thera by businessman Arthur Senanayake, a devotee and a patron of the sacred construction.
He noted that all this is done in remembrance of the over 29,000 valiant war heroes who sacrificed their lives for their motherland and the over 14,000 disabled war heroes who sacrificed their tomorrow for their country. “Our ancestors had built our ancient Dagobas in remembrance of our former heroes and this gigantic Dagoba is a tribute to the war heroes of our time, which will stand tall for future generations to see as a testament to the sacrifices they made.”
The Defence Secretary made it a point to pay tribute to the Buddhist clergy for their support and assistance in realising the dream of constructing this magnificent Dagoba, adding that without their advice and guidance, this task could not have been achieved.
The initial name of this Dagoba was ‘Ranaviru Seya’ but it was subsequently changed to ‘Sandahiru Seya’, indicating that this structure will remain as a place of worship and a sign of gratitude to the fallen and injured war heroes for as long as the moon and sun rises in our land. “Although this Dagoba was named ‘Sandahiru Seya’, I personally believe that it would be even more appropriate to call it the ‘Kala Guna’ Seya (to be grateful for the sacrifices made by the war heroes),” the Defence Secretary noted.
Appreciating the donations made by the public to make the depositing of treasures to the Sandahiru Seya a significant event, he said not only the businessmen who donated, but even the public had generously contributed to make this occasion a success. “I was here to accept the donations made by a group of businessmen and members of the public came up to me and wanted to be part of the donations. Some even removed the jewellery that was on their necks, ears and even their wedding rings and donated them to be deposited in this Dagoba. I was really touched by their generosity and their love and gratefulness for our war heroes who have sacrificed so much to ensure a peaceful country for all of us to live in. In addition, the Gem and Jewellery Authority donated two containers of gems worth over 25 million which was donated by gem businessmen throughout the country.”
The Sandahiru Seya in Anuradhapura was commissioned by the then President Rajapaksa in 2010. Designed to reach 85m in height, with a circumference of 244m, it will eventually rise above the ancient Dagobas of Jetavanarama and Abhayagiri (but will not surpass their original heights). Sandahiru Seya is being constructed from over 30 million bricks and will be plastered and then whitewashed when finished. While the construction of this Dagoba was initiated over 10 years ago, its construction was stalled due to various reasons. However, after the current Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne assumed office and the new Government came into power, the construction of this magnificent structure recommenced and is forging ahead in full force.
The auspicious placement of the first brick on the harmika, Hathares Kotuwa (high pavilion) of the Sandhahiru Seya Stupa at Anuradhapura took place on May 25, 2020 amid Pirith chanting and blessings of the Maha Sangha.
Major General Dhammika Jayasinghe, Commander, Security Forces-Wanni, on behalf of the Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne laid the first brick on the Stupa pavilion.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa several years ago, during his tenure as the Defence Secretary, initiated the construction of this large Stupa in this sacred old kingdom of Anuradhapura as a tribute to the memory of all fallen war heroes.
Technically qualified workforce of the Tri-Forces and Civil Security Department (CSD) personnel are engaged in the project.
During a recent visit to the site to inspect the progress of the construction, Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne discussed the construction of the Stupa including the erecting of the square chamber, assembly of sacred rings over the square chamber, minaret, setting of conical spire, placing of sacred symbolic crystal at the pointing tip, proposed inscriptions, engravings, sculpture and artwork.”
According to Gen. Gunaratne, plans are underway for the exposition of the Sacred Symbolic Crystal for public veneration prior to setting it up.
He reviewed the groundwork with regard to the erection of Bo-Tree House (Bodhigaraya) during his arrival at the sacred premises.
Once completed, this would also be considered as one of the largest pagodas in the island within the 16 places of veneration.
The mega construction undertaken by the Tri-Forces is 282 feet in height with a circumference of 801 feet.
The construction of the Stupa was an idea of the fifth Executive President of the country and the present Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa built in appreciation of the noble services rendered by the Security Forces personnel to rid the country of terrorism.
Afterwards, the construction process was steered under the directives of the former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who is the current President.
Ven. Maha Sanga including Malwathu Chapter Lekakadhikari Most Ven. Rajakiya Panditha Dr. Pahamune Dharmakirthi Sri Sumangala Thera, Government Ministers, the North Central Province Governor, Parliamentarians, Ministry Secretaries, Navy and Air Force Commanders, Inspector General of Police, Director General of CSD, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Gem & Jewellery Authority and a large gathering of devotees and invitees were also present at the event.
The Defence Secretary denoting the culmination of the construction process stated they hoped that this sacred Stupa would be vested on public in November 2021.
Here are vignettes of the ceremony to deposit the treasures.
Courtesy : www.dailynews.lk