We bring you a short account of our pilgrimage to Trincomalee that took place during the month of May .We observed our religious rites pertaining to Vesak festival this year at Trincomalee. For us Buddhists Vesak is the most important day in our Calendar denoting Birth, Enlightment and Parinirvana (Death) of Lord Buddha. Due to its significance and our routine we decided have Poojas accordingly in the two most important Buddhist shrines of the northern eastern part of Sri Lanka.
Using the long weekend wisely we headed towards Trincomalee on the 7th May early morning. Some members of the Cancer Care, People working closely with the Association as well as Dr. Samadhi joined in this rare voyage to the deep jungles of Seruwila and Thiryaya that circle the district of Trincomalee.
We arrived at Trincomalee right on time for lunch. Our lodging was at the Plappenburg Camp facing China Bay. When our group convoyed to Seruwila, it was around 3.00 in the evening. We took the Kantale, Seruwila road since it is the only possible way from land, allowing safe passage to this formerly war ridden area that harbored terrorists until then and close to Muttur and Mavil Aru. It took us more than two hours to reach Seru Nuwara off Muttur due to this long hectic 50 Km long road of poth holes. Although it’s only a 50 Km ride due to the condition of the road it felt like we took a never ending journey. On our way crossing paddy fields and miles and miles of thick jungle (Sanctuary) there were herds of wild animals’ and elephants being the most hard to miss. Somehow we reached Seruvila Dageba around 6.00 in the evening to go-ahead with our much anticipated Pooja.
“About six miles to the southwest of this ancient site of Giri Nuvara (present Muttur) is the Seruvila Dageba. Seruvila Dageba was built by King Kavantissa shortly before his death in the first half of the 2nd century BC. The name Seru Vila means teals’ lake. It comes from ‘seruva’, the Sinhala name for a very small duck, not much bigger than a domestic pigeon called Anas crecca in Latin, and ‘teal’ in English. This lake is situated close to the right bank of the Mahaveli River at the northern extremity of Ruhuna then ruled by King Kavantissa. The significance of this Dageba along with its historical background is that it enshrines the forehead relic of Lord Buddha. It is said this forehead relic is placed on a golden Buddha statue where the forehead of the statue is replaced by Lord Buddha’s forehead relic. In this regard the Seruvila Dageba falls in to the list of 12 most revered places that Lord Buddha has set foot on (Solosmasthana) and highly significant as equal as Ruwanweliseya, Somawathi Dageba, Kelani Viharaya and Thuparamaya that all enshrines major relics of Lord Buddha”
The temple premises was crowded with local pilgrims owing to Vesak day. But it was much lesser compared to other major sites of religious importance on a day like this. Firstly we met with the chief incumbent of the temple to inform our presence and to take permission to offer our Poojas to Seruvila Dageba. Our pooja preparations were then invited to be offered with the evening main pooja that took place under the patronage of chief incumbent himself. We began our offering with the Vilakku (Light) Pooja and followed by Incense (Suwanda Dum) pooja. Then we took on the Kapruk Pooja to be offered to the Stupa. This was participated by many others who gathered for the evening prayers. We encircled the Dageba with our Incense and Kapruka while local drummers supplying with Shabda (sound) pooja. It was indeed a moment and a Pooja with utmost honor and devotion that thundered the whole area with pilgrims chanting Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu. While the Kapruka was going around the Dageba for many times an offering of Wijnipath was also took place. Other usual pooja items like lotuses and flowers were abundant. This pooja went on for more than two hours. At the end of the pooja recital of Dhamma Chakka Pawattana Sutta took place offering merits to participants, gods and everyone known to us including patients and the members of the forces.
A rare chance was received by Dr. Samadhi to whitewash the Seruwila Dageba starting from 2600 Buddha Jayanthi in 2012 .He took an undertaking, a vow in front of both Seruwila Stupa and the Chief incumbent to fulfill this duty until his life ceased to be (A lifetime commitment to whitewash the Dageba annually). A deed of guarantee was signed by Dr. Samadhi on this regard in front of us and other pilgrims concluding the Vesak program for the day.
We left the temple passed 8.00 in the thick darkness hoping to stop by a Dansela to get dinner. But a continues ride from Colombo to Trincomalee and on the same day to Seruvila got us sleeping in our vehicles exhausted. On our way back also elephants paved the way until we arrived at Kanthale. Next day our plan was to go to Thiriyaya anticipating a much difficult ride. After coming in to an agreement to leave Trincomalee soon after breakfast everybody went to sleep peacefully.
Our second day of the journey will continue from here onwards on a separate post.