Nawagamuwa Devalaya - Dedicated to goddess Pattini
It was the day of the ICC Cricket world cup finals. Sri Lanka was yet
to play the biggest match of the season. With the intention of coming
back before the commencement of the match, we started our journey from
Colombo to the famous Nawagamuwa Devalaya around 9 a.m. Situated at the
13th mile post of Colombo-Rathnapura Road, 4km from Kaduwela Junction,
it is one of the most visited devalayas of the country.
Nawagamuwa Devalaya is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Pattini.
Buddhists as well as non-Buddhists offer poojas to the deity with the
intention of getting blessings for children and pregnant mothers. On the
day we visited, the place was full of devotees despite the match.
History of this devalaya goes back to the Anuradhapura era. As the
legend unfolds King Gajaba 1 (A.D. 114 - 136) came from India with
12,000 men as prisoners, bringing with him a Pattini anklet, he landed
at a place close to devalaya. Devalaya was built enshrining the anklet.
“Other version of this legend is that Goddess Pattini arrived at this
place from India with 12,000 devotees belonging to 16 castes. The men
and women settled down in adjacent villages to serve the goddess,” said
Nawagamuwe Podi Hamuduruvo Atigala Kunnarathana Thera.
Moonstone with floral
“The well, which is believed to be the one that the Goddess Pattini
used to bathe, can be found near the devalaya,” said the Thera. “The
oldest building of the premises is the Pattini Devalaya. Viharageya and
the other artefacts had been built later to accommodate the large number
of devotees arrived at the place,” he added.
The temple, which is
attached to the devalaya is Sri Sugathabimbaramaya. The first historical
mention of the Nawagamuwa Pattini Devale is found during the Kotte
period, in the ‘Godagama Sannasa’, it is said that King Buwanekabahu V
(A.D. 1521 - 1580), a gift of oil is made for the Nawagamuwa Pattini
This area was historically important even during the period of King
Sitawaka. It is renowned that King Mayadunne (A.D. 1521 - 1580) had
stopped at the Nawagamuwa Pattini Devale to make a vow before he went to
war with the Portuguese in the Colombo Fort. According to the reports of
the Portuguese, in 1550, the King of Portuguese sent 600 troops to help
King Buwanekabahu V. They fought with King Mayadunne at Nawagamuwa. It
is also recorded that in 1576, the Portuguese army destroyed Nawagamuwa
Devale and established an army camp there.
The devalaya was rebuilt by
King Mayadunne only to be destroyed again by the Captain of the Colombo
Fort, leaving a pile of ruins. According to the Department of
Archaeology some building materials, Dutch coins, and iron implements
have been found during an excavation around the devalaya.
|Dagoba of the temple
The Viharageya, which is believed to have been built in 19th century,
is a beautiful building with paintings belonging to the Kandy era. It
has four stone entrances and three Bodhisattva Statues. The inner part
of the Viharageya has a long reclining Buddha Statue and a statue of God
Vishnu. That ceiling is decorated with magnificent floral paintings. The
door, which opens to the inner hall, is decorated with paintings of a
flower and a picture of a worshipping ‘vamana’.
The stone pillars in front of the building are believed to be from a
temple, which has been destroyed during the Portuguese period. The whole
building is built on a stone foundation. The moonstone at the entrance,
which belongs to the post Kandy period is rather different from what we
see in other places. Instead of a liyawela this one has six petal
flowers and tuskers.
There are also two doratupala figures and remains of a Makara
Thorana. “The oldest shrine of the devalaya premises is the Galkanu
Devalaya,” said Podi Hamuduruwo. This shrine is built of four stone
posts. The remains of the original stone posts are still visible. Some
people believe these as rubbles of the first Pattini Devalaya. However,
this was rebuilt during the Katuwawala Sri Sumanathissa Thera, one of
the Chief Priests of the Sri Sugathabimbaramaya.
The Maha Pattini Devalaya, the main shrine of the area, has been
built during the 19th century. A gilded statue of the Goddess Pattini is
enshrined in it. There are five other shrines stands in a row in front
of the Maha Devalaya. Out of these Dedimunda, Kataragama and Vishnu
Devalayas belongs to the 19th century, however others are built
recently. During a recent research conducted by the Department of
Archaeology, Viharage, Sangavasaya (the Monks abode), Galkanu Devalaya,
Maha Pattini Devale, along with these three ancient shrines has declared
as archaeologically important sites.
Old avasaya ge
In addition to that, a grove of Naa-tree, which is believed to be
more than 100 years old, is also one of the protected sites. “The legend
says that there is a white king cobra in this grove,” said Podi
Hamuduruvo. “I have never seen him, but there are people who had spotted
him,” he added. The procession of the devalaya is also unique. Unlike
other shrines, Bulls are used for the procession instead of elephants.
This is known as ‘Gon Pita Perehera’. “The jewels of Vishnu and
Kataragama are taken on bulls back during the Perehera,” explained Podi
Stories related to the devalaya are also interesting as much as its
history. The most popular out of those is that once a Jak fruit has
grown out of the wooden entrance of the devalaya. A villager who had
come into the devalaya premises in search of his cow had spotted this
well grown Jak fruit. The hungry villager had offered a portion to
Goddess Pattini and had eaten the rest. Hearing this story the angry
kapurala of the devalaya had cursed the villager. “However, it is said
that the Kapurala himself had died from that curse,” explained the
thera. “This devalaya is a place full of miracles. Unlike today, our
ancestors believed that the deity punished the drunk devotees and never
allowed to pass the devalaya with loose hair,” added the Thera.
Pix: Janani Amarasekara