Nawagamuwa Pattini Devalaya:
Abode of Goddess of fertility and health
Sri Lankans, irrespective of religious beliefs, seek divine
intervention at many stages in their lives. Goddess of fertility and
health Pattini is a pivotal figure in the lives of many people who
ardently believe that she has the power to lead them to a happier,
Paying homage to Goddess Pattini has become a ritual followed by
Sinhala Buddhists, Hindus and other communities in Sri Lanka as they
believe that Goddess Pattini can fulfill their wishes and provide divine
protection for pregnant women and also adults and children infected with
communicable diseases sometimes called “deiyange leda” (Gods’ diseases).
It is a common ritual among the Buddhists to make a vow in the name
of Goddess Pattini, one of the guardian deities of Sri Lanka and
Buddhism as believed by Sinhala Buddhists, to seek her divine protection
to make a delivery of a child a safer one for mothers and to get the
children and adults protected when they are infected with communicable
diseases like chicken pox and measles.
Married couples who are not blessed with children also seek the
blessings of Goddess Pattini while women suffering from various
complexities during their pregnancy also seek the blessings of Goddess
Pattini and make vows at this Devalaya.
The historic Pattini Devalaya in Nawagamauwa is believed to be the
principle Devalaya dedicated to the name of Goddess Pattini in Sri
Lanka. It has become a centre of attraction for the faithful devotees
who believed in the protection and blessings of Goddess Pattini.
Devotees carrying trays of fruits (pooja watti) with yellow colour
garlands (the colour dedicated to Goddess Pattini) to make their vows
and show their gratitude towards Goddess Pattini for fulfilling their
wishes, is a common scene for those passing this historic Devalaya
situated on the 13th Mile Post of the Old Colombo Ratnapura Road or Low
Level Road a few kilometres from the Kaduwela town.
Located in a rock like land in a thicket of Na trees or ‘Na Gomuwa’
that later gave the name to the area Nawagamuwa according to the people
and historians, the surrounding environment of Pattini Devalaya gives a
sense of relief for the people visiting this historic Devalaya as they
reach the cliff where the Pattini Maha Devalaya is located in the centre
of other Devalayas dedicated for other Gods and Goddesses.
Buddhists believe that Goddess Pattini is a Bodhisatva aspiring to
become a future Buddha and had graced this land with her presence,
meditating for years at the place where Pattini Devalaya is located.
This has made this place a divine one.
“Even today we feel the presence of Pattini Maniyo in this land and
that makes this place a divine one to fulfill all the wishes made by the
people here at this Devalaya with good faith”, Maralanda Bandara the
incumbent Kapurala of Nawagamuwa Pattini Devalaya said.
Many believe that Devalaya was built by King Gajaba I, who brought
12,000 prisoners from India after fighting the Chola kingdom, had also
brought the anklet of Goddess Pattini, also known as Kannaki according
to Hindu belief and the bowl relics.
“There is a belief the King Gajaba I, and his group had rested here
at this place Nagomuwa on their way to Pihiti Rata after keeping the
anklet of Goddess Pattini and bowl relics on a secured place on the rock
but could not move the anklets when they tried to take it with them.
Therefore, it is believed that the king had constructed this Devalaya
enshrining the anklets of Goddess Pattini here and kept people from nine
castes brought from India to make the offerings to Goddess Pattini at
this Devalaya,” Bandara added.
Kapurala of Nawagamuwa
There is also another belief that Goddess Pattini herself had arrived
with 12,000 people and had lived here after creating nine villages for
different castes of people engaged in different work. Therefore people
believe the area is called Nawagamuwa because of these nine villages.
Apart from these folklore and legends related to Nawagamuwa Devalaya,
the stone pillars in the centre of Devala premises which are protected
by the Kapurala’s in veneration gives historic value to the place.
The archaeological studies about the Devalaya cite that the stone
pillars near the Devalaya belong to the Portuguese period (1505-1658)
and the location was used by them as a school to teach Christianity and
also as a seminary.
According to the historical studies on Nawagamuwa Devalaya, the first
historical mention is found during the Kotte period in the ‘Godagama
Sannasa’, by Buwanekabahu V (A.D. 1521 - 1580), of a royal decree for a
gift of oil to be made for the Nawagamuwa Pattini Kovil Perahera.
That gives the impression that the Devalaya had been maintained as a
Kovil in the past and it had Hindu influence as Goddess Pattini is also
known as Goddess Kannakee by Hindus. Thus the same God is shared by
Buddhists and Hindus and it has now turned into the principal Devalaya
dedicated to Goddess Pattini believed to be in charge of the territory
of Kelani river valley in Sri Lanka.
As the Devalaya is now located along with Sri Sugatha Bimbaramaya,
the Buddhist temple which controls the premises, people visiting the
Pattini Devalaya worship the Buddha before making their visit to Pattini
Devalaya to make their vows and wishes.
The Buddhists believe that Goddess Pattini who seeks to get the soul
of a male in her aspiration to become Buddha one day, is in need of
merit. People invoke merit on Goddess Pattini after offering flowers and
worshiping the Buddha at the temple.
According to Bandara who is in charge of all rituals at the Devalaya
since the 1990s they are conducting certain rituals every day and in the
month of August they perform the Perahera ritual at Devalaya.
People make various offerings to Goddess Pattini, mainly trays of
fruit, either cut or uncut, to make their vows before the Goddess and
they hope to be blessed by the Goddess on hearing the Kapurala’s
pleading for blessings.
The gilded statue of the Goddess Pattini placed in the palace of the
Goddess Pattini, is unveiled to the public only during “thevava” rituals
conducted at the Devalaya at specific times between 6 am to 8.30 p.m.
The ritual Muluthan pooja to make offerings to Goddess Pattini is
performed at 9 am and people believe that it is blessing to offer
‘muluthan pooja’ to the Devalaya which is a rare chance.
After making the offering the Muluthan pooja is distributed among the
devotees at the Devalaya to invoke blessings on them.
“Goddess Pattini is always there to fulfil the wishes made by people
in good faith and give protection to the people seeks her blessings.
More than 99 per cent of the people visiting this place are contended in
their life as Goddess Pattini has fulfilled all their wishes,” Bandara
The Pattini Devalaya is undergoing rapid changes with a canopy made
of copper being constructed over Goddess Pattini palace as an offering
to the Devalaya by the Steel Corporation and also certain changes inside
the Devalaya by the State Timber Corporation.
“With these new changes people will be able to see Pattini Devalaya
with a new look by August this year before we perform the Perahera
ritual with the blessings of Chief Incumbent of Sri Sugathabimbaramaya
temple who guides us in the right direction,” Bandara said.