Born under divine wrath Natha Devalaya at Dodanwala | Daily News

Born under divine wrath Natha Devalaya at Dodanwala

Dodanwala village in Yatinuwara came to be known for its Natha Devalaya where people visit on Kemmura days (Wednesdays and Saturdays) to fulfil their vows or seek blessings of the Natha deity. The Dodanwala Devalaya can be reached by road from the turnoff at Kiribathkumbura on the Kandy –Colombo main road and travel along nearly three miles towards Muruthalawa town.

After reaching the veediya of the Devalaya with Na trees for shade on either side leading to the devalaya, while walking through the canopy of trees one gets the feeling of the sanctity of the abode of the deity.

Surprise voice

There are myths and legends related to the origin of the belief centred around the worship of the Natha Deiyo (deity). Once a villager from this area accidentally cut down a Na plant. Lo! To his surprise a red liquid began to ooze out and added to this phenomena he began to fall into a trance and heard a voice calling him to erect a dwelling place and sanctifying it for Natha deity and other deities.

Thus the devalaya at first came to be called Nahimige Kovil and later people began to call it Dodanwala devalaya famous for its miraculous happenings. There is a historical incident that happened during the reign of King Rajasinha II (1635-1687) when the ancient route from Kandy to Balana passed through Dodanwala village. The king one day was on his way to the battle against the Portuguese who were preparing to invade Kandy.

The king wanted to inspect the preparations made by his men through the impending invasion of the Portuguese at Danture. The palanquin bearers who carried the king began to get frightened and could not proceed any further.

They felt that some mysterious power made them halt while they were passing through the devale premises. They humbly requested their king to alight from the palanquin and walk. Ignoring what was requested the king ordered his men to carry him. To his surprise, the crossbar of the palanquin snapped into two.

Trembled king

Thus the king decided to sit under a Na tree which stands to this day and ordered the Kapurala to be brought before him without further delay. When the man appeared before him he trembled with fear. The king told him, “This is a good opportunity for you to show me the power of your god. Now mend the snapped crossbar of my palanquin.

He also said, “In case you fail to do so, I will flatten the devalaya to the ground and I will get you beheaded.”

Kapurala trembling with fear promised the king saying that he would pray and ask the divine power to help in mending the broken crossbar of the palanquin so that he could continue his journey.

Kapurala began to pray to god but to his dismay, he found there was no coconut oil for him to light the clay lamp. He went to collect some water from a rook that could be used to light the lamp, poured it into the lamp and lit the wick. To everyone’s surprise, the lamp was lit!

The broken crossbar was then wrapped in a clean white cloth. Again he began his invocation asking God to help him in mending the broken crossbar. After the conclusion of this religious rites, he asked the king’s men to examine the crossbar. They were surprised to see it in a perfect state.

The king was overwhelmed with joy and proceeded on his journey. Before he left he made a vow promising the deity after he wins the battle he would present his crown and jewellery he wore to the devalaya as a token of gratitude.

Hidden treasure

After he won the battle at Danture, the king fulfilled his vow. Later the crown was removed to be placed in the Kandy museum.

In the 1960s the crown was stolen from the Kandy museum and a replica of it is now on display for the public to view.

It is also said that Na trees were planted by the king to form a veta (fence) and donated lands and fields for the maintenance of the devalaya.

The king ordered the annual Esala Perahera of the devalaya to be held after the conclusion of the Mahanuwara Esala Maha Perahera.

There was an incident related to the power of the Natha deity when a band of Portuguese soldiers who believed there was treasure inside the devalaya made an attempt to enter the premises using their force when they were attacked by hornets that came from inside the devalaya. The intruders had to run for their lives when the Hornets began hovering around them.

Na Puttuva – two Na trees stand close to each other connected by a single branch forming an archway – a marvellous sight to see! It is difficult for one to identify the tree that had sprouted from the branch.

Dragon’s hall

The architectural style of the devalaya has similar features of the Maha Devalaya in Kandy. From the veediya, one can ascend the premises by climbing the main flight of steps, to the Maha Maluwa.

This open pillared hall is the Hewisi Mandapaya where drummers perform during the Thevava times when offerings to the deity are made. At the entrance to the inner sanctum, there is a colourful Makarana Thorana.

Inside the sanctum, there are no statues. Instead, there are portraits of two kings painted on wood and of which one is believed to be that of King Rajasinha II.

Among the valuable donations by the king two embroidered silk jackets, swords and daggers and a carved palanquin. There is also a brass crown below into Vessamuni the demon king.

Above the sanctum is an upper storey called Devata Kotuwa where the sacred weapons or Ran Auda of the deity are kept. Connected to the new building by a low roofed passage stands a building consisting of Muluthange (kitchen), Gabadage (stores) and Vee Atuwa (barn). There are now stone pillars in the place where the Vee Atuwa used to be.

Colourful pageant

The annual Esala Perahera of the Dodanwala Devalaya begins after the Mahanuwara Esala Perahera has concluded. The perahera commences with the Kap planting ceremony officiated by the Kapu Rala.

At the auspicious time of the selected day, a sapling of the Esala tree is washed, wrapped in a clean white cloth, placed in the inner sanctum of the devalaya and the celebrations last for 16 days.

On the first day Kumbal Perahera consisting of flag bearers, dancers and drummers parade round the devalaya for six nights.

The second stage of the perahera is known as Devala Perahera which parades the Veediya passing the dancing for six consecutive nights.

The Randoli Perahera is the grandest of and the most spectacular perahera with caparisoned elephants, dancers and drummers parading the Veediya. In these Randoli Perahera or the golden palanquins bearing the insignia of the Natha deity is taken for four nights.

The Esala festival of the devalaya is brought to an end with the Diyakepeema or water cutting ceremony on the waters of Mahaweli Ganga at the getambe ferry.



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