Kahawatte Poson Pandol after five years | Daily News

Kahawatte Poson Pandol after five years

Although Poson Poya Day dawns on Sri Lanka every year, Buddhists were not able to celebrate it during the past four years since 2019.

The terrifying Easter Sunday bombings in April that year caused us immense fear and sorrow. We were compelled to forget any Poson celebrations.

As the fear gradually diminished, another menace appeared the following year - 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic enveloped the whole world totally disrupting people’s lives forcing them to undergo lockdowns and many other difficulties and restrictions throughout the past two years. Many lost their lives and even livelihoods.

The pandemic has now begun to recede bringing some relief to us. The country has slowly begun to return to normal. This year’s Poson has dawned amidst this normalcy. In view of this, Guruge Gem Industries, a pioneer in Sri Lanka’s gem industry has decided to exhibit the Guruge Poson Pandol after five years, according to Guruge Director Gayan Guruge. It was nine years ago that Guruge Gems founder Jinadasa Guruge passed away. Gayan Guruge being his only son has resolved to carry forward the religious and cultural service his father began.

“Even in the midst of many challenges I have decided to continue exhibiting the Poson Pandol that my father exhibited every Poson Poya for 52 years” he says. “It is being exhibited from June 14 to June 20. On the 14th the Guruge Buth Dansala provided free meals to the public. On the same evening the pandol depicting the ‘Kuhaka Jaathaka’ was exhibited. It will continue till the 20th. On the 19th night a popular musical group will hold a big musical show. On the 20th night the Ven. Boralle Athula Thera, Chief Incumbent of the Athula Dassanaramaya Borella, is scheduled to deliver a Dhamma sermon”.

Gayan further adds, “Although some people might question whether it is appropriate to have such entertainment during difficult times like at present, I think it is proper to give some kind of relief and enjoyment to the people because of that very reason. Those living in Kahawatte have very few opportunities to enjoy life. People like music, art and poetry. I have heard that in the past when there were no proper roads and transport facilities people had to walk 10 to 15 kilometres carrying ‘chulu’ lights (torches made of lighted dried leaves) to see pandols”.

“During my father’s time musical shows that began in the night ended only the following day. I doubt there is a single old vocalist who has not sung at a Guruge Gems musical show. It is the same with musical groups. The country’s number one Kavi Maduwa (poetry recital show) was the Guruge Kavi Maduwa. People loved my father who made Kahawatte known internationally. Although a lot of money has to be spent on the pandol and other events they will be shown free to the public”.

The person who is well-qualified to narrate the history of the Kahawatta Poson Pandol is retired School Principal Dharmadasa Costa who has been coordinating the work on the Pandol.

“In the past it was Amabalandoga which was famous for pandols” says Costa. “In 1964 Guruge and several others decided to build a pandol at Kahawatte. Among them was Ariyadasa of Pahalakade, Welladura, Wije of the Town Council, Cooray of Kahawatte and Wimaladasa from Bentara who worked in the Post Office were among the others who helped in the project. The pandol artist was S.K. Piyadasa of Panampita, Ambalangoda. The story depicted was Parabhawa Sutra. At the time the total cost was only Rs.5,000. Silverdale Company of Deniyaya provided the generator. Whether they still exist I do not know. Those days difficulties were many. The facilities were minimum”.

The Poson pandol that began on a small scale was later exhibited under the patronage of the Sapphire Sports Club, Kahawatta. The Club President was Mr. Guruge and I was Secretary. Treasurer was A.J.M. Musammil, presently Governor of Uva Province. After several years M. Guruge began constructing the pandol spending his own money. There were no big stages erected at the time. Everything was done inside a small shed with a roof of corrugated sheets. The announcers were Dharmasena Godage and Mahinda Abeykoon. There were no street lamps in Kahawatte Town Council area at the time. Light was provided from petromax lamps fixed at various points.”

The most Venerable Kahawatte Seninda Thera, Chief Incumbent of the Kahawatte Purana Viharaya and Chief Adhikarana Sangha Nayaka of Sivkorale says: “It was the Guruge Poson Thorana that was brought the Poya Day atmosphere of Mihintale to Kahawatte. It was the country’s biggest cultural show held to mark the Poson Poya.”
The Venerable Thera and others including Kahawatte Padeshiya Sabha Chairman Wajira Dharshana de Silva and President of the Sabaragamuwa Pradeshiya Cultural Balamandalaya, Dayatissa Liyanagunawardana among others praised Gayan Guruge for continuing his father’s laudable service.


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