Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya

Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Bellanwila, Colombo District, Sri Lanka. Located around 12 km south to the Colombo city, near Dehiwala - Maharagama road, the temple attracts hundreds of devotees daily and is famous for its annual Esala Perehera festival which usually takes place in the month of August or September. One of the most venerated Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, many devotees flock to worship the sacred Bo tree of Bellanwila Rajamaha Vihara, which is considered to be one of the first offshoots of Sri Maha Bodhiya in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The present chief incumbent of Bellanwila Rajamaha Vihara is Ven. Dr. Bellanwila Dhammaratana Nayaka Thera.

History of Bellanwila Temple

The status of the shrine after the planting of the Bodhi bud is shrouded in the mists of history. There is no literary or archaeological evidence to reconstruct its history. Since Bellanwila was far away from the capital of the island at that time and had no significant role in the history of the island, no mention of it was found in chronicles or other historical documents. Bellanwila is mentioned in the literary works of the 15th century, when Kotte, which is located close to Bellanwila, became the capital of the country.

Bellanwila Esala perehera

The simple Bellanwila Esala perehera that was started in 1947 under the instructions of Bellanwila Somaratana Nayaka Thera has now grown into a famous colorful pageant, which attracts large crowds annually. Today it is one of the most famous annual cultural pageants in Sri Lanka. The Esala festival of Bellanwila, which is usually held throughout a week in the month of August or September in every year, draws many devotees from the district of Colombo and from other parts of the country. The attraction is not only for the colourful features of the procession itself, but more so for the religious activities that leads up to the main event. Bellanwila esala festival includes Dhamma Desana sessions (religious sermons) which draws many devotees to the temple. Invoking of blessings starts with a week long Pirith chanting, which is followed by the processions that parade in the neighborhood of Bellanwila during the nights of Esala festival.

【Text by Lakpura™. Images by Google, copyright(s) reserved by original authors.】