Words : Indika Madapatha Sellahewa
Photos : Nirmala Dhananjaya
Situated in the heart of Mirissa, and built in the 1800s, The Veheragalla Samudragiri Viharaya in Mirissa is the safe haven where people of Mirissa fishing village ran to and sought refuge to save their lives from the Tsunami in 2004.
Ven. Tharaperiye Saranasiri Thero, popularly known as “Podi Hamuduruwo”, to all, is the Chief Incumbent of the temple and proudly talks of its history and heritage when people visit the historic temple. The Thero takes out most of the old paintings and century old crockery and utensils made of brass which were used in the temple for years and talks about them with so much pride and affection. As the practice in all households in the South of Sri Lanka, Podi Hamuduruwo dotes on feeding you with all kinds of traditional sweets and fruits and insists on treating you with sweet meats and tea from the moment you enter the Avasa Ge (The main house where the Theros reside). Some of the valuable historical records in the temple include The Piruwana Poth Wahanse and The Pansiya Panas Jathakaya (550 Stories of the Buddha’s previous lives). The Piruwana Poth Wahanse, containing all the Pirith chantings (placed in a gem studded, gold plated and carved pouch) is taken to all night Pirith chanting ceremonies with much veneration, and kept in the middle of the table while Pirith is being chanted all night to invoke blessings. The books called the Jathaka Artha Katha Potha, Suthra Pitakaya, Vinaya Pitakaya and Abhidharma Pitakaya which all have deep Buddhist philosophical teachings are some of the other books at the temple. Among the other valuable old treasures there are also Puskola Poth which preserve Buddhist writings on Ola leaves.
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