The Sunday Leader

In The Protective And Peaceful Domain Of Dadimunda

By Rajithanganee Unantenna Fernando

It was an unexpected meeting at the Dadimunda Devale: Two retired officers of the Sri Lanka Army, Col. Jayavi Fernando talking to Major Ajith Dissanayake, the present Basnayake Nilame of Dadimunda Devale

It was a Medin Poya when we set off on our sacred pilgrimage to Aluth Nuwara  to visit the revered  Dadimunda Devale. Memories of my childhood came flooding  back to me in the moonlight as I recalled the reverence with which my parents set off on this journey. Then, it was a child merely following her parents, but years later today, there was a greater understanding within me.
Life is filled with unexplainable happenings, for as a child I felt a  strangeness here, then as an adult, it was here that a significant happening took place. The Dadimunda Devale will have a special significance for me for this is where I met the person who I was destined to share my life with.
Anyway, our journey took about one and a  half hours. On the way we passed Mawanella and  at Hingula we turned right and reached our destination.
Aluthnuwara is a small but refreshingly beautiful  village that nestled in the valley. Dark blue green mountains with their peaks touching the sky surrounded this little village and it was almost being lulled by the imposing mountains which seemed to protect it.
It was a  clear day  when we set off and the blue skies formed picturesque surroundings. A few milky white clouds were kicking the mountains tops. Waterfalls cascaded the veils of happy brides and streams flowed down from the mountains. When I saw them in the sunlight they resembled silver chains.
As we entered the village, we felt a serenity that is almost never known in Colombo. Cattle were gracing here and there and not just the cattle, but everyone here seemed to have all the time in the world.
The wind was fresh and it blew across the valley rustling the leaves of the trees. Now and then a flock of birds would fly across the village chirping almost in a shriek. Rows and rows of  terraced lush green paddy fields descended from the mountains like well-laid carpets and this was the scene  as far as our eyes could see. Large trees of  teak, rubber, and Mara gave shade. Coconuts and arecanut palms swayed in  the wind. There were gardens of spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and pepper.
We saw cottages with smoke puffing  out of their chimneys reaching the little gardens in front of them as domesticated animals  lounged in their compounds.  The womenfolk continued with their daily chores, happy without the salons, malls and the nail bars.
This  picturesque village I thought looked like a little piece of heaven that had fallen from the sky.
It is believed that Aluthnuwara dates back to the  King Parakaramabahu II era. There is another belief that Aluthnuwara dates back to the era of caves. The famous Kandy Esala Perahera first came into existence in Aluthnuwara, said the Basnayake Nilame, Ajith Dissanayake. He went on to point out that this is why as gratitude,  the flags of Dadimunda Devale are carried in the first row of the Kandy Esala Perahera.
Today every year in the  month of June the  Aluthnuwara Perahera goes on for a month.
Taking the winding road we reached Dadimunda Devale.
At the entrance there is a square archway with a small entrance to the premises of the  devale. The devale itself is stood atop a small hill on your right side. To reach the devale one has climb three sets of steps. The devale is not large and imposing. It has a long narrow balcony. After climbing  a few steps  you arrive at the first praying area.  This area has paintings on the ceiling. From there a few steps will take you to another praying area,  few more steps will help you to  reach the place where God Dadimunda’s golden effigy is deposited. Devotees are not permitted to this area. However the Kapumahatthaya is able to visit this space. Other devotees will have to pay homage from the two areas mentioned.
Who was God Dadimunda?
God Dadimunda’s name is very famous. According to the Kapumahaththayas the word Dadi depicts strength and power.
It is also said  that God Dadimunda was born to a devil chief called Poornaka and his Naga queen Erandathi. Legend also tells us that the name Dadimunda was given on the day of enlightenment of Prince Gauthama (Buddha).
Another story is that on the day Lord Buddha was almost passing away Maraya descended. Then all the gods and saints who had gathered there ran away in fear. But only God Dadimunda remained hiding behind Lord Buddha’s robe (cheewaraya). At that instant it is learnt that  Lord Buddha had said that  this person is a very strong being. Because of this he was known as God Dadimunda thereafter.
It is also said that there was a ruler of a high cast and a superhuman called Devaka Bandara who lived in this area. He was said to be a chief commander who served King Wickramasinghe.  It is said that he was insanely in love with this region. So much so that  after his death he became God Dadimunda.
There is yet another myth that God Dadimunda is God Vishnu’s minister or representative. Whatever it is,  God Dadimunda is supposed to have immense powers.
The Basnayake Nilame, Ajith Dissanayake told us that soothsayers who have God’s powers cannot translate God’s language unless they go to this particular devale and take God Dadimunda’s weapon like a trident. God Dadimunda also has powers to charm. He spoke of a special efficacy in the power  to heal those who are mentally ill. Thus many vows are made in this sacred place.
Another belief is that people who are possessed by the spirits of demons are also cured. In this instant it is said that God uses his cane to chase away the demon by beating the demon a few times with his cane.
There is also a story that God Dadimunda got a lot of work done by demons. This included the building  of this devale. To prepare the ground to build the devale it is reported that  they had to break and remove a huge rock which he had got done by demons. The demons had not used any instrument to break and remove this rock. But had used a kind of a rope and taken only one day to get this job done.
For anybody who is travelling to or from Kandy it is worthwhile to visit this sacred and historical place and immerse in its sacred surroundings.

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