57th Mihintale Lake House Aloka Pooja : Half a million pilgrims in A’pura, Mihintale

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe switched on illuminations at the second day of the Mihintale Aloka Pooja organized by the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL) for the 57th occassion at the Mihintale Meda Maluwa last evening. The three-day Aloka Pooja Pinkama to commemorate the advent of Arahant Mahinda Thera and the establishment of the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka is held with the patronage of Mihintale Rajamaha Viharadhipathi Ven.Walawahengunawewe Dhammarathana Thera. Ministers Vajira Abeywardene, Ravi Karunanayake, P. Harrison, Chandrani Bandara and ANCL (Lake House) Chairman and Managing Director Krishantha Cooray and staff participated among others. Pictures by Chenaka Wickremaarachchi and Amila Prabath Wanasinghe

An estimated half a million Buddhist devotees had visited Mihintale and Anuradhapura by noon yesterday, according to local authorities, who predicted the cumulative Poson festival attendance may reach close to a million pilgrims.

Anuradhapura Government Agent R.M. Wanninayaka told the Daily News that the National Poson Steering Committee expected that a minimum of 800,000 devotees would gather in the sacred cities this year for Poson religious observances.

Anuradhapura Police SP Divisions Thilina Hewapathirana said that around 8,000 personnel of the Police, Civil Security Department and Armed Forces were being deployed for the protection of the pilgrims at the Anuradhapura, Mihintale and Thanthirimale Sacred City zones.

The first day of the Mihintale Lake House Aloka Pooja was inaugurated on Saturday by Anuradhapura District Parliamentarian Chandima Gamage. Also, the new permanent power supply system costing Rs.30 million by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) was offered to the Maha Sangha yesterday. A large number of devotees had gathered at the Mihintale Meda Maluwa to witness the inaugural switching on of the Aloka Pooja.

Delivering the Anusasana, the Chief Incumbent of Mihintala Raja Maha Vihara Ven. Walawahengunawewe Dhammarathana Nayake Thera said that no politician was genuinely interested in developing the Mihinthale Sacred City to the level of an apex Buddhist religious monument thus reviving its glory and splendour that prevailed during the times of the ancient kings.

“As a result of the April 21st bomb attacks, the country has been gripped by terror while the people have also been affected. Anuradhapura district Parliamentarian Chandima Gamage said that Cultural Aaffairs Minister Sajith Premadasa has instructed that immediate action be taken to gazette the Mihintale Poson Perahera. The Central Cultural Fund and State Engineering Corporation has been directed to undertake to fulfill all required development restoration and rehabilitation projects at the Mihintale Sacred City.

Lake House General Manager Abhaya Amaradasa in his welcome speech mentioned that Lake House (ANCL) Founder D.R. Wijewardene and his family started the Mihintale Aloka Pooja investing their personal funds 57 years ago.

He thanked the the CEB, Ceylon Biscuits Ltd,. the DFCC and NSB Banks, Dialog Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation for co-sponsoring the Mihintale Lake House Aloka Pooja. CEB (North Central Province) Deputy General Manager Shirley Kumara also spoke.