Kataragama is a place in Sri Lanka where devotees of all religions come to worship one god, God Kataragama or Skanda. This sacred city was visited by the great Lord Buddha on his third visit to Sri Lanka where he met King Mahasen in 580 BC in the royal garden and preached the King. After listening to Lord Buddha’s Dhamma preaching he attained the state of Sovan, a higher state of being. To honor his state of mind he built the Kiri Vehera, the stupa which stands strong in Kataragama until this date. It was built in the exact place where Lord Buddha did his preaching. On the bricks of this stupa you find Brahmin letters which proves that it was built in the 1st Century BC.
It is believed that after King Mahasen’s death he reincarnated as God Skanda and guards the holy city. The devalaya or the shrine which is built in memory of God Kataragama was built by King Dutugamunu in 161 BC. In the past people visited this place with great difficulty since it was hidden in the thick jungle where there were wild elephants as well. The river Menik flows on the side of the devalaya and as a tradition people clean themselves from this river before entering the holy shrine.
Devotees bring fruits, sweets, and money as offerings to God Kataragama. People shatter their coconuts on a granite slab near the shrine wishing for success and prosperity. The fruit tray should be handed over to the main shrine where they take some fruits and hand over the rest to you where the blessing is completed when you eat them. The Bodhi tree which was planted back in 307 BC is a sapling of the Maha Bodhi where Lord Buddha conquered enlightenment 2500 years ago. Devotees have made it a habit to feed fish in the River Menik where it’s crowded with so many fish because fishing in this holy site is prohibited. If you are planning to visit this holy site, you can choose Jetwing Travels to be your travel guide and it is one of the best modes of Sri Lanka Travel if you are interested in Sri Lanka Tours.