Dalada – The Sacred Buddhist Paradise

Temples of Asia | | June 2, 2009 at 11:25 am


daladaTo every devout Buddhist particularly those residing in Sri Lanka, nothing sums up greater significance than the sacred Tooth relic in the Dalada temple, in Kandy.  The Tooth relic which is believed to be the left canine tooth of the Great Buddha was sent during the fourth century A.D. by the Indian King Guhasiva of Kalinga to Sri Lanka for safeguarding. Ever since the Tooth relic has been preserved and venerated with high regard and pomp by the kings in Sri Lanka. Initially it was sent to the capital city of Anuradhapura which was in its hay days with thriving economy. About 500 years ago when the downfall of Anuradhapura happened, the Tooth relic was then brought to Kandy.

dalada_2Folklore has it that Kandy faced a series of three consecutive years of severe famine about 300 years ago. When the relic was then taken out on a parade, the situation changed dramatically with heavy rainfall and consecutive inundation. Since that day the tooth has never been moved out.

Countless devotees throng the Dalada temple to seek divine blessings of the Tooth relic that is preserved in sacred casket. One is required to wait in spiralling queues to enter the chamber sanctorum to worship the holy relic. There is ritual morning and evening prayer services offered every day. The pray service is inundated by mesmeric sounds of the drummers and pipe players that signify the commencement of the prayer ritual with the opening of the fabric concealed silver door dalada_3having the image of the batik painting of Buddha.

Many patiently wait their turn, many seeking consent to go further inside. The prayer service commences, with the priests unveiling the fabric painting and the pure silver door. With due consent, devotees are directed to follow in single line to pay reverence. As one enters the door, one finds oneself tunnelling through a miniature room with walls replete with glass storage cabinets housing the donations made by several devotees in the form of gold jewellery and other precious stones, and other forms of offerings. As one surfaces through the narrow stairways to another small room whose doorsill is made of pure silver, where none is allowed to touch it with hands or feet but to cross over it.

dalada_4Once inside the chamber sanctorum, the shimmering, pure gold dome shaped coffer immediately catches one’s attention. One finds the Tooth relic in the innermost coffer, the smallest one of the seven coffers placed one inside the other. The priests with tray full of flowers stand on both sides of the coffer, offering them to the devotees as they offer prayers and another tray for devotees to place their donations. With hardly any place to move inside the place, no one allowed to touch the coffer and long winding queues, the visit is short and quick but a truly enlightening one.

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