The Sinhala and Tamil New Year is a very important event in the Sri Lankan calendar and includes the celebration of many rituals and traditions. One such ritual is the ‘Hisa Thel Gama’ (oil anointing ceremony) where a specially prepared herbal oil is anointed on the head at an auspicious time. This year, this ritual was conducted on Saturday, the 17th of April 2021, at 7.16 a.m.
A request was made by the British Council to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Senior Professor Sudantha Liyanage to afford its new Country Director Ms. Maarya Rehman the opportunity of witnessing and experiencing this ritual. Accordingly Prof. Liyanage requested Dr. Lishanthi Wijewardene, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce to organize a visit for the Country Director, to the Gangaramaya temple for the ‘oil anointing’ ceremony.
Dr. Wijewardene accompanied Ms. Rehman to the Gangaramaya temple where they met with Ven. Dr. Kirinde Assaji Thero of the Gangaramaya Temple, Hunupitiya who briefed the Country Director about the history of the temple and the customs and rituals related to this ceremony. At the auspicious time a Buddhist monk anointed Ms. Rehman with oil and blessed her. After partaking in the ceremony and its rituals, Ms. Rehman was taken on a guided tour of the temple by Mr. Sanjaya from Ven. Dr. Assaji’s office. Each person who attended the ceremony was given a plant (Neem/Drumstick) to mark the celebration. Ms. Rehman also witnessed the anointing of the elephant of Gangaramaya by Ven. Dr. Assaji Thero. Thereafter, Ms. Rehman received a blessed thread from Ven. Dr. Assaji Thero, who explained that it was for protection. “It was a great privilege to take part in the Sinhala and Tamil New Year ceremony at the beautiful Hunupitiya Gangaramaya Temple, including the traditional anointing of oil ritual at the auspicious time. I am grateful to the temple staff and especially the Chief Monk Rev. Dr. Kirinde Assaji Thero for their hospitality and for including me so graciously in the ceremony” said Ms. Rehman. Ms. Shiroma Benaragama, Manager Library Information Services of the British Council also accompanied the Country Director.
(Pics by Mr. Pradeep Pathirana of the Daily Mirror)