2007 Kataragama Esala Festival from July 15-30

KATARAGAMA: The annual Esala Festival of the Ruhunu Kataragama Maha Devalaya will begin on July 15 and end with the Water Cutting Ceremony on July 30.

Basnayake Nilame of Kataragama Maha Devalaya Shashindra Kumara Rajapaksa announced this at a preliminary discussion held under the patronage of the Moneragala District Secretary Rohana Keerthi Dissanayake on May 11 at Kirivehera Rajamaha Viharaya.

Kirivehera Raja Maha Viharadhipati and Uva Wellassa University Chancellor Ven. Dr. Aluthwewa Soratha Thera, Kataragama Abhinavaramaya and Viharadhipati Ven. Kapugama Saranatissa Thera, Chief Adhikarana Sangha Nayaka of Ruhunu Magama Pattuwa, President's Co-ordinating Secretary Pathmasiri Rajapaksa, Commanding Officer of the Sri Lanka 18th National Guard, Major Anura Ekanayake, Kataragama Divisional Secretary P. Atapattu and Kataragama Police OIC Inspector Laksiri Chandimal and officials representing government institutions of Moneragala district participated.

Pathmasiri Rajapaksa said that more than Rs. 2.7 million were paid to the CEB for the supply of electricity for the last year's festival and alleged that the service provided was not satisfactory. He also alleged that a certain officer had claimed Rs. 60,000 as overtime. Under these circumstances a decision will be taken whether the supply of electricity should be given to the private sector.

The Esala Festival organising committee decided to supply additional water bowsers and plastic tanks to cater to the drinking water needs of the pilgrims.

The fumigation will take place during the festival period to counter the mosquito menace said the Moneragala Assistant Divisional Medical Officer of Health.

Kataragama Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Asoka Wickramasinghe said that the whole Kataragama town will be cleaned up seven days prior to the festival.

The first aid facilities will be offered by several volunteer organisations for the pilgrims.

Pathmasiri Rajapaksa suggested to the security authorities to check identity cards of the foot pilgrims visiting this sylvan shrine through Yala National Park.

The damaged lavatories at Kataragama and Sella Kataragama will be repaired before the festival by the Kataragama Pradeshiya Sabha.

The pilgrims' rests will be identified and registered as well as private guest houses for the safety of the pilgrims.

The Wildlife Department in collaboration with environmental organisations will present several street dramas as environmental awareness programmes.

Street hawking will be allowed only on identified areas of the town. Unauthorised vendoring will not be allowed.

The Excise Department will carry out their raids on illicit liquor in the Kataragama town during the festival time.

The CTB depots of Katargama, Moneragala, Badulla will enhance their services to Katargama and train-bus combined services will be started from Matara, Ella and Badulla. Due to security reasons only vehicles with passes will be permitted to enter the sacred area.

Siddhalepa company offered to supply water and medicine to the foot pilgrims arriving from North and East of Sri Lanka to this sylvan shrine.

Source: The Ceylon Daily News