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Flag-hoisting 2002
Hoisting of an islamic flag at the Mosque marks the start of the Kataragama festival.

Kataragama Esala festival begins

Colombo: The Ceylon Daily News of July 4, 2000

(Kataragama group correspondent)

The annual Kataragama Esala festival has commenced on Sunday evening with the Mangala Perahera following the Flag-Hoisting Ceremony at the Mosque. Devotees of all major communities turned out to witness the colourful proceedings.

After the traditional inaugural prayers by Muslim bawas of the Refai Sufi Order, Kataragama Mosque & Shrine Trustee al-Haj M.H.A. Gaffar delivered an exemplary speech to the standing-room only crowd.

Acknowledging the participation of dignitaries from other communities including Basnayake Nilame of Kataragama Maha Devale Mr. Yasasiri Kasturiarachchi and Thevani Amman Kovil representative Mr. P. Nagendran, he noted that the Esala festival has long been an outstanding example of Sri Lanka's tradition of communal harmony.

"Here Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and others set aside their differences and worship as one people. Since time immemorial, people have assembled at Kataragama at this time," he said adding "with the help of Hayath Nabi, Muslims believe that peace and harmony will return to Sri Lanka."

Trustee of Thevani Amman Kovil Mr. P. Nagendran noted that Kataragama is a unique place in the world where people of many faiths have assembled and worshipped together for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Nowhere else in this world does one find this marvel except here in Sri Lanka, he said.
Flag-hoisting 2000 (18 kb)
Kataragama Mosque & Shrine Trustee al-Haj M.H.A. Gaffar (right), Basnayake Nilame of Kataragama Maha Devale Mr. Yasasiri Kasturiarachchi (center) and Thevani Amman Kovil Trustee Mr. P. Nagendran (left foreground) all spoke of Kataragama's marvelous unity within diversity.

Kataragama Basnayake Nilame Yasasiri Kasturiarachchi described the occasion as the first Esala festival of the new millennium. "This island is not divided communally, religiously, or economically," he said.

"Anyone may obtain the blessing of the noble Kataragama God who helps to solve the problems of His devotees. People come here to draw strength from this holy place."

After the Flag-Hoisting Ceremony at dusk, the Sacred City turned into a glittering fairyland of coloured lights and troupes of dancers both traditional and modern. Amid shouts of 'Haro Hara' from spectators, kapurala-priests mounted God Kataragama upon His tusker and accompanied Him on a short stately visit to the residence of His Vedda consort Valli Amma.

The first day of the Esala Festival passed smoothly amid an atmosphere of wonder and piety. Maha Devale officials expect larger crowds than ever before to witness the festival, which concludes on the morning of 17 July.

Traditions of Kataragama 2003 Interview Series
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Interview with Ruhunu Kataragama Maha Devale Basnayake Nilame Pradeep Nilanga Dhala Bandara
Interview with Śrī Purnanand Giri Swami of Teyvani Amman Devasthanam
Interview with M.H.A. Gaffar, Trustee of Kataragama Mosque & Shrine

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 Islamic Kataragama: The Timeless Shrine
Interview with M.H.A. Gaffar, Trustee of Kataragama Mosque & Shrine
The Story of al-Khadir and Zul-Qarnain
"Kataragama is for all people"
Coming of Mystery Imam al-Mahdi
Kataragama the 'Home of al-Khidr'
Al-Khadir, Alexander and the Fountain of Life
Al-Faqr or `Spiritual Poverty'
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"Flag-Hoisting Ceremony at the Mosque"
"Muslim Pal Kudi Bawa of Kataragama" web site Abul `Abbas, Hazrat al-Khidr web site Dafther Jailany associated with Sheikh Muhiyadeen Abdul Qadir Jilani

Kataragama Devotees Trust