Wednesday, 19 April 2023

Sella Kataragama Devalaya

Sella Kataragama Devalaya
Sella Kataragama Devalaya (Sinhala: සෙල්ල කතරගම දේවාලය) is a Hindu shrine situated in Sella Kataragama village in Badulla District, Sri Lanka. This place is not only venerated by Hindus but also by Buddhists.

Sella Kataragama Devalaya is located at a short distance from the famous Kataragama Temple, a Devalaya complex dedicated to the Buddhist guardian deity Kataragama Deviyo who is also identified with the Hindu War God Murugan or Skanda Kumara. According to folklore, Skanda Kumara who landed in south Sri Lanka at Wedahitikanda took abode in Kataragama and met his consort Valli Amma at Sella Kataragama (Muller, 1997; Obeyesekere & Gombrich, 1989). Valli Amma was the daughter of a doe mother and hermit father and had been adopted by a Veddah chieftain. Some devotees who perform religious observances at Kataragama Temple proceed to Sella Kataragama Temple to honour the war god's consort (Muller, 1997).

There are a number of stories about how Skanda Kumara met Valli Amma at Sella Kataragama. According to one story, Skanda, after hearing about the beauty of Valli, came in search of her in the guise of a beggar and asked her for some food, drink and her hand in marriage. Valli gave him food and drink but refused his marriage proposal. Just then an elephant who was actually Skanda Kumara's elephant-headed brother Ganesh came crashing out of the jungle and frightened Valli. Skanda Kumara, as pre-planned, saved Valli from the elephant and in gratitude Valli agreed to marry him. This is said to have happened at Sella Kataragama. However, after hearing about his second marriage, Deva Sena or Thevani Amma, Skanda Kumara's first wife came to Kataragama and persuaded Skanda Kumara and Valli to live with her. Skanda Kumara and Valli agreed with that and it is said that the trio lived happily ever after.

#) would like to thank Vishwa Sri Jayasinghe for providing the necessary photographs required for this article. All the photos are published here with the permission of the author.

1) Muller, C., 1997. Children Of The Lion. Penguin Group. ISBN: 9780143416265. p.964.
2) Obeyesekere, G. and Gombrich, R., 1989. Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka. Motilal Banarsidass. p.184.

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This page was last updated on 19 April 2023


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