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|Year and Month||August, 2014 (July 31, August 1, 2,3,4)|
|Number of Days||Day 1,2 of Five Day Trip (View Day 3,4,5 Report)|
|Crew||5 (26 – 42 years of age) namely; Bhanu, Senaka, Darshana, Aravinda, Me|
|Transport||Own transport and Endless walk|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
History behind this holy Hindu ritual (Taken from different sources)
සිංහල ජනතාව අතර “කතරගම දෙවියන්” යන නමින් ද හින්දු ජනතාව අතර “මුරුගන්”, “ස්කන්ධ” යන නමින් ප්රචලිත කතරගම දෙවියන් පිළිබඳ ජනප්රවාද රාශියක් තිබේ. කතරගම දෙවියන්ගේ උපත පිළිබඳව විවිධ මතිමතාන්තර තිබේ. ඉන් එක් මතයක් වන්නේ ඊශ්වර හෙවත් ශිවගේත් පාර්වතියගේත් පුතකු ලෙස ස්කන්ධ කුමරු උපත ලද බවයි.
කතරගම දෙවිඳු මෙරටට වඩින්නේ තනිව නොවේ. ඔහු සමග තම බිරිඳ වන තෙව්වානි අම්මාද මෙරටට පැමිණේ. ඒ බුදු බව පතා චාරිකා කරන ස්කන්ධ කුමරු සමග එකසේ දුක සැප බෙදා ගැනීමටය.
හේනක් කරමින් දිවි ගෙවන ස්කන්ධ කුමරු දිනක් වල්ලි අම්මා දැක ඇය සමග ආලයෙන් බැඳෙයි. ඇයව රැක බලා ගන්නා ඇගේ සහෝදරයන්ගෙන් බලෙන් මෙන් රැගෙන එන වල්ලි අම්මා සමග ස්කන්ධ කුමරු වෙනම දිවි ගෙවයි.
දිනක් තෙව්වානි අම්මා සමග දිය නාමින් සිටින ස්කන්ධ කුමරු වල්ලි අම්මා ඒ දෙසට එනු දකී. ගමෙන් පිට ගිය මොහොතක තමන්ට මැණිකක් ලැබුනු බව තෙව්වානි අම්මාට පවසන ස්කන්ධ කුමරු එය පෙන්වන්නැයි කියූ විට වල්ලි අම්මාව පෙන්වයි. අනෙක් මිනිසුන් වෛර කරද්දි අපි ඔවුන්ට ආදර්ශයක් වෙමුයි පවසන තෙව්වානි අම්මා වල්ලි අම්මා සමග එක්ව විසීමට කැමති වෙයි.
වල්ලි අම්මා මුණ ගැසීමට පෙර අතු පැලක්වත් නොමැතිව ජීවත් වන කල මහ වරුසාවකට තෙමෙමින් සිටියදී වනයේදි මුණ ගැසෙන දෙමළ පිරිසකගෙන් ස්කන්ධ කුමරු – තෙව්වානි අම්මා යුවල අතු පැලක් සාදා ගැනීමට උදව් ඉල්ලයි. උදව් දීම ප්රතික්ෂේප කරන ඔවුනට ස්කන්ධ කුමරු පලි ගසන්නේ කවදා හෝ තොප මා වෙත උදව් ඉල්ලා පැමිණිය යුත්තේද අව්වේ වේලෙමින් වැස්සේ තෙමෙමින් අනේකවිධ දුෂ්කරතා විඳිමින් බව කියමිනි.
ඉන් අනතුරුව සිංහල මිනිසෙකු ඔවුනට උපකාර කර අතු පැලක් සාදා දී තිබේ. ඒ නිසා සිංහල මිනිසුන්ට ඕනෑම මොහොතක තමා වෙත පැමිණ ආශිර්වාද ලබාගැනීමට අවසර ලබා දී තිබේ.
මෙය පාද යාත්රාව ඇරඹීම පිළිබඳ එක් සුප්රසිද්ධ ජන කතාවක් පමණි. මෙවැනි ජන කතා, දේව කතා බොහොමයක් පාද යාත්රාව හා බැඳී පවතී. මේ කුමන ජනකතා ජනප්රවාද තිබුනත් පාද යාත්රාවේ යෙදෙන බැතිමතුන් ඉල්ලන්නේත් අදහන්නේත් ප්රාර්ථනා කරන්නේත් එකම දෙයකි.
උතුම් වූ දෙවිදුනි, අපගේ පව් කමා කර අපට පිහිට වනු මැනවි. හරෝ හරා!!!
We were planning this great journey from more than 10 months ago, reading different articles, gathering information, Calling to Kumana NP and inquiring about the staring dates, weather, etc.
I built up a conversation with one of the Park officers at Kumana NP called Mr. Amarasinghe. After several discussions he promised me to inform the starting date in advance. It is not something which is decided by the Wild life department. It’s decided by the Uhana divisional secretariat. Usually it starts 3 weeks prior to the Katharagama Maha perahera which happens on the July Poya day. So we were hoping to start this journey towards early July; but unfortunately for this year it was postponed to August. Most of the Hindu’s were not aware about this and they have already started the journey from Jaffna.
Towards mid July I got a call from Mr. Amarasinghe and he told me that it will start on 1st of August. So it was very happy news for all of us and we were counting fingers and dreaming about this great opportunity. Even at that time a lot of hindu’s have arrived at Okanda devalaya. As they got to know that it will take another 2 weeks to open the gates; some of them have decided to walk through Siyabalanduwa, Monaragala, Buththala and reach Katharagama. But some of them stayed at Okanda devalaya until the gate was open.
Since we had only two weeks to prepare; we had to speed up. More concentration was put to decide the food and medicine which needs to be carried as we were not sure about the availability of food throughout the journey. We bought food for all 5 days. We took only 3 sets of cloths with a towel and a hat. 2 of them for the walk and 1 was a white suit to be worn to the devalaya on last day.
Finally the day arrived.
All 5 of us got together at our office and left Colombo at 12.30PM in one of our member’s jeep(Bhanu’s). With a single stop at Rathnapura we reached Katharagama by 5.30 PM. We parked our jeep at one of our office mates’ relation’s place at Katharagama . We kept the additional white suit in the jeep and brought all other stuff and equally shared among us. One person (Senaka) was dedicated to carry the tent and all other stuff shared among the others. For each person it was more than 15kg in their back packs including 2 liters of water for each person. From there to Kumana entrance we had arranged a known safari jeep. We put all our bags to that and left from Katharagama around 6.30PM. For dinner we stopped at Monaragala around 9.00PM and by 11.00PM we reached Kumana safely. When we reached there, there were thousands of Hindu’s at Okanda devalaya. We were shocked by seeing that much of a crowd for the starting date. Then we met Mr. Amarasinghe and he had arranged accommodation for us at his quarters.
The jeep was sent back and we went to sleep by dreaming about the big day ahead.
We all got up at 4.30am and were ready by 5.00am. We went to the Okanda devalaya to get blessings before starting this endless journey. We all participated for the morning rituals at the dewalaya. It was a busy place at that time. All were packing their stuff and getting ready for the journey. After the pooja we came back to the quarters to get the back packs. By the time we came to the entrance it was officially opened and a massive crowd was going through the gate. All media persons, Red Cross, representatives from Uhana hospital with an ambulance for emergency were there. Despite all these, the SL army was doing a great job. They got the head count of each group and made an entry on their books and had arranged a Kiribath Dansela also at the entrance.
We also joined the massive flow and started this great journey by 6.00am. After sometime we realized that hindu’s are little slower than us. Later we got know that most of them will stop at Bagure Kalapuwa for the first night, where as our target was මඩමේතොට for the first night. So we were passing most of them and walked a little faster.
Secret behind හරෝ හරා
When we passed each person they used to say “හරෝ හරාහ්”. Then we also got used to say that. We realized that is not just a blessing, it also reduced the tiredness and energized us; I think it’s because you need to get a huge breath to say “හරෝ හරාහ්”. With that you will get more oxygen in to your blood. Hence we also used to say “හරෝ හරාහ්” all the time.
Our first landmark was giant hearth (යෝධ ලිප) and had the first break there for a few minutes. It was not difficult to walk as most parts of the road were covered by trees; and also the energy and the enthusiasm we had was high.
After about 2 hours of walk we reached the ‘බාගුරේ කලපුව’. We stopped there for some time to have snacks and water. After that we started the walk again. Almost all the villu’s are fully dried except the Kumana Villuwa. While we were walking we used to talk to other groups. Most of them were very friendly and some of them shared their food with us.
We passed the Thummulla wild life bungalow (which is under construction) and walked steadily. Then we passed the Itikala Kalapuwa & Yakala kalapuwa. All of them were fully dried. Walk was not easy under the burning sun and on the heated sandy track.
When we reached Kumana villuwa we were a bit tired. Kumana Villuwa was full of life, not like the other parts of the park. Lots of birds were seen, and an elephant was enjoying himself in the water. Recently WLD has built an observation tower right in front of the Kumana Villuwa. We stayed there for about an hour to rest and to enjoy the nature. The wind came through the villuwa was heavenly for us. At a distance we could see the old Kumana village.
After enjoying the beauty we started the last stretch for the day. After about an hour of walk we entered to an area which was full of giant Kumbuk trees. That signed us that we are closer to the Kumbukkan Oya. Finally we reached මඩමේතොට by 1.00pm. By that time only a very few(4,5) groups have reached there. Our first task was to setup the tent on the bank of Kumbukkan oya. We then had some biscuits with cheese for the lunch. That day river mouth was closed and water level was very high at මඩමේතොට. Usually pilgrims cross the river from this place. But with the water lever it was really difficult for the pilgrims. However it was really good for an awesome bath. After some time we all jumped in to the river and enjoyed the water which was enough for a lifetime. We were in the river for more than an hour and then came back to the tent and had some sleep. By the evening, the crowd was increased and there were around 300 people who reached මඩමේතොට. Towards the late evening SL Army collected all the people those who were in between the බාගුරේ කලපුව and මඩමේතොට and taken all of them to මඩමේතොට. Nobody was allowed to stay in between.
After having some sleep we discussed with SL Army about the difficulty of crossing the river from here and then we all decided to find a better place. With them we went towards ‘හෙරලියගස් ආර’ to see the water level. It was the perfect place to cross the river.
In the evening there was a special Pooja at Kuda Kebiliththa devalaya and we also participated. There was another four sinhala groups among the pilgrims. One group was from Maharagama (Nimal Ayya’s group) and they became very friendly with us. For the dinner we didn’t have to cook as they cooked for us as well. They have studied a lot about “Katharagam Deviyo” and related folk stories and they shared those interesting information with us.
And we met another Tamil family who were coming from Jaffna with their school age children. According to them it takes three months for the entire journey. One of the kids has written all the Kovils they worshiped from Jaffna in an exercise book. At that time there were about 87 Kovil names in that book. It was really interesting to study their lives and believes.
Until 11.00pm we didn’t go to the sleep. We all enjoyed the various types of sounds of animals, discussed a lot of things about the history of Pada Yathra, etc. which was really a nice experience. After that we went to sleep.
Since this is a lengthy report and exceeded the limitation of images, I decided to break this in to 2 sections.
Next report will start from Day 3 onward.