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|Author:||Saman [ Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:26 am ]|
Mirisawetiya Stupa is a marvellous construction by King Dutugemunu. It was his first dagoba. The king built the stupa as one of the stupa complex of the Maha Vihara fraternity. However, with the arrival of monks, later Mirisawetiya also developed as a separate monastery, under the management of Mahavihara.
The story of the stupa is wonderful. According to legend, King Dutugemunu had carried a sceptre with the Buddha’s relics wherever he went. It was not an ordinary sceptre; it was the sceptre used in the battle against Elara. One day while going to Tissawewa to attend a water festival, the king had planted the sceptre in a secure place. After the festival when the king returned for the sceptre, he could not remove it from the place.
Awe-struck by the unusual incident, the king had decided to build a stupa enclosing the sceptre.
There are many legends about the way the stupa was named. In the olden days, it was a custom among Buddhists to offer part of their meal to bhikkhus. Once the King had forgotten the custom and had partaken a chilli curry without offering a part of it to the bhikkhus. Therefore, the stupa was named ‘Mirisawetiya’ (the pod of chilli) as an apology. However, according to some historians Mirisawetiya was the village where the stupa was situated. So, the stupa automatically got its name as Mirisawetiya.
Several kings had renovated the Stupa. King Gajabahu I put a new coating while King Woharika Thissa restored the umbrella of the Stupa and rebuilt a wall around it. After the Chola invasions, King Kassapa V did the restorations needed for the Stupa. After the recurrent Chola invasions it was King Parakramabahu I who did the restoration and at this point he had built the stupa to a height of 120 feet. In 1873 when the Englishman Henry Parker found Mirisawetiya as a pile covered with trees and an undergrowth. In the process of the excavations they had found a magnificent Vahalkada and at that time, the Stupa was 200 feet tall. The excavators had also found an image house to the west of the Stupa. The excavations were continued hoping that there would be three more image houses on each side.
However, when they realised that the image house on the east was destroyed, the excavations were stopped only to be started again in 1883 and they found two image houses to the North and South of the Stupa. In 1980, during a restoration process, the construction had collapsed even destroying the vahalkada. The incident drew the attention of the media especially since it happened the day before the scheduled opening. The present Viharadhipathi of the monastery Etha Wetunawewe Gnanathilake Thera has been involved in many development projects of the stupa for the past ten years.
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