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 Post subject: Sri kailasanatha Kovil, Maradana
 Post Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:20 am 
Sri kailasanatha Kovil, Maradana — A place of sanctity

Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema and Kumudu Amarasingham visit the Captain’s Gardens Kovil in Maradana
@ TML / 28DEC2005

There’s nothing even remotely garden-like about Captain’s Gardens these days. It’s filthy and dusty and definitely does not smell of flowers, unless you count the rotting foliage in the various piles of garbage.

The only clean place is the interior and surroundings of the Captain’s Gardens or Sri Kailasanatha Kovil. That is, like all places of sanctity, beyond clean. The Captain’s Gardens Kovil, situated in Maradana, is one of the oldest Hindu temples in the country. Indian merchants or chettiars founded it in 1792, during the Dutch era. The traders had come to Ceylon to buy cinnamon and other spices, and soon settled here to become ‘middle men’ between local farmers and foreign merchants who travelled long distances from all over the world to buy the produce.


Their stores were situated around Maradana. After Dutch occupation of the coastal areas the invaders taxed the stores and produce sold. A ship captain was installed to oversee affairs, and hence the area under his control came to be known as Captain’s Gardens.

Initially the traders established a shiva lingam or symbol of Shiva under a tree and worshipped it. However with time the wealthy Chettiars decided that a proper temple was needed for worshipping.

Hence they appointed a five-member committee from amongst their elders, and donations were collected to build the temple. Eventually they also bought the surrounding lands, including coconut estates to be given to the kovil authorities so the place would always have an independent source of income. While the kovil is chiefly devoted to Eashwara or Shiva and Shakthi (his consort), it also houses and honours all the Hindu gods including Durga, Vishnu, Skanda, Lakshmi, Saraswati, the nine gods of the planets and a temple for Ganesh. In fact, the grounds house two kovils according to the chief priest, one for Ganesh (the elephant headed god) and the other for Eashwara. Ganesha — the elephant-deity riding a mouse — has become one of the commonest mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. This not only suggests the importance of Ganesha, but also shows how popular and pervasive this deity is in the minds of the masses.


The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha has an elephantine countenance with a curved trunk and big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. He is the lord of success and destroyer of evil and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. In fact, Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the other four) whose idolatry is glorified as the panchayatana puja.

The devotees of Ganesha are known as Ganapatyas, and the festival to celebrate and glorify him is called Ganesh Chaturthi.

Ganesha’s head symbolises the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha’s left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties. The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata. The string of beads in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to his followers’ petitions. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms.

And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse. Shiva or Eashwara is the destroyer of the world, following Brahma and Vishnu, creator and preserver respectively – the Hindu Trinity as it is sometimes known. He is the god of yogis, self controlled and celibate, while at the same time the lover of his spouse Shakthi.

Shiva represents the destruction of all base desires in man, and is known as The Pure One. Shiva is conceived in his unborn, invisible form as Lingam (symbol of male creativity), accompanied by Yoni, the female creative principle. A temple, devoted to father and son as it were, must be special, which possibly accounts for Captain Gardens or Sri Kailasanatha Kovil’s unending stream of devotees.

From all the past and present leaders to the humblest peasant, no one it appears, is exempt from asking and being granted favours and mental solace in times of distress. The kovil was one of many places of worship that held a special Shanthi Pooja and alms giving on December 26, for those who lost their lives to the tsunami.

 Post subject: Sri Kailasanatha Swami Kovil - Colombo
 Post Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 10:46 pm 
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Sri Kailasanatha Swami Kovil - Colombo

Built in 1783, Sri Kailasanatha Swami Kovil is one of the most famous and most frequented kovils in Sri Lanka. Buddhists and Muslims as well as Hindus are present at the time of the daily pooja.

By Rathindra Kuruwita
@ Source: The Nation /14Jan2007

It is an exotic, beautiful and magical place where a spiritual atmosphere permeates all amidst the hustle and bustle of Colombo. Situated close to the Maradana Railway Depot, at the quaintly named, Captain’s garden, it is a place where you feel the aura of a power accumulated through centuries of religious rites performed inside these walls…

The site has been a place of worship from the ancient times. According to Marugan, a Hindu priest: “although the known history of the kovil begins in the early 18th century there are reasons to believe that this has been a sacred site long before that. The beginnings of the present kovil premises is shrouded in myth. It is said that a Captain of the Dutch Navy was given quarters in this place. Being a devout Christian, he wanted to get rid of a Shiva Lingaya which had been in the premises since ancient times. He ordered his servant to throw this symbol of a heathen religion in to the Beira Lake, only to find it in his garden the next day. Suspecting that his servant was disobeying him because of his beliefs, he threw the Shiva Lingaya into the lake himself. But when he found that it had reappeared, he understood that he was dealing with a higher power. He moved out of this place and convinced the Dutch Government to reserve a piece of three acre land to build a kovil.”

Built in 1783, Sri Kailasanatha Swami Kovil is one of the most famous and most frequented kovils in Sri Lanka. Buddhists and Muslims as well as Hindus are present at the time of the daily pooja.


The temple can be entered from the East via a gopura or a gateway, flanked by two huge guardian figures with various Shiva legends. The shrine tower is seven storeys tall. The exterior is decorated with dozens of painted sculptures of gods. In the interior, the inner sanctum contains a massive Shiva lingam that is the object of devotion. The inner gopura is the Sri Kailasanatha Swami temple. Plaster sculptures on the roof – lotus flowers, represent the universe.

The temple compound includes a shrine with an octagonal dome, a pavillion, a porch with overhanging eve, a columned hall, antechambers, and a towered sanctuary, and other, smaller shrines. Like most Shiva temples and shrines have a sculpture of Nandi, Shiva’s mount, who faces the enshrined within the temple. The columned porch fronts the columned hall which leads to the sanctuary. The sanctuary walls contain finely carved figures of Shiva and other gods while dancing Shiva figures cover one wall.

Although the Ganadevi Kovil is the oldest of the two, built in 1703, it is dwarfed by the Sri Kailasanatha Swami Kovil, which towers over it like an elder brother. But this is not to claim that it is less respected or less visited. “People from all nationalities and religions come to this place for solace and for prayer and many believe in the miraculous powers of the kovil. Most of the leading citizens of Sri Lanka including presidents, prime ministers and ministers come here before they embark on an important event. I can remember that back in the late eighties and early nineties, President Premadasa frequented the kovil every month, he believed that he felt the presence of divine powers,” said the Kovil’s Head Priest Suwa Shivam Aiyar


“Every day we have six poojas from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. at regular intervals. We cook kiribath and offer them to God Shiva. Many people come on these occasions to offer alms to the god. On special occasions, such as Eeshwara and Paththini festivals, the above mentioned times change in line with the activities,” said Sama Shivam Aiyar. “The Eeshwara festival is in August while the Paththini festival is in February. Normally we start the celebrations with hoisting the flag. We carry the statues of gods away from the temple, preferable to a river, then we come back to the temple. Devotees usually carry milk and honey on either end of their Kavadies. After entering the temple grounds, the devotees circle three times around the temple. When they are inside the temple, the milk and honey are poured over the statue. The festival concludes with the de-hoisting of the flag”.

“A special festival we have in this kovil is a special pooja we have on Poya days. After we make offerings to the gods, we have an almsgiving. A lot of Buddhists attend the pooja since it’s a special day for them as well” he added.

As mentioned the kovil is popular among the Buddhists as well as Hindus. Mr. Amarabandu, a 45 year old Buddhist said he believes this is a special place. “Our family has been coming here since the tie time of our grand parents. My grandmother said that when they first came here, there was only a small path one foot wide. The kovil was surrounded by forest which is hard to picture now. My mother once saw a vision of Lord Katharagama and she visited this place every year till the day she died,” he said.

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