© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Deities Hierarchy Ceremonies Sakra Guardians Twelve Deities

Evening Pujah at the main Shrine to Kataragama

The Guardian and his Assistants presented the Evening Pujah which was preceded by the Women’s Pujah - see section on Women.

The Guardian then carries the first stage of the Pujah into the outer hall of the Shrine by a side entrance. Assistants shield him with the gold cloth. His head is covered out of respect for the Deity.

Second stage of Pujah is then carried in by the same entrance.

 In the meantime at the other side of the temple, the side entrance is fenced off. A special red carpet is unrolled for the Guardian carrying the main pujah offerings  and the Assistants to walk along.

Pilgrims waiting with their offerings, for the temple to be opened for the Evening Pujah

Inside the public hall the pilgrims observe the offering of the main pujah and as it is taken into the inner Shrine by the Guardian they prepare to ring the bells.

Temple Assistants preparing to receive the pujah.

Those pilgrims standing near the bells prepare to ring them. The pujah is ceremoniously brought in by the Guardian and his assistants who walk on the special red carpet towards the Shrine. Two assistants use the red cloth to screen the entrance to the inner Shrine from public view.

After the pujah has been carried to the Shrine, the red carpet is rolled up. The main Guardian receives the pujah and takes it behind the screening curtains into the inner Shrine.

When the pujah has been received the cloth is carried out of the Shrine and each of the assistants pays their respect to Kataragama.

The conch shell is blown denoting this is a sacred ceremony dedicated to a Deity.

The rest of the pilgrims present their offerings, mostly prepared basket of fruits with joss sticks. The Assistants take them from the pilgrims and hand them in to the Guardian to be presented before the inner Shrine beyond the screening curtains.

The pilgrims patiently await their turn in line. Offerings of cloth as well as money, fruits, oil for the lamps and joss sticks are made.

Oil for the lamps

When they Assistants receive the fruit offering baskets, they hand them in to be taken to the inner shrine and then return some of the offering to the pilgrims to share. They bless the pilgrims as they leave the main hall pouring water into their hands and placing a white dot on their foreheads.

They also share out the cooked pujah food, dishing into the hands of each pilgrim.

After they leave the hall the pilgrims share out the remains of their offerings which is sacred food. Women assistants keep the whole area clean and tidy.

Public Pujah

For details of Pujah at the next door Ganesh Temple, see section on Ganesh)