- Location: Main Office Ruhunu Maha Kataragama Dewalaya, Kataragama 91400, Sri Lanka
- Festivals: Kataragama
- Main Deity: Kathirkaman; Pandara Nayakan (Sinhalam)
- Languages: Tamil
- Darshan Timings: 05.30 AM To 08.00 PM
- Best Season To Visit: May, April, and July
- Kataragama Temple Contact Number: +94472235122
Kataragama temple is located in Sri Lanka, Kataragama town. Kataragama temple is dedicated to the Buddhist guardian deity Kataragama and Hindu god Murugan. It is one of the few religious sites in Sri Lanka which is venerated by Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslim people. In the past, it was a jungle shrine very difficult to access but today it is accessible by an all-weather road. The shrines and nearby Kiri vehera are managed by the Buddhists. The shrines of Teyanai and Shiva are managed by the Hindus and the mosque is managed by Muslims.
The Shrine has for centuries attracted Tamil Hindus from Sri Lanka and south India since the latter half of the 20th century. The site has risen dramatically among Buddhists who today constitute the majority of the visitors. The cult of Kataragama deviyo has become most popular amongst the Sinhalese people. A number of legends and myths are associated with the deity and the location which all differ by religion.
The priests of the temple are known as kapuralas and it is believed to be descended from the Vedda people. Veddas also have a claim on the temple. Nearby mountain peaks and locality through a number of legends. The temple complex is also connected to other similar temples in the eastern province which is dedicated to the Murugan. In the south of the island, Arunagirinathar traversed this pilgrimage route in the 15th century. The entire complex was declared a holy place by the government of Sri Lanka in 1950. Then political leaders have contributed to its maintenance and upkeep.
There is a number of legend behind the origin of the shrine. As per Heinz Bechert and Paul Younger the mode of veneration and rituals are connected with the Kataragama deviyo is the survival of the Vedda mode of veneration that was preceded by the arrival of Buddhist and Indo-Aryan culture in the last centuries BCE. Hindus, Buddhists, and even Muslims have tried to co-opt the diety.
As per s.pathmanathan, the original Kataragama shrine was established as a guardian deity shrine to Skanda-Kumar within a Buddhist temple complex. Then this shrine becomes idealized as a very spot amongst the local Tamils and Sinhalese.
Different Evidence for Kataragama Temple
The first literary mention of Kataragama in the context of a sacred place to Kantha-murugan in the 15th-century poems of Arungirinathar.Traditions clams that he visited the forest shrine before he composed the poems.
The temple has a number of ancient ruins and inscriptions. Based on dated inscriptions found nearby the Kiri vehera is believed to have been built or renovated around the 1st century BCE.
The festivals and daily rituals are not based on standard Hindu or Buddhist rituals. Which follows what Paul younger calls ancient Vedda traditions of worship.
The main festival is known as Esela Perehera. This festival is celebrated during the months of July and August for about 45 days.
Kataragama temple Darshan Timing
|Monday To Friday||4:30 A.M TO 11 P.M|
|Saturday & Sunday||9:30 A.M TO 11:30 P.M|