The annual Nanumura Mangallaya of the Tanivelle Devalaya today


The annual ‘Nanumura Mangallaya’ of the Tanivelle Devalaya, Madampe will be held (Saturday August 17), where over 5,000 devotees are expected to participate . The festival will start early morning and continue till evening.

Its location and importance

This great shrine is situated at the 62nd k.m. post along the Colombo-Puttalam main road, just at the entrance to the salubrious suburb, called Madampe. It is a common sight to see multitudes of people belonging to various nationalities and religious denominations who daily commute along the Colombo-Puttalam road break journey at this point. They do so not only to obtain much needed rest, but also to obtain ‘blessings’. All alike pay homage and respect to this shrine as a sacred place, possessing miraculous and mysterious powers. Devotees of different strata of life throng to this shrine to offer their humble homage and invoke blessings in return.

What invariably splashes in to one’s mind on visualizing this shrine is the impression of a milk-white horse majestically galloping towards the shrine. The shrine has a history going bock to the Kotte period, and the bodhi tree at the site is said to be over 250 years old. Thousands of devotees participate in the bodhi tree bathing throughout the year. ‘Nanumura Mangallaya’, the cleaning and bathing of the symbolic weapons which are there in the devalaya from the inception, held annually on a Saturday in the month of August, is the most recognised and honoured ritual among other observances that follow on the same day of this annual ceremony. All devotees who participate in this ceremony are served with lunch on that day, free of charge.

According to tradition, this shrine has been named after the Prince called Taniya Vallabbha, who ruled this region at the time. He was the son of the second queen of Viraparakramabahu VIII of Kotte. The prince happened to be the brother of another famous prince called Sakalakala Vallabha, who was the Viceroy at Udugampola. The chronicle called the ‘Rajavaliya’ contains an account about these two princes. From this account, it is seen that King Viraparakramabahu had four sons from his chief consort and they were namely, Vijayabahu, Dharmaparakramabahu, Raigam Bandara and Rajasinghe. Princess Sakalakala Vallabha and Taniya Vallabha, who helped in the administration of the country during the Kotte period, were the sons the king had from his second consort.

Revenue to Kotte Kingdom

During this period, Madampe happened to be a region that provided much needed revenue to the Kotte kingdom, for it was a well-known trade centre for tusks, gems, precious stones and rice. Its importance as a trade centre was immense, because of its proximity to South India and its close location to such sea ports as Kalpitiya, Chilaw, Puttalam and Negombo. Besides, invading armies from South India often disembarked at these ports. Hence, the king of Kotte was well aware of the necessity of having a powerful, dynamic ruler in this region. This need he fulfilled by appointing Prince Taniya Vallabha as the ruler of this region, delegating the necessary powers to him.

Prince Taniya rules

Historical records reveal that Prince Taniya Vallabha ruled the region with Katupiti Madampe in Chilaw as his centre of administration. He was an expert in martial arts, excelling in archery, cavalry and fencing. It was at this time that an imposter of the Mukkar clan from South India called Kadirayana Mudaliyar alias Adirasarayan, posed a threat to the coastal belt of the region. He succeeded in infiltrating into the region and waylaying and plundering the traders. This not only posed a great threat to the daily life of the people, but also deprived the Kotte king of his revenue. Hence, the king of Kotte informed Taniya Vallabha, through Sakalakala Vallabha, to eradicate this South Indian invaders.

It is said that Sakalakala Vallabha, too, came from Udugampola to participate in this battle. The above mentioned Rajavaliya graphically describes the great feats achieved by these two princes in this battle. They were able to completely massacre the invaders, including Kadirayana Mudaliyar, take much booty, and these victorious feats earned much fame and honour for these two princes.

According to traditional belief, prince Taniya Vallabha was a virtuous and extremely compassionate ruler. His dynamism is legendary. Local traditions are replete with incidents which narrate how this prince with a white turban on his head, mounting his majestic white horse often galloped at lightening speed through highways, byways, paddy fields and estates.

The white horse at the shrine is said to be symbolic of this common sight that prevailed at that time.

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