Large crowd at Koneswaram temple water-cutting festival

[TamilNet, Sunday, 14 April 2002, 14:13 GMT]
The water-cutting ('Theertha Thiruvilah') festival of the historic Koneswaram Temple in the eastern port town of Trincomalee was held Sunday - the Tamil new year day- at the holy well 'Papanasachunai' (spring of evil destruction) which is in the custody of the Sri Lanka Army's Gajaba Regiment stationed in the Fort Frederick. The Sri Lanka Army, however, allowed devotees to use the holy well Sunday.

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The deity of Lord Konesar at Papanasachunai, holy well (Photo: TamilNet)
The Sri Lanka Navy's fire brigade engine was deployed to draw the holy water from the 'Papanasachunai' and sprinkle over thousands of Hindu devotees gathered at the festival.

The Deity of Lord Konesar was taken in a procession Sunday morning to the venue of the holy well, which is situated in a lonely spot surrounded by the Gajaba Regiment barracks about half a km away from the main Koneswaram temple, down the hillock.

An estimated crowd of over ten thousand devotees participated in the festival . The Sri Lanka Police last week vacated the pilgrim rest of the Koneswaram temple, which was earlier, used by police personnel as boarding house for over five years.

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SLN fire brigade draws water from holy well and sprinkle over the heads devotees. (Photo: TamilNet)


Mr.R.Sampanthan, Trincomalee district parliamentarian complained to the Police that occupying temple properties after the signing of cease-fire agreement by the government and LTTE would be considered as a violation of the agreement. The Police have now handed over the pilgrims rest to the temple authorities. The temple authorities have now put up a name board as pilgrim rest.

Hindu organisations and leading citizens have now requested that the holy well 'Papanasachunai' and its surrounding area should also be handed over to the Koneswaram temple authorities to maintain its sanctity.

The holy well has been covered with barbed wire fence. Once a year the SLA allows the temple authorities to clear the area and to hold water-cutting festival. The next day the army authorities cover the well with barbed wire fence.

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Koneswaram's Pilgrims Rest with new name board after being vacated by the Police. (Photo: TamilNet)
"It is high time for the Hindu people to agitate for the handing over of 'holy well" to the temple authorities," said a leading Hindu activist in Trincomalee.

Kavi Raja Varothian records the date of the building of the original Koneswaram Temple in Trincomalee in a Tamil poem as 1589 BC. Kulakottan, an Indian prince, who in the fifth century AD rebuilt and enlarged the Koneswaram temple. The Portuguese destroyed it in 1623 AD. Carved stones of the destroyed temple can been seen today in the ramparts of Fort Frederick.

 

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