Nadungamuwe Raja - In the limelight | Sunday Observer

Nadungamuwe Raja - In the limelight

19 September, 2021

Nadungamuwe Raja is the tusker who carried the casket of the Sacred Tooth Relic at the Kandy Dalada Esala perahera. He has been doing this since 2005. This year Nedungamuwe Raja amazed everyone by gently straightening with his foot the white pavada which had gone crooked in one place, before he stepped on it while carrying the casket.

Every year Nadungamuwe Raja treks around a 100 km to reach Kandy to take part in the Dalada Esala perahera.

He is accompanied by his mahout Wilson Kodittuwakku also known as Kalu Mama. The tusker also gets security to and fro from Kandy.

He leaves his home in Nadungamuwa in the Gampaha district about a week before the perahera. He breaks journey at various temples on the way. Nedungamuwe Raja stands very calmly while bhikkhus chant pirith to bless him.

Nadungamuwe Raja was born in 1953 in Mysore, India. He came to Sri Lanka at the age of five years in 1956. He and another young tusker was sent as a gift to a bhikkhu who was also a native physician- Neelammahare veda hamuduruwo.

This bhikkhu had cured a relative of a Maharaja in Mysore of a long satnding mental illness. The grateful Maharajah gifted the two young tuskers to the bhikkhu.

He gave one tusker to the Gangaramaya in Colombo. This tusker was known as Navam Raja and carried the casket of Sacred Relics at the Gangaramaya’s Navam perahera.

Navam Raja passed away a few years ago. The other tusker, now known as Nadungamuwe Raja or Nadungamuwe Vijaya Raja was given to the care of Herbert Wickramasinghe, a former MP for Bandaragama.

In 1979, an eminent Ayurveda physician, Bharmaavijaya Veda Ralahamy ofnadungamuwa acquired the tusker from Wickramesinghe and the tusker was given the name Nadungamuwe Vijaya Raja. The current owner of the tusker is Dr. Harsha Dharmavijaya who is a native physician like his father. Some rituals and traditions have to be followed before the tusker embarks on his sacred task.