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Located some 19km inland from Tissamaharama is Kataragama, a popular destination of pilgrims from all walks of life. It’s a great place of worship for those believe in Hinduism and Buddhism alike. Apart from them, many a local and foreign tourist from many a creed visit the holy temple of God Kataragama to invoke the blessings of this mighty god, a bodhisattva (one who aspires to reach enlightenment in the future).
The main shrine devoted to the mighty god of Kataragama or god Skandha Kuamara is popularly described as having six faces and twelve arms; his blessings are always sought for worldly gains. The shrine’s origin goes right back to the 2nd century BC.
There’re colourful rites and rituals adopted in the annual procession held in July or August; it’s the foremost event of the shrine with fire walkers and Kawadi dancers. It’s during this time that Kataragama is found at its most exciting.
The tree-lined streets of Kataragama town are flanked by rows of stalls selling garlands & platters of fruit, coconut, mango, and watermelon, which are commonly found among the offerings to the god of Kataragama.
Lying on the banks of Menik Ganga about 4 kilometres North-West of Kataragama is Sella Kataragama, a small township which has been woven into the lore and legends of god Kataragama (Skanda Kumaraya) as much as Kataragama itself.