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Temple Of The Sacred Tooth Relic

Kandy is the last kingdom of more than two thousand years of Sri Lankan royal kingdom history. Nowadays, the number of tourists who come to Kandy due to the beauty associated with the temple of the sacred tooth relic is huge. Let’s figure out a little about the temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, and its history and present.

What is the Temple Of The Sacred Tooth Relic?

Temple Of The Sacred Tooth Relic In Kandy

There is a Castle built between 301-328 AD in the city of Kandy in the central part of Sri Lanka. It is known as the temple of the sacred tooth relic in Kandy. It was built on the east side of Kandy City. In the beginning, there were 3 gates to enter the palace, on the left side there was the private entrance for the accommodation and other quarters of the palace, and on the south side, there is also the entrance to the palace where the relic holds.

In addition to those two gates, there is also a duty gate in the middle for those who came to the palace for duties. This was created by the kings who ruled the state from Kandy at that time and because all the Sri Lankan kings were obliged to protect tooth relics, there is another separate palace that was built to keep tooth relics safe.

Who and why built?

King Wimaladharmasuriya II, who ruled Sri Lanka between 1687 and 1707 AD, first built a palace complex for his living with a three-story palace for worshiping tooth relics and keeping them safe. This palace complex is full of buildings such as administration buildings, residential houses, and more for different purposes. 

Later King Sri Veera Parakrama Narendrasingha ruled the country from 1707 to 1739 AD and he renovated this palace with a new architectural design and also the relic chamber into a new two-storied chamber. During this time, this chamber was painted with yellow and red colors, and also carved animals and trees were on the chamber’s wood wall.  This period is known as the golden age of Sinhala architecture, and art, and also the Buddhist revival period during the Kandy kingdom. The reason for this is that the king who was during this period built Buddhist temples around Kandy and repaired old temples.

What are these tooth relics of Buddha?

Lord Gautama Buddha, who appeared in India, is a teacher who preached a philosophy of non-violence all over the world. Born in India and growing up in India, he spread the Buddhist philosophy he understood throughout Asia. Preaching that all the things in the universe are perishable in the life span of about 80 years, he passed away on Vesak Poya day in a garden named Upavarthana belonging to the Malla kings who lived in India at that time. Later, the body of Lord Buddha was cremated.

But when the Buddha passed away, he wished that “after his death, the bones of the body will remain small”. It is said that some bones and some teeth of the body remained unburnt due to the Buddha’s wish so that they could be worshiped and used as evidence of the living Buddha for the future. They are the Frontal Bone, Clavicle/Collar bone, Canine teeth, Gravy vertebrae, and scalp. Many of these parts were buried in the temples in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan kings performed offerings and the same works are still being done today.

There were 32 special signs of a Great Man in the Buddha’s body and one of these is the presence of 40 teeth in the mouth. Out of these, the canine tooth of the lower left side jaw had been brought to Sri Lanka and it is currently being kept safely in the temple of the tooth in Kandy and is being worshipped.

All Buddhist and non-Buddhist pilgrims, both local and foreign, have been given the opportunity to see the chamber and the castle where the Buddha’s canine tooth is buried. Pilgrimage activities and offerings are still performed today and anyone can participate in these activities.

Who and why brought the relic to Sri Lanka?

Before extinguishing the fire of the pyre, Khema Maharahath took the left lower jaw canine tooth from the pyre went to the land of Kalinga, and handed over the tooth to the king there. This king then built a beautiful chamber to keep the relic there and performed offerings. Thus, for eight hundred years, the tooth relic was in the Kalinga region in India, receiving the great care of the king and his family generation.

Later, during the reign of King Guhasiva, some of the king’s enemy kings came to abduct the relic. Then King Guhasiva instructed his daughter Princess Hemamala and his nephew Prince Danta to hand over the relic and go to Sri Lanka to protect the relic from external threats.

Princess Hemama disguised herself as a Brahmin lady hid the relic in her hair and fled to Sri Lanka on a ship along with Prince Danta who disguised himself as a Brahmin. Sri Lanka was ruled by King Kitsiri Mevan (301-328 AD) when they arrived. Princess Hemamala and Prince Danta went to meet King Kitsirimevan and handed over the relic to the king.

The king was happy and placed the tooth in a precious casket and started offering. Since then, the relic has been revered and worshiped by Sinhalese royal children and is currently living in a precious casket at the temple of the tooth relic in Kandy.

What is the importance of the temple of the tooth relic?

The temple of the sacred tooth relic is a place of worship for all Buddhist devotees living worldwide, and this is considered an important place because of the ancient palace complex and the cultural elements associated with the tooth relics. the terrorists who were in the north of Sri Lanka before 2009, launched bomb attacks on the temple in 1998 because the main religion of Sri Lanka is Buddhism,  and they hoped to break the faith of the Sri Lankan Buddhists and destroyed the Buddhist kingdom in Sri Lanka.

In all those cases, they failed to harm the tooth relics but they succeed with the ancient Palace complex. Kandy is the last bastion of Sri Lankan Sinhalese society, culture, art, and architecture and the temple of the tooth relic is living proof of it.  the Temple of the sacred tooth relic is a very important monument because it is a site where Buddhist heritage and Sinhalese society are frozen together. This place is ancient and a site that has a living testimony of Gautama Buddha and has been named a world heritage by UNESCO.

What do you wear to the temple of the tooth?

Regardless of whether you are a non-religious person or someone who believes in another religion, you should respect the religious place when you enter. Therefore, when you go to the temple of the sacred tooth relic, it is very appropriate to wear clothes that cover the body, otherwise, you will not be able to enter the temple. You cannot enter the temple wearing shorts and skirts and dressing modestly would be comfortable for you and the authorities too.

How do I get to the Temple?

The temple of the sacred tooth relic is located in Kandy city center and you can easily reach the temple after arriving at Kandy from anywhere in Sri Lanka. You will have to buy a ticket to enter the temple and the temple of the tooth relic entrance fee would be around $15 per person. You can anywhere in the palace complex using this ticket.

FAQ

1. Can I wear jeans to a Buddhist temple?

Yes. But should be long enough

2. Can you wear black to Temple?

Yes. No problem

3. Can I wear shorts to Temple?

Not allowed

4. temple of the sacred tooth relic entrance fee

Around $15

5. Is the temple of the sacred tooth worth seeing?

Yes, It is.

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