Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple located in Bellanwila, Sri Lanka. Many pilgrims come to worship the sacred Bo tree at the Bellanwila Rajamaha Vihara, one of Sri Lanka’s most revered Buddhist temples near the city of Colombo, the first branch of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The current head of the Belanwila Rajamaha Viharaya is Leader of the Belanwila Dhammaratana Thera. This temple is so sacred that there is a long held belief that a child will never fail in life when he sinks under the shade of a frightened Bodhi tree.
The Bellanwila Temple has a long and holy history. The sacred Bodhi tree is the reason for the great sacredness associated with the temple. There is authoritative literary evidence in ancient texts such as Sinhala Bodhiwansa that this Bodhi tree is one of the thirty-two plants from the sacred Bodhi Tree of Anuradhapuraya planted in the 3rd century. B.C.E. The recorded tradition is as follows: Bodhi tree brought from India to Sri Lanka was planted in Mahamegawana in Anuradhapura with five branches. When the sapling grew to a tree, eight new plants sprouted from its eastern side. These are known as Astafalaruka-Bodhi trees and were planted in eight different places on the island. Of the other four branches, thirty-two additional sprouted sprouts were distributed throughout the island. One such tree is the sacred Bodhi tree in Bellanwila. The reason for choosing this particular location in Bellanwila is not clear. Scholars have made various assumptions. But it is acceptable that even at such early times, this place was recognized as a holy place. Also, there may have been a well-established shrine with the resident monks here.
The status of the shrine has been covered with fog in history since the Bodhi-Tree planting. There is no literary or archaeological evidence to reconstruct its history. Bellanwila was much larger than the island’s capital at that time and had no significant role in the island’s history, so no mention of chronicles or other historical fiction is found.
Established in 1947 on the instructions of the Leader of the Belanwila Somaratana Thera, the simple Belanvila Esala Perehera (Perahera) has grown into a popular and colorful show which attracts a large number of people annually. Today it is one of the most famous annual cultural competitions in Sri Lanka. Held annually in August or September, the Bellanwila Esala Festival attracts many devotees from Colombo and other parts of the country. The attraction is not only for the colorful aspects of the procession but also for the religious activities leading up to the main event. The Belanwila Essala Festival includes Dhamma sermons (religious sermons) which attract many devotees to the temple. The Bellanwila Esala Festival consists of a series of Deva-Doota Perahera, Kumbal Perahera, Mal Perera, Pavada Perera, Ransivili Perera and Randoli Perehera.