‘Nadungamuwa Raja’ declared a national treasure

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today (March 07) declared ‘Nadungamuwa Raja’ a national treasure following the passing of the ceremonial tusker.

‘Nadungamuwa Raja’ the tusker which had carried the sacred relic casket of the Kandy Esala Perahera the most number of times, died this morning at the age of 69 years.

According to President’s Media Division (PMD), the Head of State has given directives to the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religion and Cultural Affairs Prof. Kapila Gunawardana to take necessary measures to preserve the carcass of the tusker for the viewing of future generations.

Reportedly, a team of officials attached to the National Museum is already in Nedungamuwa in Weliweriya, Gampaha where the tusker was living.

Nadungamuwa Raja, was a celebrated elephant towering around 10.5 feet (3.2 metres) in height, the tallest tamed tusker in Sri Lanka. He has carried the Sacred Tooth Relics Casket at the Esala Perahera for 12 years.

He had his own armed guards as the government had allocated troops to provide security for this majestic animal as it ambled along main roads to attend temple festivals across the island.

There were two regular handlers with Raja in addition to the military unit deployed to clear a path for the animal when it navigates crowded country roads.

Raja was an unofficial national treasure as he was one of the few tuskers chosen to carry the sacred relic casket of the Esala Perahera, an annual pageant at the most sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy.

The tusker used to walk around 90 kilometres to the city of Kandy for the event, called the Esala Perahera. He walked 25 to 30 kilometres a day, travelling mostly at night when it is cooler. – ada derana

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