Mahiyangana According to Mahavamsa, Sivuhelaya (Sri Lanka) was peopled by Sivu-Helayos. The Yakkhas (clan) were living in Mahiyangana at the time. It says that the Buddha held a discussion on Dhamma with them. A Yakkha chieftain named Saman (who is now regarded as a deity) attained Sotapanna (First stage in liberation) after listening to the Buddha’s discourse and requested a token from the Buddha that they could worship in his absence. The Buddha gave him a handful of hair relic from his head, which was later enshrined by Saman in a small stupa, 10 feet (3.0 m) in height. This was the first stupa to be built in Sri Lanka during the life time of Lord Buddha. After the parinirvana of the Buddha, an Arhant named Sarabhu brought the Buddha’s left shoulder bone, which had been recovered from the funeral pyre. This relic was also enshrined and the Stupa was enlarged to a height of 18 feet (5.5 m). Since then several kings renovated and enlarged this Stupa. King Dutugamunu raised it to a height of 120 feet. Rulers as Voharikatissa, . Sena II, Vijayabahu I and Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe have maintained the temple. In 1942, a society was formed for the renovation of the temple under Rt Hon. D. S. Senanayake the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. Reconstruction work began in 1953 and ended in 1980 with the completion of a new pinnacle for the Stupa.
Text by Neil Kiriella