This article is part of a continuing series on the 'Mahavamsa', the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history.
King Mutasiva

King Pandukabhaya was grateful to all those who helped him, in his struggle for kingship. To the east of the city, he built a shrine for the 'Yakkha' Kalavela. A shrine for Chittaraja was built near the Abhaya tank. He conducted religious rites to respect both these 'Yakkhas'. The day Pandukabahaya celebrated his victory, he had bathed in a pond. He enlarged that pond, converted it to a tank and named it the tank 'Jaya'. Abhaya tank built by Pandukabhaya, is known as Basavakkulama today. He built a number of shrines to respect various religious figures.

King Pandukabhaya is famous for building the city of Anuradhapura. It is believed that his town planning was as advanced as the modern day town planning. He was deeply concerned about the cleanliness of the city. He had employed 500 men to clean the streets, another 200 for cleaning sewers and yet another 150 for bearing the dead bodies. All these workers belonged to the 'Chandala' caste. To the north west of the cemetery, houses were erected for all these categories of workers. They were paid regular wages too. To the east of the cemetery, a house was built for 'Nigantha' Jotiya. (A monastery of a religious sect)

In the 10th year of his coronation, King Pandukabhaya demarcated all the villages. He succeeded in changing the lineage of King Vijaya. King Pandukabhaya supported the 'Yakkhas', who are believed to be the earliest settlers of this country. It was they who looked after Pandukabhaya, from his early childhood. As such, he was very generous in giving them whatever conveniences they needed. Some believe that the majority of soldiers in his army came from the tribe of 'Yakkhas'.

King Pandukabhaya, who was 37 years old, when he ascended the throne, is believed to have ruled for 70 long years. According to the 'Mahavamsa', it was his son Mutasiva, who succeeded him. But the 'Rajavaliya differs here, mentioning another son, who is said to have ruled before Mutasiva.

Mutasiva has ruled the country peacefully. He is responsible for developing the park - 'Mahamevna'. The day the king demarcated the boundaries of this park, an untimely, heavy downpour was experienced. Hence the name 'Mahamegha Vana'- which later was simplified to Mahamevna. King Mutasiva ruled from 367 BC to 307 BC.

King Mutasiva had 10 sons and two daughters. Devanampiyatissa was the second son. His virtue and intelligence made him popular among his subjects. When King Mutasiva passed away, Devanampiyatissa ascended the throne. Even the Mahavamsa mentions that several miracles occurred on the day of his consecration ceremony.

Treasures and jewels that had been buried deep down had risen to the surface of the earth. Jewels were seen upon the earth. All this is believed to have taken place, due to the merit of Devanampiyatissa. The king was glad to notice all this. He thought of sending some of these jewels to his unseen friend Dharmashoka of India. The king thought only he was worthy to receive a share of this priceless treasure.

The Chief Envoy appointed to take the treasure to India was his nephew, Arittha. There were a few others to accompany him. Among them were his chief Chaplain, a minister and a treasurer. They had embarked at 'Jambukola' and in seven days, he had reached the city of Pataliputra in India.

Stamp News 248
A dual issue - a rare philatelic event
A rare philatelic event took place recently when the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre was opened in Colombo. The opening of the Centre, which is a donation by the People's Republic of China, was marked by the issue of two stamps released concurrently by the governments of Sri Lanka and China. The event took place on 17 May 2003.

On an earlier occasion, two stamps were issued to mark the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Sri Lanka. The 80 yen Japanese stamp carried a picture of a Sigiriya fresco. The Sri Lankan stamp featured Mount Fuji. The stamps were released on 12 April 2002. (See Stamp News 217).

The Exhibition Centre is in the same premises as the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) and has been constructed in honour of the distinguished service rendered by Mrs Bandaranaike for the sake of world peace as the first woman Prime Minister of the world and as the leader of the non-aligned nations. She was a founding member of the Belgrade Conference, which considered war as a bane of the people of the world. She adopted a neutral foreign policy to organize the world community in order to settle the Indo-China crisis, which was likely to bring about a great catastrophe to entire Asia. During Mrs Bandaranaike's tenure as head of the non-aligned nations, the BMICH was the venue of the 1976 Non-aligned Nations Conference.

With the establishment of the Exhibition Centre adjacent to the BMICH, Colombo can now offer the world a rare opportunity of holding any international conference and exhibition in Sri Lanka. This facility should also boost the tourist industry. Just as much as the BMICH became the largest of its kind in South East Asia, so will be the Exhibition Centre, among similar institutes in the region. The opening of the Centre coincided with the 30th anniversary of the opening of the BMICH.

The stamps issued by Sri Lanka and China feature the Exhibition Centre . The Sri Lankan stamp also carries a portrait of Mrs Bandaranaike and is horizontal in format measuring 60x25 cm. It is virtually identical to the horizontal stamp released on 27 November 2001 to mark the 25th anniversary of the S W R D Bandaranaike Memorial National Foundation. That stamp carries a picture of the BMICH and the portraits of Mr & Mrs Banadranaike. Both stamps have been designed by Palitha Gunasinghe.

Mrs Bandaranaike (1916-2000) had the rare distinction of becoming Prime Minister three times. She was Prime Minister from July 1960 to March 1965 and then from 1970-77. The third stint was from November1994 until August 2000 when she resigned due to ill health.

World Envronment Day
The United Nations World Environment Day was celebrated in Colombo on June 6, 2003. Participants paraded the streets, starting from the Vihara Mahadevi Park, carrying placards protesting against the destruction to the environment in Sri Lanka.

Children from all over the country, including farflung places like Vavuniya attended the gathering.

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