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Twenty More Places of Worship Expected to be Gazetted as Sacred Areas This Year, Says National Physical Planning Department

The National Physical Planning Department has announced that plans are underway to gazette twenty additional places of religious worship as sacred areas within the current year, with nine locations already gazetted.

The forthcoming gazetted locations include the Uddhakandara Rajamaha Viharaya in Hambantota, Dambadeniya Rajamaha Viharaya in Kurunegala, Kotasara Piangala Rajamaha Viharaya in Moneragala, Weheragala Rajamaha Viharaya in Puttalam, Bambarakale Rajamaha Viharaya in Nuwara Eliya, Batapotha Sri Sudharshanarama Purana Viharaya in Colombo, Wanduruppa Theraputthabhaya Rajamaha Viharaya in Hambantota, Kadigamuwa Sri Nagavanaramaya in Kegalle, and the Kshetrarama Rajamaha Viharaya in Matale.

The government is planning to host the National Vesak Festival from May 21 to May 27 in Matale. The festival’s inauguration, under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, will involve the presentation of official documents for the development of the Kshetrarama Rajamaha Viharaya in Matale as a sacred area to the temple authorities by the President.

Notifications for the Henekadua Rajamaha Vihara in Hambantota and the Gonnawa Sri Vishnu Dewalaya in Kurunegala have been forwarded to Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga for his approval, stated the Department of National Physical Planning.

Minister Prasanna Ranatunga outlined the three criteria for declaring a site as sacred and noted that relevant departments have been tasked with evaluating requests to declare sites as sacred areas, addressing any issues encountered.

To date, 130 places of worship in Sri Lanka have been gazetted as sacred areas. Kataragama was the first site declared sacred on October 16, 1961, and this month, the Kshetrarama Rajamaha Vihara in Matale will become the 130th sacred area in Sri Lanka.

Approval from the Department of Archaeology, the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs, and the survey plans of the respective areas are prerequisites for publishing the gazette declaring them as sacred areas, officials added.

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