Here’s How You Give a ‘Daanaya’ the Right Way

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Words : Mandulee Mendis
Photos : Jagath Dharmakeerthi

Alms giving or quite familiarly ‘daanaya’ is a traditional practice in Sri Lanka, which is done with the intention of collecting virtues for the living and the dead. It’s a serene process that brings about contentment through giving, just as the word daanaya implies. An ‘alms giving’ could be done as a family tradition, in remembrance of the dead or even for a birthday. It’s a complex process which holds a myriad of traditional practices and values in it and you clearly need guidance. If you always wanted to give a daanaya but didn’t know the right way, this article is for you.

Inviting the Monks

After you fix a date for the daanaya, step one is to invite the monks. It is the tradition to carry a bulath heppuwa covered with a white cloth with a pirikara, which could be anything useful such as milk powder, sugar, tea leaves etc. If the visit is in the morning, people usually carry eatables such as fruits and if it’s after 12 noon, gilan pasa such a plain tea, coffee or kottamalli.  The heads of the family, the father and mother should usually go and invite the monk who is the head priest of the temple. The reason for holding the alms giving, the date and the time you will pick the monks up, should be clearly mentioned.

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