Venerated Indian tusker, Nadungamuwa Raja, bearer of the Buddha tooth relic at the Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka, died at the age of 69 on Monday.
Born in 1953 at Mysore, Nadungamuwa Vijaya Raja popularly known as Nadungamuwa Raja was the tallest tamed tusker in Sri Lanka.
The tusker has the record of carrying the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha which is most sacred for Buddhists in Sri Lanka.
According to the records, Nadungamuwa Raja was one of the two elephant calves gifted by a Mysuru king to a Sri Lankan native physician monk in appreciation of curing one of king’s relative of an illness.
The other elephant calf gifted to Sri Lanka, Nawam Raja, who carried sacred relics at the procession of Gangaramaya temple in Colombo died in 2011.
Raja, was named Nedumgamuwa, the village of its owner situated 35 km off from capital Colombo.
Nadungamuwa Raja was also one of the four elite and chosen tuskers, with several specific physical and behavioural characteristics, who could carry the sacred relics at the world renowned religious procession which takes place annually during full moon day of July.
Considered a national treasure, Nadeungamuwa Raja was one of the most protected tuskers who had its own security details with military unit deployed when the animal took 90 km walks from his owner’s resident in the outskirts of Colombo to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.
Discussions are underway to offer a state funeral to the tusker.