The lighting of the funeral pyre of the late Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera was conducted a short while ago.
The special casket in which the remains were lying was brought to the pyre amid chanting of Seth pirith by the Maha Sangha.
Large Crowds gathered at the Kotte Sri Naga Viharaya to pay their last respects and later they moved to the parliament grounds to join the funeral ceremony.
The cortege left the Kotte Sri Naga Viharaya at one o’clock this afternoon and religious leaders of different denomination including the Maha Sangha, political leaders including President Maithreepala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, representatives of Civil Organizations were all present.
Update: Thursday, 12 November 2015 - 19:25
The ceremonial cremation process of Ven. Madhuluwwe Sobitha thero commences
Hiru correspondent at the site reported that the chariot carrying the body of Sobitha Thero reached the parliament stadium at 3pm.President Maithripala Sirisena, PM Ranil Wickramasinghe, speaker Karu Jayasuriya, former President Chandrika Bandaranayaka Kumaranathunga and many other ministers along with the clergy are gathered at the grounds.
He further reports that foreign Ambassadors, Generals of the Three-Forces and many State officials have also participated
Update: Thursday, 12 November 2015 - 16:25
Update: Unprecedented crowd waiting to farewell Sobitha Thera; The President joins the crowd
Large crowd have gathered at the Kotte Sri Naga Viharaya to pay their last respects to Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera in the final few hours before the cremation, this afternoon.
Our correspondent stated that several political leaders including President Maithripala Sirisena paid their last respects to the remains of the late Nayake Thera.
People those who are mourning the demise of the Nayake Thera expressed their grief in the following manner.
The cortege will leave the Kotte Sri Naga Viharaya at one o’clock this afternoon and reach the Parliament grounds where the cremation is set to take place.
Religious leaders of different denominations including the Maha Sangha, political leaders including President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, representatives of Civil Organizations and the public will participate in the funeral ceremony which will commence at 3 o’clock in this afternoon under full state honor.
Today has been declared a Day of National Mourning in lieu of the thero's death. National flags are at half mast, at government institutions, in respect of the thera while several households, motorists and private offices are also flying yellow flags to mourn the death of late Sobhitha Thera.
In addition, all liquor shops, slaughter houses, meat stalls and cinema halls have been closed today in respect of the Thera’s funeral.
Meanwhile police stated that a special traffic plan is in place in the surroundings of Parliament ground where the funeral is set to take place.
Meanwhile, before his death at the age of 73, Sobitha Thera made these comments, about how much the public and the clergy love him and respect him.