KiriveheraMany Sinhala Buddhists of Sri Lanka believe that Katharagama Deviyo is a guardian deity of Buddhism and he is the presiding deity of Katharagama temple. Katharagama is also one of the 16 principal places of Buddhist pilgrimage to be visited in Sri Lanka. According to the chronicle of Sri Lankan history the Mahawamsa, when the Bo sapling of Bodhi Tree, under which Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment in North India was brought to the city of Anuradhapura 2,300 years ago, the warriors or Kshatriyas from Katharagama were present on the occasion to pay homage and respect.
The Bo tree situated behind the Katharagama temple is one of the eight saplings (Ashta Phala Bodhi) of Sri Maha Bodhiya in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. This tree has been planted in the 3rd century BCE. The Kiri Vehera Dagoba which stands in close proximity to the Katharagama Devalaya was built by the King Mahasena. According to the legend, Lord Buddha, on his third and the last visit to Sri Lanka, was believed to have met King Mahasena, who ruled over the Katharagama area in 580 BC. It is said that King Mahasena met Lord Buddha and listened to the Buddha's discourse and as a token of gratitude; the Dagoba was built on that exact spot where it now stands. Thus the local Sinhalese Buddhists believe that Katharagama was sanctified by Lord Buddha.