The Sacred Bo Tree at Anuradhapura is considered to be the oldest tree in the world. It is considered as one of the most venerated objects of Buddhist worship
The Sacred Bo Tree has a recorded history which is very long. Considered to be a branch from the Bo Tree under which Gautama Buddha attained ’Enlightment’ – Buddhahood, it was brought to Sri Lanka in …… century BCE by Rev. Sanghamitta, the sister of Arahant Mahinda who introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka. The Bodhi , as it is usually refereed to, became the sole object of Buddhist worship until the dagabas and the temples came to be built later. Until the arrival of the Tooth Relic , the Sacred Bo Tree became the palladium of Sinhala Kings. Safety of the Sacred Bo Tree was considered as one of the primary duties of Sinhalese kings. This tradition is followed up to now. Presidents and Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka even today consider it as their duty to visit and pay homage to the Tooth Relic and Sri Maha Bodhi , immediately after their swear in ceremony . Taking care of the Sacred Bo Tree is considered the duty of the State even today.
The Sacred Bo Tree therefore has a recorded history of over 2,500 years. Within it’s premises we cam see a stone image of the Buddha, two images of a former ‘Prathimaghra’, and two ‘Naga gal’, stones with the carvings of a Cobra.
The present wall round the Bo Tree premises , built by a King of Kandy during the Kandyan Period is meant to Protect the Bodhi from wild animals , specially elephants , as Anuradhapura has been overtaken by jungle during that time. It is made out of rubble and is 10 ft high and is 274 ft long towards the east and 388 ft towards the south.
When the Sacred Bo Tree was brought to Sri Lanka, certain families were entrusted with performing various duties for the safety and maintenance of the Bo Tree. These duties were handed down from one generation to another . These families continue to perform these duties up to now.
There are several ceremonies associated with the Sacred Bo Tree. The major ceremonies amongst them are New Year Ceremony, Karthika Mangallaya, Traditional New Year Ceremony and Aluth Sahal ( new rice) ceremony.
In 1960 the archeological department found a pipe line from Tisa Wewa to Scared Bo Tree premises. This was meant to bring water from Tisa Wewa to the Bodhi . This pipe line had been laid by King Maha Naaga ( 573 – 575 CE).