Certain ritual practitioners also associated the water cutting ceremony performed at all Pattini devales as well as the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy (usually after their annual perahera) with commemorating King Gajabahu’s journey to the Chola Kingdom – he parted the ocean by striking it with an iron mace and thus walked across to the Chola capital. This event is recounted in the Gajaba Katava, which is sometimes performed during Gammaduwa (village hall) ceremonies (Obeyesekere 1978).
Pattini is the only female deity who is accorded a place of honour within the Sinhala Buddhist (Theravada) pantheon. She is considered to be one of the four guardian deities of Sri Lanka (hatara varam deviyo) and is represented in the annual Asela Perahera, the most sacred and important Buddhist pageant in the country, which conveys the tooth relic of the Buddha around the city of Kandy, in August.
Pattini is also the goddess of fertility and health, a guardian of Buddhism and a bodhisattva aspiring (perum puranava) to attain Enlightenment or Buddhahood.
Some of the devotional claims by Hindus and Buddhists are also overlaid by scholarly claims. For example, several scholars have argued that King Gajabahu returned to Lanka, with Kannaki’s anklet, via Jambukola Pattinam, and that his first stop was at Anganamai Kadavai where he built a temple for her (Sukumar 2009; Krishnarajah 2004; Rasanayagam 1926; Satkunam 1976; Sittrambalam 2004; Sivasubramaniam 2003). This assumption is supported by the argument that the oldest Kannaki kovil in the island is located here and that a colossal statue of a king, presumably Gajabahu, had been built facing this temple. This statue, according to Rasanayagam (1926), was broken by an elephant over a century ago, and P.E. Pieris Deraniyagala who later discovered its head and feet in the kovil premises, deposited these fragments in the Jaffna Museum.
Like many devotees, several of these scholars have also conflated the two events mentioned in the Rajavaliya and Silappadikaram assuming that Gajabahu’s plunder of Chola treasures and the capture of prisoners occurred when he attended the consecration of the first shrine to Pattini in the Chera Kingdom of King Senguttuvan. This compounding of errors is exemplified in Aryadasa Ratnasinghe’s article in the Sunday Observer of 11th January 2004:
The Pattini cult was brought to Sri Lanka from South India by king Gajabahuka Gamani (112-134), along with the gold anklet of the goddess, a statue of hers, together with the statues of gods Vishnu, Skanda and Natha, when he returned to Sri Lanka with 20,000 Cholians plus the 20,000 Sinhalese, taken as captives to India, by the Cholian king who invaded the island during the reign of Vankanasikatissa (109-112). King Senguttuvan compromised with king Gajabahuka Gamani, to send an equal number of Cholians together with the 20,000 Sinhalese.