Muthu Kuda

The modern-day umbrella is used as protection against rain. However, its original purpose was to shade a person from the sun. Likewise, there is an abundance of references to the usage of umbrellas in art and literature, universally. When it comes to Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka, it is a device used to shield Buddhist monks from the effects of nature.

The noble past of the umbrella

The earliest known umbrellas can be seen in Egyptian artistic form dating back to the fifth dynasty, circa 2450 BC. Moreover, even today, one can see many temple wall paintings depicting a servant holding a parasol (umbrella) over a God. In like manner, this image is mostly depicted during a procession. To put it differently, intricate expertise was needed to hand-make them in ancient times. For this reason, umbrellas became objects of power and status. In particular, they were used to protect important people, such as gods, royalty, and religious leaders. For example, this led to many religions adopting umbrellas as part of their ceremonies. Similarly, Muthu Kuda was associated with Buddhism since its inception.

The significance of the Chatra (umbrella) symbol

As mentioned in ancient chronicles, the Chhatra meaning “umbrella”) is an auspicious symbol in Hinduism, and Buddhism. Overall, according to Hindu mythology, it is the emblem of Varuna, also considered an embodiment of kingship. Ultimately Chhatra is also a deity. In brief, a number of deities are depicted with chhatra, and they include Revanta, Surya, and Vishnu (in his Vamana avatar). In Vajrayana Buddhism, the umbrella or parasol is included in the ‘Eight Auspicious Signs’ or Ashtamangala. Yet, the origin of the chhatra or parasol symbolism actually comes from India – the birthplace of Buddha himself. This chhatra or parasol is considered a precious parasol umbrella associated with equality and universality among men.

Chatra (umbrella)

What is a Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka?

A Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka is not used by all and sundry. In effect, they are primarily used to shield Buddhist monks. The ostentatious use of the Muthu Kuda signifies it as a step above the ordinary. Henceforth, that is why we don’t see a layman carrying or using a Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka.

What differentiates a Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka?

# Fabric colour

The fabric of the canopy is made with polyester fabric. It is saffron in colour. We also see many Muthu Kuda in orange colour. Why orange? The orange colour is associated with the Theravada Buddhist followers in Southeast Asia. Thus, there is a connection

# The tip

The tip of the Muthu Kuda is riveted to a carved wooden object signifying a sphere.

# Wooden Handle

Apart from the canopy, the wooden handle is the single most customisable element of the Muthu Kuda. Accordingly, the wooden handle dominates the larger portion of the shaft.

# Perimeter tape

The perimeter tape is fixed with ornate sequins and tussles giving the Muthu Kuda a majestic look.

# The shaft

The pole or shaft of the umbrella symbolises the celestial pole representing the connection between heaven and the earth. Consequently, Buddhists give the Muthu Kuda importance as it is associated with a temple in motion

# Shape

The dome of the umbrella is held aloft by a vertical handle similarly like the mountain upholds the sky), which is identified with the central axis upholding the world. To enumerate, Muthu Kuda made in octagonal shapes are also common. To emphasize, the octagon shape represents the Nobel eightfold path, one of the principal teachings of Buddhism. For instance, it consists of eight practices: right view, speech, resolve, conduct, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and right samadhi. For example, the dome shape of the umbrella symbolizes wisdom, and the hanging skirt, compassion. Significantly, the composite form of the umbrella signifies the union of these dual elements.

How many panels does an umbrella have?

The usual Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka has eight panels, and as many as twelve can occasionally be found. At one point, the number of panels in an umbrella was an indication of the quality of attention, the umbrella maker paid to his product. That is to say, the more panels an umbrella has, the more sturdy and long-lasting it will be.

Types of Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka

There are simple Muthu Kuda designs and ones embellished with triple pagodas. You can also buy Muthu Kuda printed with various Buddhist icons. They consist of a “Bodhi Tree” leaf, dharma wheel representing knowledge, and lotus flower representing purity and enlightenment. The conch shell represents the spreading of the teachings of the Buddha far and wide. Also, one will find models ornately decorated with sequins.

Muthu Kuda and Buddhism

Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka

When a Muthu Kuda is open, the shape is like a dome or a stupa housing sacred relics. Similar to the rays of the Buddha, casting its shadow of protection on the earth. Notably, you can hoist a Muthu Kuda above an important person or shield the image of a deity. Besides, when you use Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka, it denotes that deities are entitled to respect.

Subsequently, what does the parasol (umbrella) represent in Buddhism?

In Buddhism, the parasol is a sign of royal dignity and ostentation. Besides, it offers protection from the heat of the sun. More importantly, the umbrella also represents protection from the negative forces, like greed, lust and suffering. It is believed, such negative forces are barriers, in the path towards enlightenment.

Katina Pinkama in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, Katina is offered to Buddha on the Vap Full Moon Poya day. In effect, Katina Pinkama ceremonies are performed in Buddhist temples during the period from Vap Full Poya day to Il Full Moon Poya Day. Significantly, these Katina pinkams are being organized all over Sri Lanka villages after the three months which are called’ Vas thun masa. Specifically, people eagerly wait for the ceremonial function as they believe that they can accumulate great merits by participating in the Pinkama. With this in mind, Buddhist monks in village temples give leadership to assist the people to do the Pinkama during this period. In the words of Buddha, this is the noblest religious activity for Buddhists, in which limitless merit is accumulated. Muthu kuda is used in such ceremonies.

Using Muthu Kuda in Buddhist processions

The term perahera, primarily meaning “procession,” signifies a popular Buddhist ceremony replete with many rituals, commencing and culminating respectively with the kap-planting and the water-cutting ceremonies. Uniquely, these two ceremonies are respectively the introductory and the concluding rites of the annual Esala festivals, held in July and August in various parts of the island. Accordingly, they are essentially connected with the Buddhist deities, either to invite their blessings or to give thanks to them for favours received. Thus, during this period every year, such religious festivals are held in almost all the religious centres of Sri Lanka. In essence, the muthu kuda is an important element of these processions.

Where to buy a Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka?

Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka can be purchased online through Further, they are available at Religious goods stores located in any major town. In general, a four and a half feet high-quality Muthu Kuda is priced around Rs 5,350 upwards. Moreover, there are elaborate designs priced around Rs. 10,000. 

Advantage of buying Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka online

When buying online from Kapruka, those living overseas in countries such as Australia, the Middle East, Canada, or any other country can easily order a Muthu Kuda. Likewise, you can get it delivered to your contact in Sri Lanka through Kapruka. Subsequently, they can gift it to a Buddhist Monk on your behalf.  The other advantage is that Kapruka delivers to any address in Sri Lanka. In effect, this is an immense advantage, as shops selling religious ornaments like Muthu Kuda cannot be found around your home, most probably. Along with Muthu Kuda, you can easily gift pirikara, religious books, and ornaments from

Comparatively, the delivery charges at are very reasonable considering the advantage you get. Additionally, there are many payment methods available at Kapruka for the payment flexibility of customers.


When a Monk or a group of Monks visit a home or business establishment to chant blessing, it is a traditional norm to give them a gift or offering. Indeed, such gifts form an appreciation a layperson can portray to the faith. However, when you give a gift to a monk it is not considered charity. But rather an exchange, as the Monks have provided his gift in the form of Buddhist teachings. All in all, many routine things that a Monk would need could be offered. At the same time, you can present Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka, as religious offerings.

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