Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A family.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The photographers - Rathnapura, Sri Lanka.

The digital camera has reached every part of this Island of Sri Lanka. Starting with the cell phone cameras to the more sophisticated models, the camera is very popular now. Print outs cost money, but access to a computer has made photography dirt cheap, after the initial expenditure for the camera. Storage of about 500 pictures on a CD costs, only SL Rs15/-.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mother and child, Rathnapura, Sri Lanka.

It is said that in the caring of its offspring, the cat carries the kitten by holding the infants neck in its mouth. The responsibility here is with the mother. The monkey on the other hand expects its infant to hold on tight to its mother's body and leaves the responsibility to the infant. Here you see a monkey-mother cuddling and protecting its baby.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The 'Nestorian cross' - around 500AD at the Museum, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

Christianity came to South India long before the European invaders. Malabar still has a Christian community dating back to the Apostle Thomas. Marco Polo described this in his travels. He saw a tomb with a Nestorian cross which was shown to him as the tomb of St.Thomas in South India. Nestorian missionaries had reached Japan and China subsequently. The Nestorian Cross in the Anuradhapura museum is dated around 500 AD.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bearing 'pirikara' (gifts to monks), at a Buddhist temple, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

On a full moon (Poya) day, devotees are seen carrying gifts for the monks in the Buddhist temple, at Manickawaththe in Avissawella. This was around 6pm on 5/8/2009.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An arch bridge built of granite stones, Rathnapura, Sri Lanka

Bridges built of stones were an innovation, pre-dating the Roman times. The arch with the 'key-stone', supported the load over a waterway. When railways with their heavy steam engines appeared in the latter part of the nineteenth century, cheaper alternatives to the stone bridges had to be found. It was the French engineer Eiffel, who pioneered the building of railway bridges with steel girders. In Sri Lanka we have quite a few old stone bridges with arches, built by the British. The above is one of them seen in the Rathnapura district.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A waterfall in the Sabaragamuwa, Sri Lanka.

'Doovili Ella' on the Kaltota road from Balangoda.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

'Rattan weaving couple, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

A husband wife team in their late 50s, came to the gate of my house and inquired, if there were rattan chairs to be weaved. The bottom part of the chair would take about 2 hours to weave and cost me Rs.1000/-. The man did weaving in the 1950s, later he took up to textile sale in ‘polas’ – weely village markets. After the JVP troubles in the 1980s, he had to give up the sale of textiles. He went back to rattan weaving. They have a son who became a Buddhist priest. This was the result of an earlier birth’s ‘vasana’ the father said. The son wanted to be a Buddhist priest from a young age and has now made quite a bit of spiritual progress, according to the father. In the 1950s the weavers used to go to the Kalatuwewa jungles, to cut ‘rattan’ trees, more than 100years old. They would then bring the bundles of rattan to a shop near the Boralugoda entrance. At the rattan shop there, the vines were split, teased and polished using various implements. The strands were soaked in water laced with turmeric and then boiled. The strands were dried and later used in weaving. Nowadays they use plastic strands of various grades. Genuine rattan strands are now imported from Malaysia via Singapore, by Don Carolis. The price of plastic strands are Rs.1200/- a roll. The price of imported rattan is Rs.2500/-. The natural one lasts for 40 years. The best plastic one lasts only for 20 years. I took this photo in late August 2009.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Materials for packing of an older era, Sri Lanka.

Fresh vegetables were wrapped inside the base of the leaf of an arecanut palm, to retain their freshness in days gone by. Old newspapers were also used extensively. This method was bio-degradable and eco-friendly. I had some vegetables wrapped for me by a villager from Kosgama, Sri Lanka.

Friday, August 21, 2009

River-bathing, Alupola, Sri Lanka.

River-bathing is a popular pastime in Sri Lanka. The villagers in the hills take their daily baths, in the ice-cold water of the rivers and streams. It is also a social get to-gether where fun, frolicking and even romance blossoms. You see a group of people taking a river bath in Alupola, Rathnapura.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The 'Kelani Valley' train at Miriswaththe, Sri Lanka.

The "Kelani valley' train was initially a narrow gauge train from Colombo to Avissawella. From Avissawella one track went to Yatiyantota the other went to Openayake. This train served to handle the freight traffic of the rubber and tea plantations situated in these areas. It also catered to the Sri Paada pilgrims and to the horses and visitors to the Talduwa Planters club close to Avissawella. It is now a wide gauge train and goes only up to Avissawella. I took this picture in July 2009.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

'Yaka mala' - A black flower, Home garden, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

This flowering plant was called a 'Yaka mala' in Sinhalese (Devil flower). It was also said to resemble a lion's head. I bought a plant at a flower show in Colombo. It bloomed in our home garden, to produce this flower, all black in colour..

Rambuttan fruits on the tree, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

It is the end of the 'rambuttan' season now. Each fruit sells for about Rs.3/- at the roadside vending stalls. There are quite a lot of rambuttan estates around Avissawella. Trees are rented out for Rs50,000/ to a lakh during the season. The bats and birds have a field day picking the fruits. People tie a transistor radio to the tree at full blast, to scare away the bats at night. The newer generation of bats, seem to appreciate the music especially the 'rap', according to what I hear. We would go to one of these estates and buy the fruits at Rs.2/- each, straight from the tree.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Full moon, Sri Lanka

The view of a full moon through clouds with the trees outlined as silhouettes at Avissawella, Sri Lanka. The tops of coconut, mango, betel, orchid and plantain trees are easily identified in the picture. I took this picture in August 2009 at about 9pm, with the camera mounted on a tripod.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Baker's van doing the rounds, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

Bakers are taking their produce by mini vans, to the door-steps of the villagers in Sri Lanka. The van's arrival at a set time is announced, by playing a melody as is the case with ice-cream vans. I took this picture in a by lane on the outskirts of Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

The 'Ther' festival, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

The 'Ther' is the tamil word for chariot. In ancient times Kings and grandees would be transported by 'Ther'. The animals used to drag these vehicles were horses or bulls. The 'Ther' was a large structure made of wood with massive wooden wheels. The superstructure was lavishly and artistically decorated. The 'Ther' was also used in war by commanders. Images of Gods of the Hindu pantheon are even now transported on festive occassions, on the 'Ther' which is owned by rich temples. I took these pictures of a 'Ther' procession, at Avissawella on 6/8/2009.

Friday, August 14, 2009

'Thookku kaavady', Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

The 'thookku kaavady' is a variation of the 'kaavady', performed in Hindu temple processions in Sri Lanka. The devotee is suspended by fish-hooks attached to the back of his trunk, thighs and legs, from a beam mounted on a lorry. The devotee is made to swing to and from while suspended from the beam. This lorry takes part in a procession covering about three Kilometers. I took this photo at Avissawella on 6/8/2009.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

'Chedil kuththy kaavady'; Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

'Kaavady' (Kaavu - Thady - Tamil) is carried by a devotee to a Hindu God/Goddess, to fulfill a vow taken to that particular diety. This is done after the devotee prepares himself/herself, by being on a vegetarian diet for a specified period and being not tainted by 'Thudakku' - Tamil, 'Killa' -Sinhalese. The 'Kaavady' is carried on the shoulder of the devotee and he/she is expected to dance and sing in ecstasy, while taking part in a procession. The beat of the drums, the music on the flute, the sprinkling of water using the leaves of the margosa tree and the fumes of incense, produce a trance state in the devotee. Quite often the body is pierced in various places. Here you see the skin pierced on the back of the trunk of a 'kaavady' carrier, with fish-hooks. The fish-hooks are attached to a rope and the devotee dances, putting tension on the rope held by an accomplice.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Waiting to join a 'Ther' festival at the 'Paththini' temple, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

A 'Ther' festival in any Hindu temple draws a crowd of well dressed devotees. I took this picture of devotees waiting, for the procession to start from the 'Paththini' temple at Avissawella. You can see in the picture a devotee carrying a 'nirai kudam' ('pun kalasa'-S).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Worshippers at a village 'Pansala' on full moon day (5/8/2009), Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

In the village 'Pansalas' of Sri Lanka, full moon Poya days have a large attendance of devotees. The last Poya was a special occassion. I took this picture at a Pansala in Avissawella.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunset over the Kelany Ganga at Hanwella, Sri Lanka.

The gently flowing Kelany Ganga at sunset, is the theme of this photo which I took at Hanwella. It is a peaceful scene, which produced tranquility for the mind. The Kelany Ganga was one of  the means of transport from Colombo into the interior of Sri Lanka, upto the late 19th century. The route to the Kandyan Kingdom was by boat upto Kosgama and then by land via Karawanella. Timber was tied together as logs and was transported via the Kelany Ganga from its upper reaches, to the timber mills lining the banks of the river at Sedawaththe, in the outskirts of Colombo. The Portuguese built a fort at Hanwella to control this traffic. The Dutch enlarged the fort. The remains of this fort now houses the Rest-House at Hanwella.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Earning a living, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Just outside a flower show at the Vihara Maha Dewi Park in Colombo, I saw this mother and children. They were sealing naphthalene balls, into small plastic bags. There were about 10 naphthalene balls sealed in each plastic pack. The sealing of the plastic pack was done using the flame of a candle. They sold the produced item at Rs.20/- for each pack. The mother was surrounded by her two daughters and an elder son, who was helping her in sealing the packs.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wesak lantern, Kosgama, Sri Lanka

I took this photo of a home made wesak lantern during the last Wesak celebrations. It was made by a youngster of Kosgama.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A passion for music - Abstract painting by Asoka Kumara H, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

This abstract painting by Asoka Kumara H, at Green Path, Colombo, impressed me. I requested him to explain the theme, that he tried to portray, in this piece of abstract art. He said that love for music can equate in passion, the physical love for a lover. A female music lover and her 'Sitar', in their tight embrace in the painting he said, tried to convey this theme.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Artists line-up, Green path, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Green path, bordering the Vihara Maha Dewi Park and opposite the Art Gallery in Colombo, is busy on Sundays. All sorts of painters and handicraft workers gather here to exhibit and sell their handiwork. I took this picture of the exhibits of Asoka Kumara H, on 2/8/2009.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A stall in a flower show/sale at Vihara Maha Dewi Park, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Flower shows and sales are held in a corner of the Vihara Maha Dewi Park in Colombo, on a regular basis. Large crowds gather to collect plants for the home garden. This was one of the many stalls there on 2/8/2009.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Trinkets for sale, Saman Dewale, Rathnapura, Sri Lanka.

A lot of pilgrim buses come from places all over the Island, to Saman Dewale, Rathnapura. The vendors have a rollicking time, selling trinkets to these pilgrims. This is a picture of one such shop.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tea bushes on a hillock, Alupola, Sri Lanka.

The tea bushes are tended carefully throughout their life in the tea estates. The plants have their tops pruned parallel to the ground. Regular weeding of the soil is done. Proper drainage of rain water is done. Fertilizer is applied regularly. Fungicides and insecticides are used liberally. All this is done to the plants, grown from selected parents and is done by vegetative propagation. All this attention is done to produce the two leaves and the bud which goes into the making of green or regular tea. The rural villagers take these leaves, pound them in a mortar (Van-gedy) and dry it in the sun. They use it as a home brew and call it 'Vangedy-The'.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bridge over a mountain stream, Alupola, Sri Lanka.

We used to go for a bath in the stream and have our lunch under the bridge. What idyllic times we had in days gone by. I took this photo in July 2009 on a recent visit.