Saturday, August 31, 2013

Scenes, home garden, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

Unrolling leaf of a 'Bird's nest' fern.

Predator on a rose.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Various Dieties having their temples inside the 'Paththini Dewale' at Nawagamuwa, Sri Lanka.

Dewale of 'Katharagama Deviyo' - 'Lord Murugan' of the Saivites.

Temple of 'Saman Deviyo'

'Paththini Dewale', Nawagamuwa, Sri Lanka.

The 'Budu Medura'.

Artifacts in front of the 'Paththini Dewale.
It is recorded in the Tamil Kavya 'Silappadhikaaram' written around the 2nd Century AD, that at the ceremonial opening of a temple for the Goddess 'Kannaki - Paththini' in present day Kerala, 'Kayavaahu mannan' (presumably King Gajabahu) from Sri Lanka was an honored guest. He returned to Sri Lanka bearing a 'Sacred Anklet jewel' and established a temple at Nawagamuwa on the bank of the Kelani Ganga. He brought in nine different castes of families and settled them each caste in a village surrounding the temple, to service the temple. The term 'Nawagamuwa' meaning nine villages dates from that time. The worship of 'Paththini' spread Island wide.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Scenes, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

Clouds with a silver lining., Avissawella, Sri Lanka.
"May there be a silver lining,
Back of every cloud you see...'

Village road, Durumpitita - The hill on which an accused had to swear of the truthfulness of what he said. A name given during the time of the Kings of Sithawaka.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fire-walking, Avissawell;a, Sri Lanka.

The bed of glowing embers.
Infra-red conversion of above image.
Thermal imaging of first photo
Ready to receive the fire-walker with 'Holy ash' ('Thiru-neeru')
Click link below to see video:-

Friday, August 23, 2013

'Fire-walking', Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

Embers from a fire being raked before the 'fire-walking'. The infra-red radiation was intense around the bed of embers.

A rectangular ditch containing milk is poured into the entrance end of the fire-bed.

The Sacred Idol of the reigning Diety - 'Muththumari Amman' is made to look over the embers and is placed at the exit end of the fire-walkers.

An act of fire-walking by a devotee who does this after dipping the feet in the ditch containing milk..

Dipping the feet at the exit end into a mix of saffron and cow-dung.

'Fire-walking' is a religious ceremony practiced in the Indian subcontinent for ages. It falls within the category of self-torture done in religious ecstasy or trance. Self-torture is a part of many religious traditions. Beckett the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury was found to have self-inflicted wounds on his back, after his death at the hands of some Knights of the King's court. The Dervishes and Sufis among the Muslims practise this to this day. Lord Buddha condemned this practice. Going hungry or being seated in one posture could be classified as a mild form of self-torture.

Click link below to see video:-

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fruits in their variety, Kaluaggala, Sri Lanka.

Rambuttan vendor - 12 fruits for Rs.100/-.

'Rambuttans' the red and yellow varieties, 'Mangoosteens' and the aphrodisiac 'Durian' for sale.
On the Colombo - Rathnapura road at Kaluaggala and around, these way side stalls do a rollicking business. Vehicles on the highway stop and buy these fruits. 'Durians' cost Rs.250/- upwards. 'Mangoosteens' are 12 for Rs.100/-. All these fruits were not native to Sri Lanka. They were introduced by the Portuguese and Dutch colonial powers, starting from 500 years ago.

Monday, August 19, 2013

At a plant nursery, Meepe, Sri Lanka.

'Thibbatu' - Fruits used in curries.

'Nivithi' leaves used in soups and curries.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pup at play, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

Abandoned puppies, mostly female, was the bane of Sri Lankan roads. The threat of Rabies made the Health Authorities to collect them and finish them off by various means. One humorous part to this story is that when the exterminators came the pups disappeared, having been given protection by householders. The high class breeds like the 'German Sheperd Dog' (GSD or Alsation), 'Doberman',  'Dachshund', 'Japanese Spitz' etc, you name it they had it but for a price. A pedigreed, Ceylon Kennel registered Labrador went as high as Rs40,000/- for a six month old pup. Into this stepped a few organizations which collected abandoned pups, fed them and looked after them. They gave the necessary anti-rabies vaccine, Parvo and DHL injection. If they were females they were sterilized by a veterinary surgeon free of charge. An advertisement in the papers offering them free, brought hoards of people vying with each other to take away these pets home. I saw an advert and went 30Km away to pick it up for my home. The mother was a 'Rhodesian Ridgeback' and the father unknown. You can see the 'ridge' clearly on its back. He is doing quite well in our home.
In the 1970s we had quite a few 'UN Volunteer Doctors' from various countries working in Sri Lanka, employed by the Health Department. There were some doctors from  the Philipines working at Polonnaruwa. The story goes that a few months after these doctors arrived, they would be seen carrying large black bags when going for a stroll in the countryside. They would pick up any abandoned puppies and put them in the bag. Apparently the tender flesh of the puppies gave a tasty dinner to them..

Friday, August 16, 2013

'Thooku kaavady' at Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

Part of the 'Ther' festivities. A Saiva devotee is fulfilling a vow ('Nerthikkadan' T) to theDiety.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Devotees pulling the 'Ther', Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

The chariot bearing the image of the Diety is pulled by devotees by pulling on thick coir ropes attached to the 'Ther'

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

'Ther' festival, Muththumari Amman Temple, Kudagama road, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

The decorated wooden chariot - the 'Ther' - carrying an image of the Diety.
 The 'Ther' was a chariot made of wood, used by the legendary Deities and Kings of long ago. Its construction techniques goes back thousands of years and is still built by artisans specializing in the field.
'Thavil' - drum and the 'Nathaswaram' - The flute.
It needs years of apprentiship and practice to play the above instruments. Learning the 'Thaalas' and 'Raagas' of South Indian music takes a lifetime of learning.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Going to attend a 'Ther' festival, Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

The 'Thiruvilaa' ( 'Thiru'+'Ulaa' meaning 'the sacred perambulation' in Tamil) of the resident diety of a Hindu temple, takes place once an year. The image of the diety is placed on a wooden wheeled carved wooden chariot and is drawn on the main roads in the village. The 'Muththu Mari Amman' temple at Kudagama road, Avissawella, had this function a few days back. In the above two photos you see the female devotees arriving for the festival, carrying milk in brass pots as offering to the diety.