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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Roomassala - the mystery mountain

Roomassala - the mystery mountain

Japan Peace Pagoda

Satue of Lord Hanumantha

Historical mountain Roomassala stands majestically in the vicinity of Galle harbour along Galle- Matara road. The pagoda built recently by a Japanese Buddhist glistens in the morning sun.

The mountain violates the continuity of the southern coastal belt. Many devotees, Hindus and other tourists throng this mountain to discover it’s mysteries and fantasies derived from the epic of Ramayana by Valmiki.

When I went there I felt that it is an ideal location to spend my leisure time peacefully. There are so many stories woven around the Roomassala Mountain.

It’s said that the life reviving medicinal herb Sanjeevanie grows here but so far no one has found it. But in Ramayana it is mentioned that sanjeevanie could heal Lord Rama and his army.

M. D. Somadasa Kariyawasam, a researcher on the subject, recalls that Ramayana is about the war between Lord Rama of Bharatha Desha, that is India, and king Ravana of Lanka, over Seetha, the most beautiful woman at that time in the history of the world, the wife of Lord Rama, abducted by Ravana and kept hidden at Seetha Eliya in Nuwara Eliya.

Lord Hanuman led a Vanara Sena (a monkey army ) to rescue Seetha, and the Vanara casualties were so great, and even when Lord Rama and Lakshmana were seriously injured, in the battlefield sanjeevanie was needed to revive them.

This hurb is said to have, the magical powers of reviving the dying and rejuvenating life. Hanumantha who leapt across to the Himalayas to pluck the herb sanjeevanie, in a hurry, pulled the whole section of Samantha Kuta where the herb grew, brought and dropped it near Galle.


But the folklore says it was only a part of Samantha Kuta that fell near Roomassala. But there is no evidence of the other part of the mountain that was supposed to have fallen. So it’s logical to think that the entire mountain is intact.

People in Roomassala say that when a pooja is in progress on top of Roomassala Mountain, there prevails an eerie atmosphere in the whole area. In addition to the medicinal herbs endemic to this mountain, it is said that even the gravity here is different from other parts of the country.

Boats lying on the shore

The Viharadhipathi of the Vivekarama temple on top of Roomassala, Ven Aththiligoda Saddathilaka thero told me that it is impossible to take any medicinal herbs and material away from the mountain.

Those who tried to do so are said to have got lost.In Roomassala, hardly do fathers and children meet each other. In the evenings their fathers go to the sea and return only the next morning and by that time the children have gone to school.

Fishermen believe that a mystic power works for them as they always yearn for the blessings of the Lord Rama and Hanuma. It helps them to get a good catch.

Ravana, mighty emperor of Lanka

Ravana, mighty emperor of Lanka

Ravana ruled Lanka thousands of years ago and was the last in the dynasty that ruled Lanka for thirty seven years from B.C. 2254 to 2517. Mighty Ravana Emperor was the head of all tribes such as Raksha, Yaksha, Deva Etc. who ruled in Lanka from Lakegala, present Laggala to the east of the Knuckles range of mountains towards the Meemure village. Ravana was the foe of Rama as depicted in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana. Ravana is the eldest son of a Brahama sage Vyshrava.

The mother was Kaikeshi, the daughter of Daitya tribe king Sumali. Thus Ravana had been related to both Brahma and Daitya tribes. Ravana had six brothers and two sisters. His brothers were Kubera, Vibeeshana, Kumbakarna, Kara, Dushana and Abiravan.

Lakegala (Laggala)

The sisters were Kumbi and Supernika. Kara was the ruler of North Lanka upto Kosala kingdom which was under Ravana. Ravana was a genius gifted with extraordinary talents and physical strength. For these reasons Ravana was known as Dashamuka (ten faces) Dashagreeva (ten heads) Dashakanda (ten throats) and twenty hands signifying his great war power and the ability of using various weapons.

He knew the Thriveda and all the philosophy and rules of Kshastriyas applicable in ruling a country. He became the Commander of the troops of his maternal grandfather Emperor Sumali head of the Daitya tribe. At that time Lanka was under his brother Kubera’s rule. At a time when Kubera was out of Lanka, Ravana invaded Lanka and also, took Kubera’s queen Vidovathi as his queen.

Their father Vyishrava who knew about the capabilities of his eldest son advised Kubera not to go to war with his eldest brother. Thus Ravana became the mighty Emperor of Lanka. About two hundred millions of years ago geographically Sri Lanka was linked to India.

Lanka and India were situated as one country. At that time India, Australia and Antartica continents were known as Condivana and formed one mass of land area. In the course of millions of years due to natural causes such as seismic earth quakes, ocean currents, winds and drifts this land mass got pushed further and emerged as separate continents and countries.


The South of India was pushed to North due to these natural disasters and due to an earth quake formed a range of mountains which is known as the Himalayas today. A land mass that emerged after these natural evolutions formed Lanka. The bridge that was built to cross to India was washed by these tsunamis and sank in the sea. Even today the parts of the bridge could be seen to the South of Talaimannar buried in the deep sea. According to “Buduguna Alankaraya” Hanuman in the Ramayana epic came to Lanka over this bridge.

“Wandureku pinu muhuda Etharawa ya no he inda giyela Ram he benda mese veda me lova deviyan theda”

A larger mass of land area belonging to Lanka also sank into the sea. This land mass is the area from Palk Strait to Gulf of Mannar that buried the ancient city of Kudiramalai too under water. Modern science prove such phenomena as natural from time to time. This incident goes back to thousands of years when Vijaya Landed here in 544 B.C. and the commencement of our chronicle Mahavansa.

Who is Ravana

Ravana was the ruler of all tribes in Lanka then known as Yaksha, Raksha, Naga, Deva; Ravana’s queen was Mandodari the daughter of Mayasura Apsara. She was brilliant and a kind hearted woman. Besides this queen he had a harem of women. They had seven sons Indrajit, Prahasta, Atkaya, Akashyakumara, Devantaka, Narantaka and Trisara. Ravana becomes a mighty Emperor as he ruled over seven continents from Lanka.

They were the modern South America, Southern Europe, Himalaya including the Hindukush mountain range and continents up to Madagaskar (Dr. Suriya Gunasekara -Rivira 24.04.2007). Even today there are temples devoted to Ravana in India, Burma, Thailand, Afghanistan etc; Votsakan in Thailand, Ellora caves in Maharashta, Yakshagana in Karnataka are some such temples.

Rama Seeta cultural event is held in these countries annually and the ceremonies conclude after burning an effigy of Ravana. In the Cleveland museum in Ohio America there is a drawing of ten headed Ravana been burnt. One can imagine how they dread this mighty Emperor. “Sevul Sandesaya” poem 94 states that there is a picture depicting Rama Ravana war drawn in the Seethawaka Kovil.

“Diya dam Ravulu yuda saha Bharata yudada

Manaram Kanda Kumaru pera kala dig yudada”

The history of Ravana is written in several languages such as French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Portugese, Dutch, Hindi, Sanskrit, Sinhala and Tamil. Ravana flag was the sun and moon flag with a drawing of Ravana in the centre.

The flag was carried to the war front by the people of Hewaheta which belonged to then Mayarata. This flag which was in possession of Vilvala Raja Maha Viharaya is now in the Kandy museum. Ravana lived in Lakegala which is also identified as Laggala, Lankapabbatha, Lankagiri, Samudra Malaya Samudragiri etc. Rasavahini” identifies this rock as Lanka Pabbatha. Prof. Senarath Paranavithana is of the view that Lanka derived its name from the Lankagiri mountain rock. Dr. Sudath Gunasekara of the SLAS one time secretary to a Prime Minister and a native of Meemure says that it is the highest bare rock out crop in the world.

Taprobane the name which Lanka was first named is derived from Ravanadeepa. Thus it appears that Lanka derived its name from Lakegala rock of where Ravana was the ruler. Laggala is situated in the centre of Lanka between 80-46 degrees to the East and 7.3 to the North. It is said that Ravana calculated the time to his domain according to the hour of sun rise and the shadow falling on the Lakegala rock. This was thousands of years before we adopted the Greenwich Mean Time. The splendour of this area is described in a folk poem prevalent in the area.

“Epita kanda kalu pahane keleya

Mepita konata laggala meemureya

Desiya dekkak usa athi Gomareya

Hodai parakasa Laka Meemureya”

Legends of Ravana

Lankavatara Sutra one of the most important sacred texts in Mahayana mentions that the Buddha preached this sutra to a king who ruled in Lankapura Malaya pradesha.

There are several places associated with Ravana in these mountain ranges. Where Ravana bathed is Rasella. The water flows through Ravana Oya to join Mahaweli river. Udurawana and Yatirawana are two villages associated with Ravana. Seethakotuwa in Minipe is the place where Ravana kept Seetha captive.

Ravana went to Seethakotuwa in his plane which was known as Guruluvahana. The place where the plane landed is known as Gurulupotha. Where they bathed is Rathna-Ella originating from Hunnasgiriya range of mountains. This waterfall could be seen from the hear-pin, bends when travelling to Mahiyangana.

It is rumoured that Seetha was kept captive here for nearly a year. It was from here that she was taken to Seetha Eliya in Nuwara Eliya. Rawana’s administrative capital was Ravana Kotte. This is identified as a place in the South East quarter in the Southern sea near Kirinda. Ravana had a fortress - Kuda Ravana Kotuwa between Yala and Kumana.

Though his palace is sunk in the sea some parts of it could be seen when tidal waves subside in the sea. It was in Seetha-Eliya where Hanuman met her. When Rama’s troops came in search of her, Ravana took her to a place in Bandarawela 4500ft above sea level which is today known as Ravana-Ella. This place is visible from Ella Rest House. A pond where Seetha bathed also could be seen here.

Maligatenna in Welimada was another place where Ravana had a palace. Though it is a paddy field today the ancient granite pillars and bricks are yet visible. There is evidence to believe that the war mentioned in Ramayana which resembled the Trojan Greek war, had taken place in the Uva mountain range. The charred stone cravings and rocks provide evidence to the fact that lethal weapons were used in this war. The dents and boulders where Rama’s firearms stuck are seen today.

The crevices in the stone rocks further indicate that there had been some mass destructive activities in the area. Before Seetha was taken away she lived in a place called Ganakamada which was covered by a sand dune. Roomassala Kanda in Galle is a place associated with this legend. When Lakshman was wounded in this war Hanuma was sent to the Himalayas to bring a certain medicinal herbs.

Hanuma forgot the name of the herb and brought a huge land mass which had lot of medicinal herbs. A portion of this fell into the sea near Roomassala and the area was known as Roomassala Kanda henceforth and there are a lot of medicinal herbs here even today.

Might of Ravana

In the early periods, the Sinhalese lived in mountainous areas. According to Ramayana, Ravana travelled in this mountainous area in a plane known as Pushpaka. It could accommodate two hundred passengers. The seats of the king were made of gold and silver. There were two toilets and a kitchen in this plane (Rivira 22.04.2007 Dr. Suriya Gunasekara). According to Lankavatara Sutra, Ravana went in this plane to invite the Buddha. Dandu monara and Gurulu yanaya were the planes used when Ravana flew alone.

These planes were wind powered. Hence these places of landing were known as Wariyapola, Wariyagala etc; Ravana was blessed by Lord Shiva with the power of Mayavi Shakthi which empowered him to go by air, remain invisible create fires, create water falls, shoot thousands of arrows in a war etc: In the Lankavatura Suthra, the Buddha at the invitation of Ravana had visited Lankamalaya alias Lakegala and preached the Lankavatara Sutra. On a request made by him the Buddha placed his foot print on the rock. Huen San, a Chinese traveller of the Seventh century in his records mentions that Lankavatara Sutra was delivered on the Lankapabbatha rock.

Far Hian another traveller in 411 B.C. mentions that the foot prints of the Buddha were found in a place North of Anuradhapura the then capital and another print on a mountain about fifteen leagues away.

Ravana was not only well versed in the Thriveda but also on all other occult sciences and had a knowledge of divine weapons and sorcery. Mr. Arisen Ahubudu in a letter to the Irida Lankadeepa of 28.01.2007 states that Ravana was a renowned physician specialising in paediatrics.

There are seven books written in Sinhala by Ravana. These books have been translated in to Sanskrit. To fulfil a desire of his queen (dola duka) pregnancypica Ravana wrote “Kumara Bhat Chikithsa” a book on children’s diseases. Legend says that there was a herbal garden on top of Lakegala. Ravana possessed a special gift of a sword given by Lord Shiva known as “Chandrahas”.

This sword could be used as a weapon to win all the wars. Ravana was a classical dancer who danced paying homage to Lord Shiva. Ravana was such a clever musician that the Lankavatara Sutta mentions that when he went to invite the Buddha he played a violin with a bow made out of diamonds.

The tunes supplied by his flute to the Lankavatara Sutra were Sabhanya, Rishaba, Gandara, Daiwata, Nishada, Madyma and Kaishika etc: Ravana in late life gave the Empire to his son Abiraman and became the Lord of Gods, Sura, Asura and humans. Valmiki in his Ramayana mentions an incident to show how mighty Emperor Ravana was. King Karthi Veerya Arjun had gone to river Narmada to bathe with his queens. The Queens had seen Ravana bathing in the same river and objected to his presence. Ravana took the river water to both his hands and stopped the water from flowing.

His rule in Lanka

Though Ravana usurpered the kingdom from his brother Kubera, he was a just and righteous ruler. When reciting the “Sthotra” to Lord Siva his thundering voice could frighten the listeners. He was named Dasaguna or Dasagreeva at birth. Sri Lanka flourished with wealth and happiness during his rule to the extent of using vessels of gold to eat and drink and hunger was unknown.

According to Ramayanaya, Ravana had two other queens besides Mandodari. Ravana was against the caste system and there were no barriers of caste in Lanka at the time. How this mighty emperor fell from grace is a lesson to all the rulers. His downfall started with his virility that made his promiscuous sex habits.

He used force on Vidowathie while she was performing a rite to Siva. She cursed Ravana and committed suicide by jumping into a pyre. In another occasion he used force on a Apsara - Ramba by name. She happened to be Ravana’s brother Kubera’s son’s wife. She pleaded with Ravana not to molest her as she was his grand-daughter and a teenager more than twice below his age. Kubera on hearing this incident cursed Ravana and predicted that he will lose his ten heads if he behaves this way again after this incident. This was the reason why abducted Seetha was safe during her stay in Lanka.

Tha place where Ravana was cremated is identified as Padavigampola close to Rambukkana in the Kegalle District. (Kegalu vitti Page 56 Sabaragamuwa P.C.) The government should plan to promote tourism in these places associated with legendry Ravana.

Knuckles range where seventeen species out of the twenty seven species of birds found only in Sri Lanka, Ravana Ella in the Uva and the range of Uva mountains Meemure Laggala are some of the places where eco tourism and Ravana tourism could be promoted. Ravana fans from all over the world could visit these places if such tour programs are arranged.

Number13: Hoodoo, myth or fact?


Hoodoo, myth or fact?

What’s your lucky number? I will hold a bet with you. It can be anything but the 13. For whatever reasons, this fear for number 13 is deeply rooted in us from our younger days as an unlucky and evil number. In Russia this number is known as the devil’s dozen.

Have you ever thought about this weird belief? For instance, from where was it originated and why do people believe in the magic of this number! This phobia is medically known as Triskaidekaphobia (deriving from Greek tris=three, kai=and, deka=ten. The dictionary defines it as an irrational fear of the number 13.

But where did it begin? Is it possible that the folklore associated with the number 13 has become a demonized numeral precisely because it was sacred in pre-Christian times? Think about it. Number 13 was a number central to certain traditions because it reflected a pattern which could be seen to exist in man, nature, and the heavens.

For instance, there are 13 major joints in your body. There are 13 lunar cycles in a solar year, and the moon travels 13 degrees across the sky every day. Six circles placed around a seventh central circle is a model of geometric efficiency and perfection in the second dimension that has been known to mathematicians for ages. But this same configuration in three dimensions consists of 12 spheres arranged around one central sphere, making 13 in all. It’s all confusing, isn’t it?


Let us begin from the very beginning. There is a biblical reference to number 13. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to the Last Supper. Still to this day it is considered among many Christians that it’s very bad luck for thirteen people to sit down for dinner together. It is believed that one of the dinner guests will die within the year.

Brussels Airlines, has been forced to change its logo following complaints from superstitious passengers.

“How Did It Begin?” by R. Brash (Pocket Books, New York, 1966) mentions the Last Supper but also says: “There is a less superstitious and more rational explanation which says that statistical surveys showed insurance companies that of any group of 13 one person would die within less than 12 months.”

Donald Dossey, a renowned Australian folklore historian traces the fear of 13 to a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla, their heaven. In walked the uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.

“Balder died and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day,” says Dossey. Thomas Fernsler, a scientist in the Mathematics and Science in USA, says the number 13 suffers because of its position after 12. According to Fernsler, numerologists consider 12 a “complete” number.

There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, and 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus. In exceeding 12 by 1, Fernsler said 13’s association with bad luck “has to do with just being a little beyond completeness.

The number becomes restless or squirmy.” Fernsler continues, It seems clear that, to the primitive mind of early man, number 13 was a mystery. He stopped at 12. So persistent are these old instincts that even today, we stop at 12x12 in our multiplication tables, though there is absolutely no reason whatever why we should do so.

We also find Charles A. Platt, the Mathematician, writing in 1925 saying that the reason 13 is considered unlucky is that a person can count from 1-12 with their 8 fingers, two thumbs and 2 feet, but not beyond that, so the number 13 is unknown, hence frightening and unlucky.

(Strangely, this idea discounts the use of toes or other body parts in counting.) Again, the symbolism of thirteen comes into mind when we learn of Osiris (the Egyptian god of life and death) who was murdered by his brother Typhon. Isis, Osiris’ wife and sister collected his body with intent to restore Osiris back to life.

However, Typhon stole Osiris’ body and cut it into fourteen pieces and scattered them about the earth. Isis continued her quest to revive her beloved, but when she reclaimed thirteenth body parts, the last one fell into the Nile and was eaten by a school of fish.

Coming down to more recent times, triskaidekaphobes quote the Apollo 13th ill-fated mission to the moon, as proof to bad effect of 13. The spacecraft Apollo 13, named “Aquarius exploded at 1:13 (1313 military time) on April 13, 1970.

The never-ending theories will go on and on. So, let’s skip to the next question.


What are the consequences of this superstition, socially and economically? This fear of 13 is strong in today’s world. According to Dossey, more than 80 percent of high-rises lack a 13th floor. Many airports skip the 13th gate. Many airlines skip a row 13, going straight from 12 to 14. Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13. On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12 and a half.

In France socialites known as the quatorziens (fourteeners) once made themselves available as 14th guests to keep a dinner party from an unlucky fate.

Some people won’t eat out on the 13th. Some don’t like to begin extended journeys on the 13th. In some forms of motor sport, for example Formula One, there is no number 13 car.

In many cultures, getting married on any day of the week that falls under number 13 is highly discouraged. Microsoft plans to skip Office 13 for being “an unlucky number,” going directly from Office 12 to Office 14. After 13 years of being the richest man in the world, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates lost this title, according to Forbes magazine’s 2008 list of the world’s billionaires.

A new Belgian carrier, Brussels Airlines, has been forced to change its logo following complaints from superstitious passengers. The 13 dots making up the stylized ‘b’ brought a flood of complaints about the “unlucky” design. The airline said it was taken aback by the strength of feeling and felt obliged to respond.

Princess Diana died when her car hit the thirteenth pillar of a tunnel in Paris, on August 31, 1997.

It’s an endless list.

Finally, let me ask you a straightforward question. Are you adamant about your fear of number 13? For example, would you consider living alone on floor marked 13 in unit 13? Ask any scientist.

He cannot offer you any solid proof, but will say it is simply a superstition phobia. Yet, for centuries, the scary combination of the number 13 has signified misfortune to many across this world. Although the West is famous for scientific technological wizardry and education, the number 13’s superstition still has a powerful hold on many aspects of everyday life.

It seems to be that even concern authorities and governments recognize the power of this number and willing to bend the rules. Perhaps numbers do have their strength. That may be the reason why even to this day, the superstition lives on.

So, before answering the question, give it a little more serious thought.

----- The Sunday Obserever

Michelle Obama interview:

Michelle Obama interview:
I’m nothing special

More than a year before her husband was declared Democratic candidate, Michelle Obama was already hard at work on his behalf. The setting: the Chit-n-Chat coffee shop in Waukee, Iowa, population 9,213. Percentage of population that is white: 97.7. The subject: values. Hers and his. ‘I married my husband,’ she told the crowd, composed equally of reporters and supporters, ‘because we shared the same Mid-Western values: keep your word, work hard, treat others with respect.’

As a topic, it’s a little disappointing (who would ever come out in favour of shirking work?). I had hoped for a little more of, ‘He’s a man, just a man’ - the speech in which she ribs her lionised husband for being so inept at the banal details of daily life - but those jokes, she told me later, have gone a little flat. Once you have done them, you can’t keep doing them. That, and having been chided by the New York Times for assuming that the American public does, in fact, see Barack Obama as a god (though his mantle has slipped a little now). ‘No harm, no foul,’ Michelle Obama said of the criticism - though she admitted to subsequently toning down the irony. ‘If the joke is clouding the point, let’s just get to the point.’

Of his wife, Barack Obama has said, ‘She is smart, funny and thoroughly charming. If I ever had to run against her for public office, she would beat me without too much difficulty.’ Watching her easy way with the crowd, you can see what he means. She writes her own speeches, speaks without notes, doesn’t seem uptight or anxious about being liked, and makes jokes about herself. Moreover, she looks the part of the elegant working mother she was until just over a year ago, when she cut back on 80 per cent of her $212,000-a-year job with the University of Chicago hospital system in order to concentrate on her husband’s campaign.

After the Chit-n-Chat speech, I sought out the sole black woman in the room, a distinguished-looking elderly lady who had watched Obama’s performance with a small, enigmatic smile. Willie Glanton, it turned out, was the first African-American woman elected to the Iowa state legislature - and a hardcore Hillary Clinton supporter, until Barack and Michelle Obama came along and swept her off her feet. What, I wondered, did she like so much about Michelle Obama?

‘She’s normal,’ Glanton answered, with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. ‘She stands by her man.’

Normal. Certainly not a word that applies to Hillary’s spouse, Bill Clinton. Nor, frankly, is it a word that would have applied to Teresa Heinz, John Kerry’s oddly flinty wife, or Cindy McCain, who once stole painkillers from the charity for which she worked. Or even the icy Laura Bush, who can barely contain her contempt for the media in her rare public appearances. But, again and again, it is a word that resurfaces with regard to the Obamas.

‘This is probably my 20th interview on the subject, so I’ve really been forced to think about what makes Barack and Michelle unique,’ said Michelle’s older brother, Craig Robinson, who works as the head basketball coach at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. ‘And I think it’s that they come closer to being like us than any of the other candidates. They’re not extremely wealthy or lifelong politicians hungry for power. They seem like normal, honest people who are doing this for the right reasons.’

Michelle Obama arrived for our photo shoot at the Chicago Cultural Centre wearing black leggings, a flowy tunic top and flat shoes, and looking a little tired. Apparently the senator had surprised her by arriving home for a rare visit the night before. Given her somewhat fierce reputation, I was a little surprised by her easygoing attitude to the clothes for the shoot. ‘I think you all should decide,’ she said, shrugging. ‘I can be comfortable in anything.’ (On the rare occasion she finds a moment to shop, she says, she is drawn to Giorgio Armani or MaxMara for suits.)

Then the time came to do her hair. After half an hour with a curling iron, the hairdresser presented her with a mirror.

Obama looked at the intentionally messy hairdo with alarm. ‘The hair is not working,’ she said, fingering a lank lock with alarm. ‘I look like I just got out of bed.’

A few feet away, Ingrid Grimes, Obama’s make-up artist, shook her head and muttered. Grimes met the Obamas four years ago, became a friend, and has been doing Michelle’s make-up on special occasions ever since. She knows her style inside out. And this was not it. ‘Her natural style is classic and elegant,’ she later told me. ‘She doesn’t like a lot of fuss.’ More important, and as we were witnessing, Michelle Obama does not have a problem saying no. ‘It’s partly her intellect,’ Grimes said. ‘She is a person who is comfortable in her skin. She’s clear and direct without ever being over-emotional.’

Even her brother, who has said, ‘Michelle doesn’t like to play games, because she can’t stand to lose,’ calls Michelle one of his best friends. ‘She might seem intimidating at first because she’s so smart, but my sister is a very warm and sympathetic person. When the chips are down, she and my wife are the people I talk to.’ And for the record, it’s not that Michelle can’t stand to lose. She doesn’t like to see anyone lose. ‘I’m competitive,’ she said, ‘but I’d rather see everyone win.’

When we sat down together a few minutes later, the subject of normality came up almost immediately. ‘I say this not to be modest, but there are so many young people who could be me. There’s nothing magical about my background. I am not a supergenius. I had good parents and some good teachers and some decent breaks, and I work hard. Every other kid I knew could have been me, but they got a bad break and didn’t recover. It’s like I tell the young people I talk to: the difference between success and failure in our society is a very slim margin. You almost have to have that perfect storm of good parents, self-esteem and good teachers. It’s a lot, which is why Barack and I believe so passionately about investing in education and strengthening institutions.’

Daily Telegraph

Worry lines? It’s because I’m so old

Worry lines? It’s because I’m so old
-------The Island

A survey shows that women need to fight ageing from 28 onwards.

At what age do women think they are over the hill? It’s a question that has troubled some of the world’s brightest minds for years, and now, finally, we have an answer Sit down. Brace yourselves. Take some deep breaths. Women start to slather anti wrinkle creams on their face at the grand old age of 28.

Twenty-eight! One has barely even got a foot on the housing ladder or had a chance to kiss a few frogs by that age. Life, one might think, has only just begun at 28. And if a woman of that age thinks they look ancient, what hope one a decade older? I mean, gosh, don’t they start getting old so young nowadays?

As a woman of 28 years (and 41 days), you might hope that I am grown-up enough not to take such surveys seriously, especially as this particular one was carried out by the people at Olay Regenerist, who obviously have absolutely no interest at all in wanting to make us feel older, younger.

But loath as I am to admit it, I do take it seriously. All the marketing for brands such as Olay and L’Oreal and Nivea has, over the years, insidiously seaped into my skin like the moisturiser I slavishly slather all over myself morning, noon and night, in an impossible attempt to see off a process that is happening all the time.

"Start young",, the magazine beauty editors tell you, and I probably started the moment I stopped being a child. I have gone to bed covered in night cream and eye serum for years. Now I search weekly for crow’s feet. I stand in front of my mirror trying to work out if my breasts have started to sag yet. I look for laughter lines. If do have wrinkles, they will only be from worry.

Never mind that these companies are blatantly selling a lie - witness recent accusations that L’Oreal had whitened Beyonce’s skin in an advert, the same company previously having been rapped on its Photoshopped knuckles for faking Penelope Cruz’s eyelashes in a shoot for a mascara. No matter that I am staring at a model in a magazine advert for some unguent or other who has skin so smooth I am pretty sure it is biologically impossible. I still buy it, and I am not alone.

The average woman spends £483 a year on anti-ageing creams, though there are potions on the market that cost three times as much for one tub alone. Someone, somewhere, is laughing.

Whereas once you bought a simple cleanser, toner and moisturiser, today there is a dizzying array of products available to any woman - and man, actually - walking into the local chemist.

In one, I found hundreds of bottles of products with names such as collagen skin remodeller, age fitness face cream, omega AOX serum, ultralift deep wrinkle Pro x and double plump.

I don’t know what any of it means - nobody does, surely - but blinded by terrifying words and names, we buy it all anyway. And it is not just our faces that must suffer from this anti-ageing onslaught - one high-street brand now sells anti-ageing shampoo and conditioner, despite the fact that your hair is actually dead.

Really, it’s enough to age you. Do any of these creams really make us look younger?

No - they just work by making you feel older. And when you spend your life trying to turn back the clock, you only end up missing what is staring at you in the mirror - and that’s a face which is probably not half as bad as the beauty companies would have you believe.

Daily Telegraph

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a passing problem

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a passing problem

As many as one in five adults in this country, most of them women, suffers from a condition that is not just painful but socially debilitating.

Many sufferers of IBS are often too embarrassed to socialise

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the kind of non-specific, non-fatal condition that busy GPs can easily dismiss but, with symptoms ranging from stomach cramping to diarrhoea or constipation, bloating, excessive wind and incontinence if there is no lavatory nearby, it can be a colossal problem.

"It is excruciatingly embarrassing," says Lyn Brooks, a lawyer in her thirties who has had IBS for seven years. "At a dinner party recently I was trying so desperately hard to hold in my wind that I was soon doubled up on the floor. People thought I was drunk."

Some sufferers, not surprisingly, become afraid to leave home, losing careers, friends or even lovers. The internet is alive with IBS support groups where people can unburden themselves anonymously. One woman recounts crouching in a school playing field at night, terrified she would be caught on CCTV; another recalls how she fainted from stomach cramps, bringing the New York traffic to a halt.

If you have these symptoms, it is important to get a diagnosis from your GP as they may signal other illnesses such as Crohn’s disease. Although there is no magic cure for IBS, and its causes are not fully understood, a GP may be able to prescribe medications such as anti-spasmodics. Most experts agree, however, that self-help is the best approach.

Probiotics, the good bacteria that help the gut to function healthily and are now added to many foods, may help. According to the Gut Trust, an IBS charity, not all probiotic products are equal, so it is important to choose one that contains enough active ingredients to make a difference. There is less scientific evidence that pre-biotics, which feed the good bacteria in the gut and are also added to many foods, make a difference to IBS.

Fizzy drinks, acidic or spicy foods and caffeine can all trigger the condition, so it may help to identify the culprit (keep a food diary) then cut it out. Skipping meals or wolfing your food on the hop - something most busy, stressed or weight-conscious women do regularly - can exacerbate the dishwasher tummy feeling, which is why doctors advise eating regular meals and taking the time to sit down and actually chew your food. Drinking two litres of water a day can also help, by moving the food steadily through the gut.

Another major IBS trigger is stress. "When I left my consulting job to study cranial osteopathy," says Martha Allen, 40, "the symptoms virtually vanished." The mind-body link is hard to prove in clinical trials but it makes intuitive sense: think of nervous butterflies in your stomach or a child who develops a tummy ache when anxious.

One IBS sufferer in an online support group tells how she was about to stay the night with her new boyfriend for the first time when she was stricken with stomach cramps and had to dash home, leaving him flummoxed.

According to the Gut Trust, people with IBS often swear that de-stressing therapies such as massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture or reflexology helped. At the very least, such therapies may provide the understanding and support that most IBS sufferers badly need.


Eat probiotics Yakult drinks or Multibionta supplements contain the right active ingredients.

Skip the All-Bran Limiting insoluble fibre, for instance, in bran cereals or high-fibre breads, may help.

Massage Rub almond or grapeseed oil into your abdomen in slow, circular, clockwise movements. For constipation add one or two drops of marjoram, rosemary or fennel essential oils. For diarrhoea try camomile, lavender or neroli.

Get your oats For wind and bloating, eat porridge and linseeds (up to one tablespoon per day) for breakfast.

Daily Telegraph

Reducing cellulite without pain

Reducing cellulite without pain

Endermologie is a unique, non-invasive way of reducing the appearance of cellulite and circumferential body measurements. There is also an improvement in skin tone and texture.

What is cellulite?

When normal fatty tissue is stored, it is held in place by connective tissue fibers and is supplied by a network of vascular and lymph vessels. When the system works well, the vascular system takes energy from the fat stores when required, and toxins are flushed away via the lymph.

However, when the waste removal system starts to fail, waste products start building up and the connective tissue becomes inflamed and swollen. Growing fat cells (adipocytes) destroy the network of collagen and elastin fibers, which then thicken (fibrose) around these cells forming hard pockets of fat encroaching on vascular and lymphatic vessels. These hard pockets of fat are the cause of cellulite.

How does it work?

The LPG machine features autonomous rotary cylinders, capable of moving separately. These rollers lift, stretch, mobilize, mechanize, stimulate, relax, collect and separate the connective tissue fibers, creating a wave-like action, which affects the lymphatic system and muscles. This suction action reactivates the natural processes of the cells, which tend to slow down over time. The LPG roller stimulates lipolysis (fat breakdown), smoothes away cellulite and resculpts, the body contours. Collagen and elastin production is also activated.

The LPG Cellu M6 machine has been cleared by the FDA to temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite and circumferential body measurements.

What does the procedure involve?

During the treatment you will wear a specialized body stocking. This makes it more comfortable and also protects your modesty! The therapist carries out the treatment, which involves a hand held massaging head that delivers intermittent suction and rolling action to the area being treated. Each treatment will last approximately 40 minutes, at the rate of about 1 - 2 per week.

How many Enderinologie sessions are required?

Endermologie treatments are 40 minutes in duration, twice a week. The average women will need 12 to 15 treatments to achieve optimal results. Once a month follow-up treatments are usually recommended to maintain results.

Can diet and exercise eliminate cellulite?

No, because cellulite is a complex problem it must be addressed at the subcutaneous layer to eliminate excess toxins. Whereas both diet and exercise affect a deeper fat they fail to remedy the underlying cause of cellulite found within the superficial tissue of your skin. Many women who exercise regularly and follow low fat diets still have cellulite.

Why are diet and exercise encouraged?

Inadequate nutrition and poor lifestyle tend to worsen the appearance of cellulite. It stands to reason that a balanced diet and regular exercise can to a certain degree prevent the advanced stages of cellulite. Diet and exercise are recommended because they are, complementary to endermologie.

Is there scientific validation?

Long term, thorough scientific investigations which have been conducted around the world by prestigious academic and medical teams have provided undisputable of efficacy and safety. It is the only non-invasive cellulite treatment which has received FDA approval.

Is it New?

Endermologie is the world’s forefront leader in cellulite technology for over fifteen years. LPG sets standards in the industry, working closely with leading research teams, universities and hospitals. Moreover, Endermologie is a hot topic in popular beauty magazines such as Vogue, Glamour, Allure, Shape and Mirabella. Top models and fitness experts alike regularly utilize this treatment to accompany their rigorous health and beauty routines.

Can men benefit from Endermologie?

Most men do not have cellulite but still benefit from body shaping and toning of the skin. Areas that respond well to Endermologie are the back, abdomen, and "love handles".

Endermologie, the only FDA approved non-invasive treatment for reducing cellulite and circumferential body measurements is available only at The Ramani Fernando Salon at The Hilton Residence, Union Place, Colombo 2. Tel: +94-11-2300631, 2300632.

The Muslim Problem?

The Muslim Problem?

A few months ago after the fall of the East, a prominent Sinhalese expatriate had toured the area and a luncheon meeting was arranged in an Indian restaurant in a five star hotel in Colombo. There were four of us for lunch including a senior government official. The expatriate explained his observations and concluded that everything was fine but for one factor which was of concern. The government official inquired what it was and the expatriate answered that it was the "Muslim issue". There was an uncomfortable momentarily silence at the table, after which the official remarked "you don’t need to worry about the Muslims, worry about the LTTE".

What I heard that day was not isolated. It is a concern that I hear expressed privately in every strata of Sinhalese society, very frequently. I also hear these same concerns in the United Kingdom, again in every strata of English society. The latest was at the start of this summer at "Regatta", an Italian restaurant in Winchmore Hill, North London, when the topic came up for discussion during dinner with some English friends who are prominent businessman in the area. Their 16-year old daughter summed up their concerns by stating that the dress code of Muslim women was "scary".

In Sri Lanka and in the United Kingdom, the Muslim population is growing, primarily because of the lack of the use of birth control. This rise in population itself causes concern and social destabilisation.

In both countries the increase in population is particularly prominent at the less affluent levels, where there is considerable strain placed on scarce resources such as land, employment, access to educational and medical facilities etc. In both countries the social tensions created prevent the smooth assimilation/interaction among differing ethnic groups, resulting in underprivileged ghettos and in creased susceptibility to radical Islam. It is a recipe for social and political conflict and confrontation.

A few decades ago, both Catholics and Muslims were reluctant to use birth control because of social and religious reasons. Before that the Sinhalese had huge families. But over the years, increased access to education has made more and more Buddhists and Catholics practice birth control and reap the benefits of stable population growth and a reduction in political and social tensions.

Among the Muslim community too, the more educated and affluent Muslims tend to practice birth control and they are the ones who have been far more successful in interacting with the other ethnic communities. The newer affluent generations of Muslims tend to be more progressive and understand the sensitivities at play and the need to compromise antiquarian religious and cultural practices for ethnic harmony and political and social stability.

Recently, a Muslim explained to me the politics of the minaret. In the middle ages, the Mullahs used the minarets to call the faithful who were mainly scattered goat herders in the barren lands of the Middle East to prayer.

This was understandable. Goats and their herders did wonder in those far-off barren lands.

Today, in metropolitan Colombo and London, during the age of the digital watch, Mullahs are broadcasting the call to prayer via loudspeaker. Pray, where are these goat herders in London and Colombo who do not have a digital watch? Not to be beaten, the Buddhist monks too have taken to broadcasting their prayer in Colombo via loudspeakers.

Those who use these loudspeakers seem unaware and unconcerned by the irrelevancy of their actions in modern society and the nuisance they cause to others.

Of the three major ethnic communities in Sri Lanka, the Muslims are socially, culturally and religiously the most distant from the other two communities. Therefore social and political stability and cohesion is a matter of priority.

Islamic fundamentalism, the changes in dress code of some Muslim women, increase in conservatism among Muslim men etc are causing concern both among the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka and among the English in Britain, amidst a trend of increasing Muslim population growth in both countries and the formation of low income ghettos breeding a culture and a mind set alien to Sri Lanka or Britain and more in tune with the Middle East.

To ease tensions and address misconceptions there needs to be a positive and a transparent dialogue. While the government is aware of all the issues and fundamentalist elements in the East, they are at present reluctant to address these issues or open a positive dialogue, primarily because of internal and external political alliances.

Internally there are powerful Muslim politicians aligned to the government and they are fearful that opening a dialogue and addressing issues may effect their popular vote. Externally there are close alliances with Islamic nations such as Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc.

The Government is more inclined to allow their powerful Muslim politicians to handle the Muslim community. Isn’t this what we did in the last century, allowing the powerful Tamil politicians to handle the Tamil community. Look where it has got us.

Unfortunately for the government and the Muslims, the Sinhalese majority are not concerned about such alliances and for them the "Muslim issue" is a matter of concern, no different to that found in the United Kingdom among the English.

It’s an issue that needs to be addressed, to reduce tensions and improve social and ethnic relations as was found between the Sinhalese and the Muslims after the Tsunami. The Muslims were the most affected during the Tsunami as they are concentrated in ethnic enclaves hugging the coast.

BBC and CNN reported a Buddhist monk from an interior temple for the first time visiting a coastal mosque near Beruwala and bringing food and other necessities to help the Muslims. It was a refreshing gesture. The Muslims were visibly surprised and it made the International news. This was clearly a positive development in ethnic unity and harmony, which needs to be encouraged.

Compare this to a senior DIG in the MSD unit a few years ago, under the previous regime, extracting money from a prominent Muslim businessman, while exercising near the Kotte Parliament stating "you Muslims have plenty of money". Reality is that an overwhelming proportion of Muslims are poorer than their Sinhalese and Tamil brethren and have a lower level of educational attainment as a community in comparison with the others.

There needs to be a transparent dialogue, to address issues by both communities in a constructive manner so that there would be better understanding and harmony. If we had such a dialogue 50 years ago, we may have been able to pull the carpet from under the Tamil nationalists/facists and avoid the present carnage. History must not be repeated.

Britain is having a dialogue with their Muslim communities in trying to defuse tensions and it is time for Sri Lanka to begin a similar process.

Poor governance in Sri Lanka results in the state not having adequate political processes to address and defuse social and ethnic tensions.

The press is also partisan and weak. A long standing American citizen of Sri Lanka explained that when he wakes up on Sunday morning and reads the newspapers it is as if he is living in several different countries at the same time.

These weaknesses results in the problem becoming exacerbated and then the state responds with last minute fire fighting exercises at great cost to the nation, using the police and the security forces to contain what should have been addressed politically

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dondra, Devinuwara Sri Vishnu Devala Festive Season Has Begun for the year 2008

Dondra (Devinuwara in Matara, Southern Region of Sri Lanka), Festival season has begun on 16th of August 2008. The season usually begins with a PERAHERA on “The Nikini Poya” Day (Full moon poyaday in August ). In the festive season, hundred thousands people gather to worship the God, named “Sri Vishnu”( Upulwan Devindu), has been predicted for one time a “Lord Buddha”, after thousand of coming years. Until then he has to fulfill some more “Pin” (Good minded things to do for the wellbeing of the people and entire life being) . Many people believe (Including Me) , God Vishnu alias “UpulWan Devindu”,has powerful ability to fulfill some people’s wish, and their dream to make come true in short period.






One day in our house,(Last Year) about 15 people in the second floor, and about twenty , in the first floor. To organize a trip to Dondra (Devinuwara), I’ve asked who wants to come in a van , to worship the Lord Buddha, in Dondra, with God Upulwan Devindu. In the first floor all the people agreed without any comments to do that without get so long in the day after that day. In the Second floor, without one person, all others didn’t like to go there on that day. Then I gave them a lesson, saying a God can’t do every thing only we can do that like driving, but some unexpected events we can’t resist. Only God know. While the speech, a smell like we smell in Dondra, came to our room, every one felt that. Then I said “If this is God’s power wnen I going to change the topic, this coming smell must be stopped.” As I said , It has vanished with my topic changed. Nothing smelt.

After that I came downstairs and asked others did you feel some thing like that sort of smell. Everyone said NO. Then I realized, It was only for the 2nd floor, near this floor. This is one of my many experiences regarding the God Vishnu in a short period of time. In my early years I didn’t want to believe, Gods like Vishnu and I trusted myself These stories are false. After My A/L ( In Maths Subjects) in school times I’ve done many experiments regarding Gods and many Un-Seen subjects. ( I can’t write down every thing here). My experiences , you will be able to know in the future if you are with me in my blogs and the site , named “StarLankaOnline.Com”.















Again to the topic, now the festive season has begun and you’ll be able to worship the Lord Buddha, and God there. If you really want to get bless from the site, Don’t visit there getting Meat, Fish or Beer, Arrack or having drunk. The God really help you if you can do that. As long as you keep the things going on, your ill or sick health going to be vanished forever and the development of in your life will be done.

Here are some Photos in 2008 season.( In this time, Main, Basnayaka Nilame , The Highest Position of the programme, is Mahinda Wijesekara’s Son,)





All The Photos has been taken by me, Priyantha De Silva, Using my NOKIA, Camera Phone.

In their religious observances the Sri Lankan Buddhists have adopted from Indian tradition the use of the lunar calendar. The four phases of the moon are the pre-new-moon day, when the moon is totally invisible, the half-moon of the waxing fortnight, the full moon, and the half-moon of the waning fortnight. Owing to the moon's fullness of size as well as its effulgence, the full-moon day is treated as the most auspicious of the four phases. Hence the most important religious observances are held on full-moon days and the lesser ones in conjunction with the other phases. In the Buddhist calendar, the full moon, as the acme of the waxing process, is regarded as the culmination of the month and accordingly the period between two full moons is one lunar month.[10]

The religious observance days are called poya days. The Sinhala term poya is derived from the Pali and Sanskrit form uposatha (from upa + vas: to fast) primarily signifying "fast day." Fasting on this day was a pre-Buddhist practice among the religious sects of ancient India. While the monks use the monthly moonless day (called amavaka in Sinhala) and the full-moon day for their confessional ritual and communal recitation of the code of discipline (Patimokkha), the lay devotees observe the day by visiting temples for worship and also by taking upon themselves the observance of the Eight Precepts.

A practicing Buddhist observes the poya day by visiting a temple for the rituals of worship and, often, by undertaking the Eight Precepts. The Eight Precepts include the Five Precepts (see above, pp.5-6), with the third changed to abstinence from unchastity, and the following three additional rules: (6) to abstain from solid food after mid-day;

(7) to abstain from dancing, singing, music, and improper shows, and from ornamenting the body with garlands, scents, unguents, etc.;

(8) to abstain from the use of high and luxurious beds and seats. If one decides to observe the Eight Precepts, one would wake up early, bathe and clad oneself in clean white garments, and go to the nearest temple. The incumbent monk administers the precepts to the entire group assembled for the purpose. Thereafter they would spend the day according to a set timetable which would include sermons, pujas, periods of meditation, and Dhamma discussions. At meditation centers there will be more periods of meditation and fewer sermons and pujas.

The observance of the Eight Precepts is a ritualistic practice of moral discipline quite popular among the Sinhala Buddhists. While the Five Precepts serve as the moral base for ordinary people, the Eight Precepts point to a higher level of training aimed at advancement along the path of liberation. The popular practice is to observe them on full-moon days, and, among a few devout lay Buddhists, on the other phases of the moon as well.

The poya observance, which is as old as Buddhism itself, has been followed by the Sinhala Buddhists up to the present day, even after the Christian calendar came to be used for secular matters. Owing to its significance in the religious life of the local Buddhists, all the full-moon days have been declared public holidays by the government. Another noteworthy fact about this day is that every full-moon poya has assumed some ritualistic significance in one way or other.

The first and the foremost of the poya holy days is the full-moon day of Vesak (May), commemorating the birth, Enlightenment, and passing away of the Buddha. The significance of Vesak is further heightened for the Sinhala Buddhists, as Sri Lankan tradition holds that it was on the Vesak Poya Day, in the eighth year after his Enlightenment, that the Buddha paid his third visit to Sri Lanka, journeying to Kelaniya on the invitation of the Naga King Maniakkhika (Mhv. i,72ff.). Consequently, Kelaniya has become a very popular place of worship and pilgrimage, the center of worship there being the celebrated dagaba, enshrining the gem-set throne offered to the Buddha by the Nagas (dragons). An annual procession is held there to commemorate the event.

Both in importance and in temporal sequence, the next significant poya is the full-moon of Poson (June), which is specially noteworthy to the Sri Lankan Buddhists as the day on which Emperor Asoka's son, the arahant Mahinda, officially introduced Buddhism to the island in the 3rd century B.C. Accordingly, in addition to the normal ritualistic observances undertaken on a poya day, on Poson day devotees flock to Anuradhapura, the ancient capital city of the country, for it was there that arahant Mahinda converted the then ruler, King Devanampiya Tissa, and his court to Buddhism, thereby setting in motion a series of events that finally made Sri Lanka the home of Theravada Buddhism. Even today, on Poson Poya, Anuradhapura becomes the center of Buddhist activity. Mihintale, the spot where the momentous encounter between the Elder and the King took place, accordingly receives the reverential attention of the devotees. The two rituals of pilgrimage and the observance of the Eight Precepts are combined here. Processions commemorative of the event, referred to as Mihundu Peraheras, are held in various parts of the country.

The next poya is Esala (July), which commemorates several significant events in the history of Buddhism. The most prominent of these is the Buddha's preaching of his First Sermon, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, to the five ascetics at the Deer Park, near Benares, thereby inaugurating his public ministry. The other noteworthy events connected with this day include the conception of the Bodhisatta in the womb of Queen Maya, his Great Renunciation, the performance of the Twin Miracle (yamaka-patihariya), and his preaching the Abhidhamma for the first time in the Tavatimsa heaven. An additional factor that enhances the value of this poya to Sri Lanka is the first local ordination of a Sri Lankan, when Prince Arittha, the nephew of the king, entered the Order at Anuradhapura, under arahant Mahinda, following the introduction of Buddhism. On this day there also took place the laying of the foundation for the celebrated dagaba, the Mahathupa or the Ruwanvelisaya and also its enshrinement of relics by King Dutugemunu. It is owing to the combination of all these events that the Sinhala Buddhists fittingly observe the day ceremonially by holding Esala festivals throughout the island, giving pride of place to the internationally famous Kandy Esala Perahera.

* * *
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. 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. They are essentially connected with the Buddhist deities, either to invite their blessings or to give thanks to them for favors received. During this period every year, such religious festivals are held in almost all the religious centers of Sri Lanka where there are abodes dedicated to various Buddhist deities. However, the festival par excellence of this category is the Kandy Esala Perahera, which is connected with the Temple of the Tooth and the abodes (devalayas) of the four Buddhist deities, Vishnu, Kataragama, Natha, and the Goddess Pattini. The main feature of all these festivals held during this period is the elaborate procession held on the lines of the Kandy Esala Perahera.

Both the kap-planting and water-cutting ceremonies are performed by the lay officiating priests (kapuralas) of the devalaya concerned, who are traditionally the experts regarding the details of their performance. These details are generally regarded as secret and are not divulged to the profane public.

The preliminary rite of kap-planting consists of planting a shaft, usually fashioned from a felled young jak tree, which must have borne no fruit. When cut, this tree exudes a white sap which is regarded as a symbol of prosperity. Even felling the tree is done with several attendant rituals at an auspicious time: the trunk is divided into four, one for each of the devalayas, where it is carried with drums and attendance. On the day of the new moon, at an auspicious hour (nakata), the "kaps" thus prepared are set up in the ground in a special place decorated with leaves, flowers, and fruits. For five nights small processions are conducted within the devalaya precincts around the consecrated kaps. Sometimes benedictory stanzas are chanted by monks.

This rite of kap is a kind of vow that the Esala festival, consisting mainly of the perahera, will be held; it is also an invitation to the deities to be present during the festival, providing the necessary protection for its successful performance. In this sense it is this ritual that inaugurates the festival.

The water-cutting ceremony (diya-kapum-mangalyaya), which is the concluding ritual of the Esala festival, is performed in the early hours of the day following the final perahera. The officiating lay-priest (kapurala) proceeds on a caparisoned elephant to a selected place along a river bank. He would either go to a selected spot in the river by boat or wade through the water to a particular spot and after drawing a magic circle on the water with the sword he carries, he "cuts" the water and fills the vessel he carried there with water from that spot. Before doing so he empties the water that he took in this same manner the previous year. He then returns to the devalaya, and the vessel of water is kept there until the following year. The ritual is repeated annually in an identical manner. This is believed to be a rain-making ceremony of sympathetic magic, which type of ritual is quite common in agrarian societies the world over. The Buddhists seem to have adopted this to suit their purposes.

* * *
The annual Esala Perahera in Kandy, held in honor of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, is the most colorful traditional procession in the country. It is the prototype of the other peraheras held elsewhere in the island in such places as Kataragama,[11] Aluthnuwara, Lankatilaka, Bellanwila, Devinuwara, etc. The Kandy Perahera is itself the latest expression of the annual festival in honor of the Tooth Relic that has been held with state patronage from the time the relic was brought to Sri Lanka from India in the 4th century A.C. Although periodically there have been intermittent breaks due to unsettled political conditions, the festival was never neglected intentionally. This had been so even during colonial times. Respected as the palladium of Sinhala royalty, the Relic had been accommodated in different parts of the country, depending on the change of the capital city. Ultimately it came to stay in Kandy, which was the last royal seat of the Sinhala people.

Esala Poya assumes prominence for yet another ritual of the Sri Lankan Buddhists. This is the annual rains retreat of the monks, Vassa, which commences on the day following the Esala full moon (discussed in Chap. 8). On the next poya day, Nikini (August), those monks who failed to commence the normal Vassa on the day following Esala Poya, are allowed to enter the "late Vassa."

The poya that follows Nikini is Binara (September), which assumes solemnity as marking the inauguration of the Order of Bhikkhunis (nuns) with the ordination of Queen Mahapajapati and her retinue. Next follows the Vap Poya (October), which concludes the final month of the three-month rains retreat. During the following month kathina robes are offered to the monks who have duly completed the Vassa. The high esteem in which this ritual is held by the Sinhala Buddhists may be gauged from the fact that the month is popularly referred to as the "month of robes" (see Chap. 8). The November full moon, called Il, signifies the terminal point for the kathina ritual. It is also the day for commemorating such events as the despatch of the first sixty disciples by the Buddha on missionary work, the prospective Buddha Metteyya being declared a sure Buddha-to-be by Gotama Buddha, and the passing away of the arahant Sariputta, the Buddha's foremost disciple.

The Unduwap Poya that follows in December is of great moment to Sri Lanka as commemorating two memorable events connected with the visit of Theri Sanghamitta, sister of arahant Mahinda, from India in the third century B.C. (Mhv.iv,18-19). The first of these events was the arrival at Anuradhapura of a sapling of the sacred Bodhi-tree at Buddhagaya, brought to Sri Lanka by Sanghamitta. The planting of this tree is the origin of the Bodhi-puja in the country (see Chap. 4).

The other memorable event commemorated by this poya is the establishment of the Order of Nuns (bhikkhuni-sasana) in Sri Lanka by the Theri Sanghamitta when she ordained Queen Anula and her entourage of 500 women at Anuradhapura. Records indicate that the Bhikkhuni Sangha thus established flourished during the Anuradhapura period (third century B.C. to eleventh century A.C.), but disappeared after the decline of that kingdom. Historical records are silent as to the reasons for its extinction, but they do report how the Sinhala Bhikkhuni Sangha helped in the establishment of the Order of Nuns in China.[12] In the 5th century a group of Sinhala nuns headed by the Bhikkhuni Devasara went to China to confer higher ordination there and the Bhikkhuni Sangha thus established survives there to this day. The Sinhala Buddhists commemorate this poya day with peraheras, observance of the Eight Precepts, and meetings. The day is designated Sanghamitta Day. Nowadays the dasasil matas (ten-precept nuns) take an active part in initiating these commemorative functions.

Next follows the Durutu Poya (January) when the Sinhala Buddhists commemorate the first visit of the Buddha to the island. According to the Mahavamsa, nine months after his Enlightenment, the Buddha visited present Mahiyangana in the Badulla District, where stands the dagaba by that name enshrining the Buddha's hair relics and the collar bone (Mhv.i,197). The Buddhists remember the event by holding an annual perahera. This much-venerated dagaba is also of consequence as the first edifice of this type to be constructed here, originating the ritual of dagaba worship in Sri Lanka.

The poya that follows, Navam Poya (February), celebrates the Buddha's appointment of the two arahants, Sariputta and Moggallana, as his two chief disciples. It also marks the Buddha's decision to attain Parinibbana in three months' time. The Medin Poya in March is hallowed by the Buddha's first visit to his parental home after his Enlightenment, during which he ordained the princes Rahula, Nanda, and many others as monks. The month that follows is called Bak (pronounced like "buck"), which corresponds to April. In this month it is not the full-moon day but the new-moon day that invites attention as signalizing the Buddha's second visit to Sri Lanka, when he visited Nagadipa[13] on the day preceding the new-moon day (amavaka: Mhv.i,47) in the fifth year after his Enlightenment.

The above brief account of the twelve poya days demonstrates how the poya day has become intimately connected with the life of the Buddha and consequently with the principal events of early Buddhist history. The Sri Lankan Buddhists, quite accustomed as they are to commemorate such events with rituals and ceremonies in full measure, have maintained these traditions up to the present.

Extract from Buddhist Ceremonies and Rituals of Sri Lanka
A.G.S. Kariyawasam
Buddhist Publication Society

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