Christmas is much lower key in Sri Lanka than it is in the US or UK. The population is mostly buddhist, but everyone likes a holiday. We went out of town yesterday to attend a ten year anniversary of my Dad's hotel -- Theravada Buddhist style.
There are two kinds of successful people in Sri Lanka. The first kind lives large and flaunts that they made it. The other kind -- well, they have nothing to prove. Saman Villas, the country's number one luxury hotel, is run by this former sort. How did they mark their tenth anniversary? With a half hour religious ceremony that not even the guests knew about.
A Dane (pronounced THA-nay) is sevice where buddhist monks gather to repeat sermons first delivered by the Buddha. They are an oral tradition going back 2,500 years. The chanting of these sermons is called pirith, and is typically about kindness towards all.
The Dane started with the priests being fed. In case you're wondering, buddhist priests are vegetarians (as all buddhists are supposed to be. As you may guess, we have our C&E sorts too...). This is the only "payment" these priests receive for this service.
After the priests have eaten, everyone who will listen to the pirith sits in front of the priests on the ground. A spool of string (made from a leaf) is passed amongst the gathered, and everyone holds on to the string (you'll see what this is for later).
After the pirith is over, a cup of water is poured. This is done because buddhists believe reciting pirith generates merits, which can be passed on to the dead. This is to aid in their reincarnation into better lives.
Here you see what happens to the string. It is cut into sections and each of the attendees has it tied around their right wrist. This is their badge of piety.
These are supposed to be worn for several days. My Dad likes to wear them till they fall off.
And that's pretty much it!
While we're on a buddhist kick, I'm jump ahead to the end of the day. We joined the managing director on a trip to a nearby temple that the hotel is going to do some community work for (repairs and new construction). The temple was on a small hill that was the highest point in the area, so Dad and I went on a little hike.
Unsurprisingly, the summit was swarming with jungle growth and we couldn't see a thing. This pic is the last interesting thing before the summit.
I ran the image today in a negative filter, and it looked pretty Cthulhoid :) .
The steps were pretty treacherous, but the lack of a handrail just made the climb more awesome.
Monks in training.
I was very happy to get this shot of a monk ascending.
Afterwards, I just hung out with my kid cousins and ate like a pig. These are shots of Saman Villas, one of the most relaxing places I've ever been.
These are my kid cousins. The older one, Shalin, is nine, the younger one, Dulin, is three. This was Dulin's first time swimming. Both would much rather paint (or maybe I should say "paint") than wargame.
The equally amused and outraged looking gentleman with Dulin is my Dad, Sugath Weeraratne. That's Mr Sugath Weeraratne to you...