Friends of mine are currently in Sri Lanka, and are lucky enough to be housed in the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo. I’ve leeched onto them, and whilst they are doing their various things, I am sitting at the Kingsbury pool and love my life.
Getting to the Kingsbury, I took a ubiquitous Tuk-Tuk – small three wheeler taxis with 2-stroke engines, that drive through Sri Lanka on a suicide mission – I do admire older Tuk-Tuk drivers, somehow they made it into their advanced age. My driver soon got into an argument with a car driver, the quarrel including wild attempts to push each other off the rode went over several streets, with a showdown at a traffic light. I guess my driver won the argument, as he left the battle field triumphantly, and he proudly informed me that he was a Sri Lankan Commando, had killed many Tamil Tigers in the war (I assume the car driver was Tamil), and started showing me his scars. I did not ask any questions, was just happy to make it to the hotel in one piece, paid and fled.
Sri Lanka is a blessed country – amongst others, blessed with holidays. For example, thanks to the many religions in the country, all new year days are celebrated – Buddhist, Chinese, Christian, Muslim, Indian – and if that were not enough, every full moon in the year is a public holiday for all (would suggest to import that into Germany).
In February, the full moon day (poya day) is celebrated with a special procession in Colombo, the Navam Maha Perahera, the little brother of the largest religious celebration in Asia, the Esala Perahera in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
A Perahera is a Buddhist procession, during which a temple relic is carried through the streets by an elephant. As the relic may not touch the street, the elephant walks on a white strip of cloth that is being unrolled before it and rolled up again behind it. The Navam Maha Perahera exists since 1979, and the procession goes around the Gangarama Temple, with ca. 50 elephants and 1000 musicians and dancers. It is a big event for the locals, and as we somehow – to the disbelieve of the local police – had local and not tourist tickets, we were sitting right in the middle of the action.
Something I noticed – nearly all the dancers and musicians were men – even those in female dress. There was only one girl group – 6 women, yeah! (at this point, I could of course go on again about equal rights etc. etc., but I won’t).
I fell in love with the elephants, they were so gentle and loved the party, and they danced:
The music takes some getting used to: