Friday, September 9, 2011


This week has been full of classes and homework. In addition to Sinhala, we’ve also lectures for Material Culture every day in preparation for the Northern Tour to the archaeological sites of Anuradhapura, Sigiri, and Polannuwura next week. We went to an orphanage on Tuesday and played with the children there for a while, but other than that there hasn’t been a lot of time to see more of Sri Lanka than the ISLE Center and the University of Peradeniya until today. This afternoon, I went with Erica to the Maligawa, the temple that houses the tooth relic of the Buddha. The tooth is kept, hidden from view, in a shrine and is only taken out once every seven years, but the temple itself is also pretty amazing. In addition to being able to see the temple, there are exhibits on how the tooth arrived in Kandy and the damage done to the temple when it was bombed by the LTTE in 1998.
Outside the Temple of the Tooth

Inside the temple

Another room in the temple
The elephant that carried the tooth to the temple

The tooth was carried in this basket

We went out for dinner in Kandy tonight, and as we were leaving the restaurant, we saw a Hindu devotional procession. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but the people are hanging by hooks inserted into their skin. It was a little bit gruesome to see, but supposedly they are in a trance, protected by a god.
The Hindu parade

Kandyan dancers in the Hindu parade

As a culmination to the evening, we went to a Perahera, which is a week-long celebration that takes place everywhere that has, at some point, been the home of the tooth relic. The Kandy perahera happened in August, a week before we arrived, so we had to drive about 30 minutes to Lankatilake. Near the temple, covered in lights, was the parade. There were people carrying torches, riding elephants, playing music, dancing with fire, and doing traditional Kandyan dancing. The whole event was pretty incredible.
This man was dancing with a ring of torches at the Perahera

Posing in front of an elephant

Even the elephants were lit up

Drummers in the Perahera

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