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Binara Poya, Women Power & Therigatha

Today is Binara Pura Pasalosvaka Poya day the 2557th year, since the passing away of Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gauthama Buddha. It was on a full moon day like today that Lord Buddha consented to admit women in to the Buddhist Order on the fourth appeal made by his stepmother Maha Prajapati Gotami.

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The Mystique of Gal Viharaya, Polonnaruwa

“At six a.m. I set off for my fifth visit to the Gal Vihara. … like a pilgrim to Nirvana the jungle still dark but with shafts of dawn now appearing. The head of the standing figure – which I like to believe represents Ananda – was haloed with the first light, while the Master was in deepest shadow. The anguish on the face of the disciple seemed more delineated as he stood protectively over the reclining figure. Little scrappy dogs of all colours kept guard, and I was alone on this great plateau of gneiss,” so wrote Roloff Beny, a passage from his diary quoted in his most prized book in my collection “Island Ceylon.”

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Seenigama Devale and animistic rituals

Seenigama Devale at dusk. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

My father claims that he planted one of the coconut trees at this temple you can see on the old coast road to Galle, in a tiny hamlet called Seenigama. The little temple – a half a mile or so into the sea with a clump of coconut trees is a veritable treasure trove of stories. It wasn’t built on the sea. The temple was originally on the beach on a mound of sand built by villagers to venerate God Devol, who apparently was able to use his powers to change sand into sugar – local name  for sugar is “seeni,” and “gama” is village in Sinhala.

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