Leap into the unspoiled waters of a river for an exhilarating experience of bathing in a natural swimming pool, a very normal practice among many village folk in sri lanka. Women and damsels clad in cloth, washing and bathing at leisure on the banks of a river is a common sight. Boys will engage in gregarious displays of vigour as they dive deep in and swim afar and pound on each other.
A bathe in the river is an enlivening encounter with swimming and dipping in the cool water. Of course it is prudent to be a tad cautious when trying to explore the deeper depths of the river. Surrounded by nature and abundant greenery one can relax in the sunlight while floating in the fluid stream of water of the river.
Described as Galle lace and Portuguese lace, the famous beeralu lace of the south is a legacy of Portuguese colonization. Beeralu lace making has long been considered a traditional craft of Sri Lanka. Today, a small concentration of women still continues this craft mainly in the Magalle area of Galle. Artisans in the Galle fort, weave snow-white reams of intricate lace using the dying technique of beeralu. Feast your eyes on and try the intricate art which involves a stencil being made on a piece of cardboard using graph paper.
The pattern of the lace is traced onto the paper which is then fixed onto the rotatable structure of the beeralu pillow, the wooden structure used to make lace. Thirty wooden bobbins or beeralu are woven, the pattern created using pins where necessary in the design to separate the different kinds of knots. The craft is so intricate that it takes an experienced lace maker about a week to create a metre of one inch wide lace.
The Ravana Ella or the Ravana falls is an expansive waterfall in Sri Lanka, a popular attraction owing to its association with the Hindu epic Ramayana. The falls is said to have been named after the famous king, king Ravana. And, for those in search of the much- glorified yet elusive Rama-Ravana-Sita trail, the site of the waterfall and the caves cosseted behind the falls is the closest that they can get to the tale of two countries.
The story goes that king Ravana kidnapped princess Sita from India and hid her in the caves behind the waterfall. It is also said that Sita bathed in a pool of water that was collected with the water that fell from the fall.
The Aluth Sahal Mangallya or the festival of new rice is performed on Duruthu full moon poya day in January when the first portion of the new harvest of the Maha season is offered to the Sri Maha Bodhi or the sacred Bo tree at Anuradhapura amidst much display of rituals and religiosity. It is a thanksgiving by farmers to the deities in fulfilment of their vows made prior to cultivation and a celebration of the farmer’s labour.
The ritualistic function of the Aluth Sahal Mangallya has been an important function from the days of hydraulic civilisation in Sri Lanka. The objectives of the functions are to invoke blessings on the deities who protected the paddy cultivation and praying for rain in the next season. Offering of milk rice made of the maiden harvest is made at the function. It is also known as Agra Sashya Sahala Mangallya (maiden rice from the harvest). The word sashya in Sinhala denotes abundance and thus the Aluth Sahal Mangallya is a celebration of a bountiful harvest gathered after a year of hard work and toiling.
Hoi hoi…hoi hoi, join in a chanting of harmonious sing-song on the beach while helping to pull ashore the maadala: an expansive net that is laid for fish twice a day; early morning and late afternoon.
Giving a hand in this laborious task is most welcome as men, women and children, their ankles buried in the soft sand, tug hard at the net full of a variety of fish. It is an experience while holidaying along the beach as waves constantly lap against the shore and one has to tug hard with the rest to make sure that the day’s catch does not escape into the sea again.