APRIL (BAK) The Sinhala-Tamil New Year begins as the Sun moves from Aries to Pisces. Observance of traditional Customs, Festivities and Games - end of North-East Monsoon, beginning of South-West Monsoon - at the end of the month. Maha (principal harvest season) Vap Mangalaya - ploughing and sowing (this is done by men only, and women enter the fields only for transplanting, weeding and harvesting. A joyful time of singing - Nelum Kavi, and celebrating community meals (Kayya). The offering of new rice, Alut Sahal Mangalaya as alms to the Gods and ritual dances and ceremonies relating to the agricultural cycle fills day and night. Every full moon day of the month is for religious observances in the temple, such as:
Sil - observation of eight precepts
Bana - listening to the word of Buddha
Dana – almsgiving.
During holidays it is customary to engage in pilgrimages to distant ancient temples. Visiting the sixteen main temples (Solosmasthana Vandanava ) that enshrine sacred relics or hallowed by the Buddha is popular.
Time to time one can observe elaborate ceremonies in the temples known as Mahana Pinkama - Ordination of Monks, Upasampadava - Higher ordination, and Netra Puja -marking the eyes of new Buddha statues.
Throughout the year one can observe various rituals in the temples such as Bodhi Pujas. Pahan puja and Pirith ceremonies. In every village one can observe various healing and exorcism rituals and ceremonies such as Aesvaha Katavaha Methireema, Dehi kaepima, Amba Atten Methirima, Nool Baendima, Seth Kavi, Thovil, Rata Yakuma, Riddi Yagaya (specially for pregnant woman) for ritual purification and protection.
The Na (mesua ferrea) blooms profusely, with its long white flower delicately scented. This is the tree ascribed to the forthcoming Buddha. The Muratu (lagerstremia flos-reginae) tree starts blooming, continuing till July. This tree, native to Lanka, with mauve or pink blooms, is one of the most strikingly showy of flowering trees. The Jasmine, Sepalika, Attaria, Araliya are some of the other highly fragrant flowers that bloom throughout the year – some during the day and others at night.
MAY (WESAK ) Wesak festival (commemoration of the Buddha's Birth, Enlightenment, Death ) with alms giving to Pilgrims - Pandals and Lamps. Flowers in bloom, especially the endemic Wesak Orchid (dendroduim maccarthiae) rose pink in colour - End of Śrī Pada (Adam's Peak) pilgrim season with the full moon. Mangos (mangifera indica) are found everywhere, and the bright pink and rose scented flower of the Cassia Alodosa blooms. The Pada Yatra foot pilgrimage begins its 45 day walk from Trincomalee to Kataragama along the East Coast of Lanka.
JUNE (POSON)Poson festival ( Introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka ) Pandals, almsgiving to pilgrims and religious observances mostly in the sacred monastic complex of Mihintale. The Bambara Bee (apis indica) which is the largest of Bee species in Lanka now offers its honey to the indigenous hunter-gatherers – the Veddas, who go in search for this nectar of the Gods.
JULY (ASALA)Asala Perahera in Kandy and the Saman Devala festival at Ratnapura.
The Kataragama season begins, with the flag-hoisting ceremony at the Mosque. The God-King's Perahera takes place each night and ritual fire-walking on a selected night after the procession. The Refai Rathib is conducted at the Mosque each night with dancing Sufis. The Ratuwa (cassia marginata) blooms, bearing racemes of rose colored flowers. The Ahela (cassia fistula) flower gold in colour is the dominant bloom. Weera, Madang, Pallu fruits are found in abundance in the forest during this period.
AUGUST (NIKINI)Ripening of Yala harvest. Pel Raekeema (protection of fields in the night from wild animals. Sitting in tree huts, singing Pal Kavi - watch hut poems) and Kamath Siritha (threshing floor activities) is a part of daily life. The Cassia Multijuga is in full bloom during this period.
Time for traditional games and flying kites. Beginning of Vas Kala or season which prohibits Buddhist Monks leaving the temple during the rainy season.
SEPTEMBER (BINARA )Kamath Siritha ( threshing flour activities of the Yala harvest )
Starting of chena (slash and burn) cultivation season. Ploughing for Yala (second main harvest season ) begins. The Wood Apple (feronia limossia) season begins.
OCTOBER (VAP)Vap mangallaya ( ploughing ceremony ) - ploughing for Yala . Kateena Pinkama - a temple ceremony marking the end of Vas Kala is held.
NOVEMBER ( ILL )End of South West Monsoon - End of November starts the North East Monsoon – Pel Raekima ( watch huts in fields ) - harvest season of Yams and Tubers - flooding of Rivers - Karthika festival of Kataragama - Deepavali or the festival of light for Tamils
DECMBER (UNDUVAP )On full moon the Śrī Pada (Adams Peak) pilgrimage season begins.
JANUARY ( DURUTHU )Dry period and the paddy ripens. Chenas are cultivated and Pal Raekeema a nightly ritual. Thai Pongal (Hindu festival of the Sun God), Karak Gaehema (trapping fish in dried tanks ) and collecting lotus roots and seeds is undertaken. Butterflies start migrating towards Adams Peak.
FEBRUARY (NAWAM )Hot sunny weather. Kamath Siritha ( threshing flour activities ) in the harvest season, men and women engaged in harvesting accompanied by Goyam Kavi (harvest songs ) and the beat of the Udekkiya and Bummaediya ( hand held drums of the peasants )
MARCH ( MEDIN )Maha Shiva Ratri for the Tamils. Hot sunny weather. The harvest season - Kamath Siritha (threshing floor activities ) continues at night. The Erabadu (erythrina indica) flower blooms scarlet in colour and is the harbinger of the coming festive season. The Koha (cuckoo bird) starts calling for its mate filling the air with its melodious sound.
Mahapelessa Situated on the east bank of the Walawe River, close to the Ridiyagama Tank and the Udawalawe National Park. Can reached via Wellawaya, legendary elephant's graveyard and the therapeutic hot springs that attracted animals. Some hidden beneficial properties peculiar to this thermal water attracted man and beast from antiquity. Buddhist legends says this hot springs appeared miraculously for the benefit of the Buddhist Arahats who lived in the near by Karambagala monastery complex of several caves - this is the seat of a very ancient Guru Kula of traditional herbal doctors. Very few people know the secrets of this place. So it is unknown and neglected.
© 2012 Living Heritage Trust of Sri Lanka |