Colombo, here we come again…

206 Views - Published on - October 24, 2012 by Raza Ali

Today we will again go to Colombo. You might be wondering why I didn’t tell you about our visit to the Adam’s peak. Well we went there in the night. It was impossible to take any photos. More so we are here in the off season, so not a lot of people going to Adam’s peak.

Adam’s peak attracts a lot of visitors in the pilgrimage season, when Sri Lankan Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians go to perform rituals at the top. For those of you who don’t know, let me tell you a little bit about this peak.

On top of this peak there is a more than five feet long foot print, which according to believers of different religious thought, belong to different personages. According to Hindu belief it is Shiva’s footprint. According to Buddhist belief it is the Buddha’s footprint and finally according to Christian and Muslim belief it is the footprint left by Adam, when he was exiled from heaven and sent to the earthly heaven today called Sri-Lanka.

This place is a very nice example of human harmony despite differences of belief, because all of the abovementioned religious groups, very peacefully perform their religious rituals at the site and have no objection on the believers of other schools of thought considering this footprint to belong to someone else. When we see this sight we can easily understand that people are capable of agreeing to disagree and still not turn fanatic in imposing their own thought, which in itself is a great thing to witness.

Apart from the abovementioned footprint, the other remarkable thing about this peak is the opportunity of witnessing sunrise from top of the peak. For people who have been to real peaks like the famous peaks of Himalayas, Karakorum and other ranges, this hill might not deserve to be called a peak, but believe me when you go up, climbing 5000+ stairs, in a couple of hours of exhausting physical workout, the hill turns into a peak.

The sunrise is remarkable. It seems as if you are looking at the whole island right under your feet, turning from dark to light. It is hard to phrase this beauty, so the best way to get the feeling of it, you must come here. I can promise you this will be an experience of a lifetime.

Getting down right after sunrise, we did have the light but did not have the juice left to take photos or to do anything else. So that’s why this story of the Adam’s peak will go verbal only. Although we did shoot the sunrise and you can see it, when you watch our film about United Colours of Humanity in Sri Lanka.

At ground level, it was a drive back to Negombo and a couple of hours of sleep on the go for all of us, except for the driver, who for our own sake, I hoped, had a nice sleep, while we were up there!

Well we did also have a nice rest after returning to the hotel and the next morning we went again to Colombo to visit the Kelaniya Temple. It is the temple, where they have Buddha’s throne sealed in a stupa. The temple is situated on the river bank. As per legend or you may call it history, Buddha took a bath in this river, when he was here in Sri Lanka. Across the river there is another temple, where they have Buddha’s bathing apparel enshrined in a stupa.

Unlike Ganagramaya Temple in Colombo, this temple is not frequently visited by tourists. This is a functional temple, with a more than nine meter long resting Buddha statue and a lot of enshrined relics. On the walls of the main halls you can see paintings depicting Buddha’s arrival in Sri Lanka (this temple is the site of the arrival). Going through these paintings you can see the whole history of how Buddha arrived here and brought peace to the two warring factions. The story goes like this. There were these two brothers, who were fighting over the throne for many years. People were dying, but they could not decide the fate of the throne. When Buddha arrived they asked him to help resolve the problem and the solution was found. The solution was that both the princes gave up the throne in favour of Buddha and he took up the throne. This is the same throne that is enshrined in a stupa at this temple.

Kelaniya Temple also has a number of statues of the future Buddha, who according to Buddhist belief will come 5000 years after Gautama Buddha. According to Buddhist belief a new Buddha arrives to heal the mankind every 5000 years. So it just another 2500 years (approximately) before the world would come to know the new Buddha. I can’t even wish to be here to see that happen, but two and a half centuries later someone else might write about this. How and where this writing will be posted is also a question. Maybe we’ll have more advanced means of writing or maybe once again there would be some tree-bark leaflets of such writing. I can only wonder what it would be!

After seeing the temple we went across the river, over the newly made bridge to see the stupa with Buddha’s apparel. At this temple they have Buddha’s footprint, which is a place of worship for the Buddhists. At this temple we had a chance to listen to some Buddhist chants. We were told by our guide that those chants were called “mitra drohi” (friendship betrayal). So it turned out that the person chanting was trying to ask forgiveness for betraying a friend or something of that sort.

We then had a chance to interview a Buddhist monk at the temple regarding Buddhist philosophy of human harmony and co-existence. My fingers are itching to quote the monk’s words here, but I’m controlling the itch to leave a chance for you to watch and listen to those words in our film “United Colours of Humanity”.

We were accompanied for the whole day by Mr Sri Lal De Silva, who guided us through the temples and told us a lot about Buddhism and the philosophy behind it. We did record his conversation also for our film. He is an interesting character. He used to work for the Sri Lankan Airlines, some twenty years back. Then he retired, took a golden handshake and dedicated his life to helping others. How does he do that? Well he chants, for the good of other people. Heals the sick and suffering and has very interesting ideas about life and afterlife and human harmony and other such things. One thing, which I liked in his conversation, was: “We make our own heaven and hell, with our own deeds, right here on this earth”.

I guess he was right about the deeds and their impact on human existence. One thing I learned here in Sri Lanka, talking to people of different ethnic origin and different beliefs is that life is worth living peacefully and life should be lived and not passed thinking of something called the afterlife, which none of us has ever seen or witnessed.

So let’s live another day in peace and do all that we can to achieve peace for the future of mankind!