After a few weeks touring Sri Lanka, in an intense and interesting trip around the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, we reach the historic town of Galle, located in the southwest of the country, about 100 km. of the capital, Colombo – where we would meet Guru Karunapala, greatmaster of Angampora -.
A bit tired after the journey, our idea was to visit some of the most important places in the area and to have some rest, if possible, enjoying the local food and calm in the cozy hotel The Dutch House.
A varied colonial heritage
It is written that Galle Bay was in use since ancient times, with data of its importance from around 545. Its port was the most active in Sri Lanka, in the fourteenth century, housing one of the oldest “Scales of Levante “.
The course of history brought several changes in the domain of the zone, by European powers, something significant in the obvious and interesting colonial heritage. Since the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505, the city was transformed into a walled fortress, being in 1640 when the Dutch troops took over the place and transformed it into a powerful fortress.
Desired by the Spanish, French, Danish and British, this fortress in the Indian passed into the hands of the latter, from 1796, remaining under their tutelage, under the Treaty of Amiens, until 1948.
Chance encounter with the “Binara Poya”
Incidentally, for our delight and enjoyment, we learned that during our second and last day of stay in Galle it would be taking place, as every year, the Buddhist celebration of Binara Poya, coinciding with the presence of a mystical full moon.
Being a one of the most important national holidays, we found that Galle Fort, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, was full of life and joy. People of all kinds, religion and condition, endowed of charm the historic place, where we spent the afternoon and enjoyed the sunset from this privileged location, until the arrival of the expected full moon.
A historic moment for women in Buddhism
Although it is celebrated throughout the country and, as we said, welcomes all kinds of citizens, this date is especially important for the female sector of the Buddhist community, as it marks the first time that women were accepted as nuns.
It is said that the Queen Mahapajapati came to Buddha, when he lived in the city of Kapilavastu, to request acceptance of the women in the monastic life. Rejected three times, she decided to shave her head and gather 500 women for the proposal, gaining this way the permission to be ordained and become bhikkhunis.
On our part, I can say we enjoyed one of the best days in Sri Lanka, observing this celebration of life in the form of groups of students, families and friends that made of this area the best place to be at that moment.
During the offerings and ceremonies that took place later, under the gaze of the full moon, we had the pleasure of meeting a friendly family, whose female part is portrayed on the image above. Grateful for their generous hospitality and their repeated invitations to try local food and drinks, we chatted and exchanged stories and experiences of our respective realities.
A magical full moon day that we will remember, undoubtedly, until the end of our days.
Text and Images © Nano Calvo
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