14/01/2014 – Thai Pongal and Duruthu Perahera

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As today was a public holiday we decided to stay in Colombo. Our day started with a Hindu festival, Thai Pongal, and ended with a Buddhist celebration of the full-moon, poya.

We joined Dr. Jeggan, his family and his mental health team to celebrate the winter harvest. We were treated to pongal, a sweet rice dish, with various accompaniments – a very sweet but great breakfast to start the day. We then checked-in with Dushy before visiting Victoria Park. Unfortunately all the nearby museums and galleries were closed as it was a national holiday. However, Odel’s, a shopping mall was open and we were able to get our lunch. We returned to Savitri’s and packed up for our new digs – we’re currently staying with Tim and Becky, who have kindly given us the spare room until we confirm our own accommodation arrangements.

After a delicious kottu for dinner, we all hopped into tuktuks and made our way to the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara where we witnessed an incredible parade, duruthu perahera, celebrating the full-moon. Hundreds of dancers and musicians led the way accompanied by at least fifty elephants of all sizes, decorated with lights and brightly-coloured fabrics. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and unlike anything we’d ever seen.