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Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka became known to the British as Ceylon when it became a crown colony in 1802. In 1972, when she became independent, Sri Lanka retrieved her name. The Singhalese have always known their homeland as Lanka and Sri, meaning resplendent, was added at that time. Two delightful highlights of our stay were visiting the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya Temple near Colombo and the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, about 50 miles inland, at Kegalle, as well as sad recognition of the impoverished conditions of so much of her population. Seventy percent of Sri Lankans are Buddhists and as our visit occurred on a Buddhist religious holiday, we joined what seemed like thousands at this important Temple. Buddha reportedly visited this spot some 2500 years ago. Throngs of barefoot worshippers clad in white silk garments, carried fresh lotus blossoms into the Temple to be laid at Buddha’s feet (photos). Hundreds sat nearby on the ground, heads bowed and hands clasped in prayer and reciting softly. They smiled and wished us ai bwa (may you have a long life) and some graciously shared flowers for us to take into the Temple. India is an exotic land of enchantment! Imagine having a sumptuous Indian buffet with its spicy aromas at a lovely terraced restaurant overlooking a river in which 40-50 elephants are enjoying a cool bath on a hot summer day. What fun to watch hairy baby elephants, adolescents and mature big jumbos playing in the water under the watchful eye of their mahouts (photos). We also spied a few privately owned working elephants lumbering along the road with turbaned mahouts on their backs. Other interesting animal sightings in Sri Lanka were water buffalo in the rice paddies and colonies of gigantic bats hanging upside down in tall trees along the road. (The Singhalese call them “flying foxes” and from their size we could understand why.) It was not uncommon to see cattle wandering about quite freely in the country. According to our native guide, Buddhists, unlike Hindus, do not consider cows sacred, but appreciate them as pets, as we would cats and dogs. Therefore, beef never appears on the Buddhist menu, just as the likes of Rover or Fluffy would never appear on ours.

Buddhist Temple Worship With Incense Sri Lanka Buddha
Bathing Pachyderms Formula-Fed Orphan Pinnewala Conservation Program