Remembrance of Things Past

Sri Lanka's flag
Asia » Sri Lanka » Southern Province » Galle
September 15th 2013
Published: September 16th 2013
Edit Blog Post

Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey God Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey God Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey God

This statue was erected on Rumasalla Peninsula in the hopes of ethnic peace in Sri Lanka, while the bloody civil war was still happening.
Remembrance of things past:

Sri Lanka has just emerged from decades of civil war, causing the deaths of 100,000 or more citizens. On top of that, the 2004 tsunami killed over 30,000 in one day.

Wherever you look, there are reminders of the past and efforts underway for reconstruction.

Near the sea end of Rumasalla Peninsula, where we have been staying in the Glass House, there is a large statue of Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey God, erected during the civil war and dedicated to the hope for ethnic harmony in Sri Lanka.

Hanuman is connected to Rumasalla in the Hindu epic the Ramayana. Many different versions exist about what Hanuman did, but one is that when Lakshman is severely wounded in the battle of Lanka, Hanuman is asked to get the medicinal herbs to cure him. He flies back to the Himalayas to get them, but either can't find them (one version) or can't remember what to get (another version) so he brings back the whole mountain. A couple pieces of it fall and one forms the Rumasalla Peninsula, and that is why these special medicinal herbs are found in only those two places outside of the
Peace PagodaPeace PagodaPeace Pagoda

Ships approaching Galle Harbour can see the Peace Pagoda perched high on the western side of the peninsula.

Just along the hillside from Hanuman is the beautiful Peace Pagoda, one of 5 built in Sri Lanka by Japanese Buddhists. It's a massive, smooth, gleaming, serene stupa which houses 4 statues of Buddha representing different stages in his life.

This area is actually a complex of monuments. There's also the memorial to the 2004 tsunami victims, the peace bell, and another building which appeared to have prayerful people in it, but which I didn't go near.

To the east of the peninsula is Unawatuna Beach which was demolished by the tsunami, but which is springing back into tourist business as fast as it can. There are many hotels, bars, restaurants, shops and guest houses already functioning, and more on the way. Crowds of backpackers and more well-heeled tourists range up and down.

Many of the buildings are being constructed right on the edge of the sand again. One wonders about the wisdom of this...

It leaves me pondering, How does one go forward after huge tragedies? Remembering or forgetting? Or cordoning off the memories and working around them?

Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22


Peace pagoda bell towerPeace pagoda bell tower
Peace pagoda bell tower

This bell tower is a recent donation by a local man.
Peace Pagoda First BuddhaPeace Pagoda First Buddha
Peace Pagoda First Buddha

This is the Buddha that faces people entering the pagoda site. It faces the staircase.
Closer view of first BuddhaCloser view of first Buddha
Closer view of first Buddha

By ascending the steps of the pagoda you can see each of the Buddha statues close up and read the part of the Buddha's life that they portray.
Buddha at birthBuddha at birth
Buddha at birth

When the baby pointed to both the world above and the world below, it was taken as a sign.

As at many stupas, elephants encircle the base. Often they're painted black, but these continue the pure whiteness of the entire structure.
Buddha diesBuddha dies
Buddha dies

Buddha lay down under two sal trees and, resting his head on his right hand, he died.
Buddha's followersBuddha's followers
Buddha's followers

A closer look allows us to focus on Buddha's followers, who then carried on the faith.
Another buildingAnother building
Another building

This was also in the "Remove shoes" zone, so I took it to be a prayerful place as well.
Tsunami memorial Tsunami memorial
Tsunami memorial

A Japanese memorial to those killed by the 2004 tsunami. Little did they know what lay ahead for them at Fukushima. Perhaps it's best none of us knows.
Unawatuna BeachUnawatuna Beach
Unawatuna Beach

This beach was hit by two successive tsunami waves which demolished the place.
Unawatuna Beach shore lineUnawatuna Beach shore line
Unawatuna Beach shore line

The buildings and businesses reappear, again right on the sand line.
Seated Buddha Unawatuna Seated Buddha Unawatuna
Seated Buddha Unawatuna

At the west end of Unawatuna Beach, a seated Buddha reminds people of the spiritual life, while appearing to watch the sea horizon.
Dogs on BeachDogs on Beach
Dogs on Beach

Dogs are everywhere in Sri Lanka and they all seem to be about the same size and shape. They're very placid, almost never bark, and don't approach menacingly. They lead their own lives--in temples, on roadsides, even in restaurants. In 6 weeks here, I've only seen one dog on a leash and one large dog, which was outside a posh hotel in Nuwara Eliya.
Typical Sri Lankan dogTypical Sri Lankan dog
Typical Sri Lankan dog

Sri Lankan dogs are very friendly, as are Sri Lankans themselves.

Now this dog at the Glass House is different because it was brought to Sri Lanka as a puppy from China.
Georgie and Candy in from the rainGeorgie and Candy in from the rain
Georgie and Candy in from the rain

These two dogs, brought as puppies from China, enjoy life at the Glass House, reportedly guarding it, though I never heard a single bark from them.
Monkey visitorMonkey visitor
Monkey visitor

Black monkeys and red monkeys live in the trees around the Glass House. It's the red monkeys that come inside and nick things (like mobile phones!) unless you're vigilant about closing the doors.
Martha watches video production Martha watches video production
Martha watches video production

Keeping an eye on the mic handling technique.
Phil with KindlePhil with Kindle
Phil with Kindle

Phil slogging his way through books in his Kindle.

16th September 2013

Peace & love
Good to see the Peace Pagoda. Impossible to imagine what it must be like to loose so many people both in the civil war and tsunami. Great that you and Phil are enjoying the experience so much. M xx
17th September 2013

It appears to me that one should remember the past, to learn from it, and to consider how to incorporate that knowledge into the future. Respecting the past gives one a compass to steer by.
18th September 2013

Hi Becky, Thanks for your comment. I think it's very profound.--Martha

Tot: 2.552s; Tpl: 0.102s; cc: 13; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0385s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 2; ; mem: 1.3mb