Friday, May 8, 2009

Vesak here in Raja Ela, Hingurakgoda –Near Minneriya in Polonnaruwa District

Today is Vesak Poya, and in terms of activity, is no different from another day. We tie up the cattle in a different place, and after an hour down pour yesterday, they seem quite happy with the potential of some tender morsels sprouting up. After all it was the first rain for a month and it preceded a very hot humid spell.

People here having been waiting for this rain, called the rain that turns the winds, and are not sure whether this is it, as the winds have not turned. Over here that rain portends the beginning of a new growing season, and this rain has to pass before the onion seeds are put into the nursery. If this is done before these rains, when they come the nursery will drown as the wet clay filled soil will suffocate the growing plant. Though I slept soundly last night despite having my whole verandah where I sleep soaked after the shower, the ‘hulang kala’ or the windy season has not commenced yet. It may rain tonight!

Unlike in the Western Province, (accounts for 60% of the GNP of Sri Lanka) where there are shops selling a lot of Vesak decorations and lights, especially the temporary ones just for the season, there are no shops like that, and nor have I seen any homes with even on Vesak lantern.

When I passed the row of Army campls in Minneriya yesterday, they had only just begun setting up their individual display locations, I presume the actual decoration is being prepared in a different place to be brought here.

The only plan we appear to have is that some neighbors want to go in the two-wheel tractor to Medirigiriya, thinking there would be more decorations there, for which they borrowed my tractor and borrow a trailer from someone else as I do not have one. Some may, and MAY is the operative word this May 8th, go to the local Temple as they do on each Poya day, and others may go to the nearby stretch of Army camps, to see their more elaborate decorations, as the Army always has a competition for “Best Vesak Lantern”.

No doubt the older ladies take sill (upasaka amma),and as is usual the Gal Vihare is a destination every Poya where the Army provides the midday meal for those pilgrims. See my blog entry of June 2008 for some of the visuals of last year’s Poson, which is the bigger occasion in these parts, and not Vesak as it is in the Western Province.

The shops are closed till Monday, so I have to plan ahead to ensure that we have got the inputs necessary for our work schedule for these few days to prepare the land for sowing.

In the Kauddulla vicinity there is a pinkama in progress, praying for rain, for the farmers who depend on paddy cultivation using the waters of the mighty Kaudulla Tank. There is no surplus water to be given to Kaudulla from Minneriya, nor any excess to be sent further on to the Kantale Tank. The rains in the Up country have not been sufficient to fill the Victoria and lower Reservoirs of the Mahaweli scheme, so little has come our way to Minneriya through an elaborate series of tunnels and canals that fill Giritale and Minneriya Tanks and also affects the Parakrama Samudra inflow through another route.


Kalusudda said...

I would love to learn more about those intricate irrigation schemes. Sounds very interesting.

Rajaratarala said...

I would like to make a correction on what I said earlier. I forgot that we in Sri Lanka wait to the last minute. So on the Vesak day itseld people feverishly get their home lanterns all prepared so the drive last night to see the fabulous display by the army all along the road by the side of the camps, I came across many houses that had home made lanterns lit for all the passes by to admire. I cant think of a more beautiful sight than home made vesak lanterns lit in the night