Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to the Sri Lankan Community on the island and around the world! April 13 Sri Lankans (Sinhala and Tamil) celebrated the move of the sun into the sign of Pisces, which traditionally marks the the beginning of a new year for them. My friends in the local Sri Lankan community here in North Carolina invited me to partake in the rituals and traditions marking this auspicious time at the local temple.

At the appointed time, first we lit the candles on the decorated stand in the photo below (instead of the traditional oil lamp). Then they lit a small, traditional cooking fire while the monks recited auspicious passages from the Buddhist Suttas (sacred teachings). Then they brought a pot of milk to a boil on that fire (see below in the center right of the photo).

After boiling the milk (from which they traditionally make milk rice), the children and their parents lined up, and the children expressed their respect and gratitude to their mother and then their father. Lastly, the community also expressed their respect for the elders of the community.

Next, everyone gathered around the tables laden with all kinds of Sri Lankan sweets and pieces of milk rice and helped themselves to plate of these treats, together with a cup of freshly brewed tea.

Energized like that, the youngsters were off to play games, while the adults chatted and watched the young people amuse themselves with a variety of games.

Around 1PM, all gathered for a delicious lunch consisting of all sorts of home-cooked Sri Lankan delicacies – and more tea. Then more games were played in the afternoon, until the festivities wound down around 4PM.

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