The miracle begins to unfold around 10.30pm. The night air fills with a soft
indefinable scent, and the five leaved calyx, white with a hint of purplish
green in its veins, opens out gradually so gradually that you donŐt see it
happening and then a thin, three-inch petal of scintillating white peeps out,
unfolding its beauty in the still night air. Another and another follow suit and
by midnight all the petals have opened out and the stamens hold out their sacs
of pollen. For a few moments this rare blossom sways softly in the night wind,
like a delicate white manel (lily) flower. The fragrance is now intense, but all
too soon the petals begin to wilt and by dawn the entire flower has withered.
This epiphytic plant grows in the forks of large trees, where the decayed
particles of bark and moisture collect to give it a rich protective foothold.
The plant has leathery leaves, a little thicker than that of the vanda orchid,
but not as thick as that of the cactus. The leaves are long with scalloped
edges. The scallops point downwards. During the Sri Pada season, November to
March, a little shoot appears at the point where two scallops meet; the shoot
grows to a length of about five inches before it bears a bud, which hangs down
on its slender stem. This is the Kadupul - the legendary flower of the
Celestial Nagas. It is believed that when these flowers bloom, the Nagas come
down from their celestial abodes, to offer them to the Buddha on the Holy
Mountain Sri Pada. The strange fragrance, the midnight miracle, and the fact
that flowers bloom in the season when people flock to Sri Pada...
Deva Worship: Besides the ceremonies and rituals like pirit,sanghika-dana,kathina,
etc., that can be traced in their origin to the time of the Buddha himself,
there is another popular practice resorted to by the average Sri Lankan Buddhist
which cannot be traced to early Buddhism so easily. This is deva-worship,
the worship of deities, in what are popularly called devalayas or abodes
dedicated to these deities. This practice cannot be described as totally un-Buddhistic,
yet at the same time it does not fall into the category of folk religious
practices like bali and tovil adopted by popular Buddhism.
The word deva, meaning "god" or
"deity" in this context, signifies various classes of superhuman beings who in
some respects are superior to ordinary human beings through their birth in a
higher plane. As such, they are capable of helping human beings in times of
difficulty. There is also another class of such superior beings who were
originally extraordinary human beings. After their death, they have been raised
to the level of gods and are worshipped and supplicated as capable of helping in
times of need. These are the gods by convention (sammuti-deva) or
glorified human heroes like the Minneriya Deviyo, who was glorified in this
manner in recognition of his construction of the great Minneriya Tank at
Polonnaruwa, or God Vibhishana, one of the four guardian deities of Sri Lanka.
Both these categories of deities are, however, subject to the samsaric laws
pertaining to birth and death. Thus it is seen that deva-worship is based
on the theory that a superior being can help an inferior being when the latter
needs such help. In addition to their role as helpers in
need, an additional duty ascribed to the devas is the safeguarding of the
Buddha-sasana, i.e., the Buddhist religion...
Fortunate are those devotees who prayed to their Lord for long and got their
desired boons. Still greater are the devotees who dedicated their whole life
selflessly only to have a glimpse of their Lord. Kumbhakarna, the brother of
Ravana was such a great devotee.
Kumbhakarna was a seemingly ordinary creature of the universe but his appearance
posed a grave problem for the creator himself. Pleased by his penance when
Brahma arrived to grant him a boon, he got worried even before granting one and
began to think: " If this man takes a regular meal, he will devour everything on
earth." So Brahma invoked Saraswati to create illusions in Kumbhakarna's mind.
Thus in illusion, Kumbhakarna begged Brahma to grant him a boon of a 6 month
long sleep and wake up only for a day in these six months of slumber.
Thereafter, Kumbhakarna had nothing to do with sin and charity, religion or
atheism, he simply spent his time sleeping in a cave. Having slept for 6 months
in a row, he used to wake up only once for a day that was spent in only eating
and inquiring about the well being of his near and dear ones. Kumbhakarna had no
hand in the misdeeds of Ravana. He was a man of clean, pure heart and had a
gigantic body. Because of the purity of Kumbhakarna's heart, Devarishi Narad had
himself preached him about the divine knowledge.
During the battle in Lanka, when all the valiant fighters of the demon army like
Avani, Akampan etc. were slain, every demon of Lanka began to feel insecure.
Ravana then ordered the demons to wake up Kumbhakarna up. Those demons could
wake him up with great difficulty. When Kumbhakarna came to know about the
events, he felt sorry and said to Ravana: " O brother, you have abducted none
other than Mother Jagadamba herself. This act of yours could be disastrous for
the entire demon clan. Now, why have you disturbed my sleep? It would still be
better for you to give up your ego and take refuge at the feet of Shri Rama. He
is the ocean of kindness. He will definitely help you in your well being." ...
A rare albino elephant has been spotted roaming Sri Lanka's Ruhunu National Park, the first recorded sighting in the country. The pale-skinned pachyderm, thought to be around 11 years old, lives with a 17-strong herd of adult females and youngsters. Tracking the herd's movements could help researchers devise new strategies for the protection and management of Sri Lanka's elephants. "This is a rare and excellent opportunity for research," says Dayananda Kariyawasam, director-general of the Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka, which is now monitoring the animal'sprogress.The elephant, named Sue after the Sinhalese word for 'white', has been seen several times in the past few weeks.
"She's just hanging around," says veterinary surgeon Vijitha Berera from the Centre for Conservation and Research in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where the sightings were made. "We hope that she might be pregnant," he adds.There were rumours of sightings of an albino elephant in the same area about seven years ago, although its existence was never confirmed. Berera believes this to be the same animal.Albinism is extremely rare in the wild. The condition arises when the body fails to produce melanin, the pigment that gives hair, skin and eyes their colour. A variety of geneticmutations lead to the condition, which crops up occasionally in birds, reptiles and mammals. Researchers are hoping to test dung from the albino elephant to determine which mutation she has. In most cases, the genes for albinism are recessive, meaning that an animal must inherit two copies of the gene (one from each parent) to become albino. So unless the Sri Lankan white elephant finds a male with a similar gene, she is unlikely to give birth to an albino offspring.