Sri Lanka

Kurunegala, Gulf of Mannar, Yoda Wewa (the Giant’s Tank), and Pidurutalagala Mountain
Vases planted by Nina Liffers, February-March, 2015

It was Losar, the first day of the Wood Sheep Year, when the Peace Vase Project posted about Peace Vases in Sri Lanka that needed to be placed. I had come to Sri Lanka a week before, had just visited the Bodhi Tree in Anuradhapura and the Buddha’s Tooth Temple in Kandy and was going to stay for another 2 ½ weeks. The next day on my way to pick up the first Peace Vase in a place called Mount Lavinia, people were celebrating with music on the train. The day after three more Peace Vases were coming to Colombo from Anuradhapura and I picked them up at the Good Market (‘Good for the Planet, Good for the Country, and Good for You’). They were already cemented to go into water. From the Good Market ‘we’ (the Peace Vases and me) went straight to Kurunegala, the closest placement to Colombo.

When we left the Good Market in Colombo for Kurunegala I was thinking that the uncemented Peace Vase from Mount Lavinia would go somewhere into the earth but soon it became clear that one of the cemented Vases was going into the lake of Kurunegala. We arrived late in the evening and chose a guesthouse near the lake. In the morning I got up early and left in the dark. Luckily there was an open door and the fence that I had to climb was easy like a ladder. Even this early in the morning there were quite a few joggers circumambulating the lake. I walked until I came to a beautiful spot right across a pagoda which is watched over by the Buddha from the top of Elephant Rock. I did some prayers and waited for the right moment to plant the Vase. It was around sunrise when nobody was watching that I dropped the Peace Vase as far into the lake as I could, not very far as it was very heavy. Nevertheless I think the Vase is safe because no boats or people are allowed in the lake, “the police cancelled this” (rickshaw wallah) because the water is used as drinking water.

From Kurunegala, I had to go back to Colombo for an interview at the Indian High Commission because of my new visa. Well that’s what I thought the reason was but actually this is where I met Arya, a Sri Lankan who would help me with the next two Peace Vases in the ex-war zone of Mannar.

The next day was spent on a bus to Mannar where Arya picked me up and had already arranged someone who would organize a boat to go on the Gulf of Mannar the next morning. The beach is busy with fishermen, dead fishes, different birds, butterflies and sick dogs. Different medicinal plants are growing and the beach is watched over by ‘the man on the white horse who is holding the sword’. After we got permission from the Navy we set off, hiding the Peace Vase in my bag to keep it secret. The vase was safely placed into the ocean, off the shore from Keeri Beach in Mannar.

From Mannar we took a bus to Yoda Wewa, the Giant’s Tank, which lies in the Mannar district as well. We got off at a place where no people were seen. After crossing a small embankment I first saw a little temple and then two boatmen who were just in front of us. One of them took us on a little trip on Yoda Wewa where the Peace Vase was placed. Everything went very smoothly. Just across the embankment the water comes pouring out to irrigate the fields and children were playing there.

The first and last Peace Vase and me spend the first Guru Rinpoche day of the Sheep Year in a beautiful place at the beach and the next day we set off for the Vase’s last destination, Pidurutalagala Mountain in Nuwara Eliya, with stopover at the Buddha’s Tooth Temple in Kandy. We started the journey on a bus full of festive looking beautiful young women and children. In Nuwara Eliya we went to a guesthouse at the foot of Pidurutalagala and in the early morning of the day of the anniversary of Milarepa we walked up through the jungle with the help of the neighbor Elvis. After around 1 ½ hours of walking we reached Leopard’s Rock. The Peace Vase was planted on top of this rock at a beautiful spot that overseas a vast valley and from where you can see Adam’s Peak. It should be very safe as usually no people go there and there is no real path leading to it.   On our way back Elvis, who happened to be an ‘ayurvedic doctor by generation’, showed me different medicinal plants that are growing in the area.