The Buddha’s Hair

2013-06-11 09.50.22I had an hour to spare and so decided to go for a walk down the Galle Face to see the sea. As I was walking along, a man came up and struck up a conversation. He was polite and pleasant and told me he worked at the bank across the road from the hotel. And then he told me it was my lucky day – this was the one day a year that you could see the Buddha’s hair. Yes, yes, I should have known immediately. But I was slightly confused (the Buddha’s hair? what? I was picturing a statue with a blue fright wig), and he mentioned it was just down the road and I thought, oh well, why not. Suddenly a trishaw appears. By this time I have sized up my companion and figure that I could take him in hand to hand combat, and, let’s face it, trishaws don’t have walls or do and don’t go that fast, so I figure my safety is not particularly at risk. So we get in and drive to the temple, with my companion telling me all about how the temple helps out tsunami orphans and the like.  The temple isn’t far and it is quite impressive. There is even an elephant.

So we look around the temple and he shows me where the Buddha’s bones and hair are, apparently, on display. There was a strong expectation that I would be highly impressed by all the gem stones and gold also.

2013-06-11 09.58.40 2013-06-11 09.58.53So after all this is over, he tells me that we need to go to the temple store. I am starting to run short of time at this point and say that I am happy to make a donation – but no, apparently “the orphans” need to know my name so that can appropriately pray in thanks to me. Or something. as we leave the temple complex, my “guide” is collared by a police man and an emphatic conversation ensues. As we then get into the trishaw, he tells me that if he doesn’t take me to the temple store, he is going to be in trouble with the police. This seems potentially credible. Anyway, we head off, travel a few blcoks, but still not far from my hotel, and we come to….a gem store. I say to my companion – you really expect me to believe this is the temple store? He sort of failed to hear my question.

Anyway, I bought my one piece of coral and went back to the hotel. Of course, this guy, I later discover from our AusAID friends, is a regular at this along the street. And there are relics which are considered to be Buddha’s bones, but they are held at a temple elsewhere on the island. But hey, it was an adventure, and an entertaining enough way to spend an hour.

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