17 April 2014

The sun smiles to itself

I am a ‘can’t do without and wish it was not so’ kind of entity to most, especially to those living in a tiny island called Sri Lanka.  These days.  I am right ‘above’.  I have, for a few days at least, become a shadow-robber.  Now this is not exactly an island of people that worship me.  I am referred to in folk song and I there are expressions of gratitude as well as seeking of blessings at various points of the cultivation cycle, but that’s about it.  There are times I am needed badly.  There are times when some people think it would be nicer if I was blotted out by clouds. Rain clouds, that is. 

I look down and that’s not because I am ‘up’.   I am not ‘above’ in that there’s nothing and no one ‘below’.  Those terms of reference and locational ‘relationality’ have to do with perspective.  I could say that Planet Earth, tiny though it is, is sitting right above me and that the burning arrows of my light are shooting up and not down as is often claimed. 

But let’s leave the relativity aside.  Let’s talk of what I see. 

I see a people buzzing around like they’ve not buzzed around at any time in the past 12 months.  Sure, I see heightened human activity at different times in different places.  At Christmas.  The rare occasion when Sri Lankan sports teams secure a world championship.  Still, nothing like this. No, not in Sri Lanka.  They call it the Surya Mangalyaya or the Festival of the Sun, so I suppose that I am implicated in some way. 

I’ve seen it all before. Year after year, decades upon decades, centuries that bled into millennia.  In bad times and good.  During peaceful years and through miserable times of senseless blood-letting.  There were naturally poverty-stricken years. There were times of plenty.  Droughts and floods as well as splendid years when people and land were spared the convulsions of nature. 

I’ve seen it all.  And I’ve seen through it all.  There’s nothing like this at any other time of the year.  In all corners of this tiny island, there’s joy and renewal, freshness and hope, reconciliation and celebration.  They may call this day, this time, many names other than ‘Surya Mangalyaya’. 

They may give an identity tag such as ‘Sinhala’ or ‘Tamil’ or ‘Hindu’, but it is a moment and a celebration that so marks the vast majority of communities and is ingrained in their cultural DNA that it would be foolish to say that there’s anything that is more ‘Sri Lankan’.  Of course each community will color it with customs that have strong strains of the particularities of religious preference, but then again can anyone deny that these religions and not others have impacted the civilizational signature of this island and its people in degrees of unmistakable significance?  All that, however, can be dismissed as being ‘academic’.

What is telling is that there is no other moment when so many millions strike match to light hearth at the exactly the same moment and when so many millions partake of kiribath or milk-rice at exactly the same moment. 

That’s something.  Something unique.  Uniquely Sri Lankan.  It makes me smile.   



sajic said...

The sun says 'thanks for the appreciation, but I wish I were not so hot!'