Lighting a Bucket Lantern with ‘Uncle’ next door !


Today was such a special day when I was a child.

Weeks ahead, the front room of my neighbours,’ the Wijesuriyas’ home, would be gradually filled with Vesak stuff. No last-minute rush or mess was allowed, for Uncle (as we used to call him) did things at a ritualistic pace repeating the activity in precisely the same way down to the last detail, each year in May. I knew the important months when I was a child in which I did something with someone and this was something special joined in by other people in the community as well and so it made that month important like Christmas in December, Palm Sunday, Easter and Avurudu in April, Vesak in May, the temple Perahera in August down the lane and the Church Harvest Festival in October.

Vesak Lantern VI

So in the front room the bucket lanterns and the candles would appear separately in their brown paper packs. As no one slept in this room there was plenty of space on the floor for preparing and lighting the bucket lanterns. [Read more…]

A mother’s tribute to her community !


Natalie Soysa: A Mother’s tribute to her CMB Community from iSrilankan on Vimeo




I’ve often complained about everybody knowing everybody’s business in too-small Colombo.
Today, I’m ready to eat my words.
I am bringing up my son in what you would call a single-parent household.
But there’s never really been just a single parent in my home.
I thought the benefit of being a photographer meant that my son’s every moment would be frozen in time.
Juggling a camera and baby was not as as easy as it looked, but I still have so many pictures of him!
And its only because he’s always in someone’s arms!
So many different arms have come to spend time with him, play with him, dance with him, change him, bathe him and feed him.
My son doesn’t have a single parent, he has a village.
Its been a wonderful reminder that humans are essentially pack animals and not isolated family units.
My son is being community raised and he’s going to be all the better for it.
This is a tribute to all the arms that have held my son close, reminding him that he is loved.
This is a tribute to my community.


Words & Photographs – Natalie Soysa




Natalie Soysa in her own words : I am a freelance photographer and journalist based in Sri Lanka who quit a 13 year career in advertising in 2010 to pick up a camera and head off on what most would call a fool’s journey.

After a few photography & photojournalism projects that feature the post-war explosion of arts & culture in the country, this June, I will be taking over as new Manager-Arts at the British Council.

Most importantly – I’m an incurable Star Wars geek.

Visit Natalie’s about me page for more info.




Photo by Indu Bandara




Image of the Week



Image of the Week

hiranya mar 1 2013 muslim fisherman in mannar


See more of Hiranya Malwatte’s captures of what is quintessentially Sri Lankan from her travels to all corners of her island home.

Listen: ‘A People Left Stranded’ by Tulie Muttulingam

The January Long-Read Podcast: iSrilankan picks up a Long-Read on an issue which may just go unnoticed by many cos it’s not about the CJ or the current political caper.

A well-researched and well-written piece with a social justice intent, A People Left Stranded by Tulie Muttulingam brings alive Muslims who are trying to return to Jaffna and build up homes from shacks on traditional homelands. A predicament that leaves people of our nation still shrouded by the clouds of war, and brings on new clouds of mistrust and suspicion both inter and intra-community.

Please leave your comments on this website or on Tulie’s blog 

It’s Wednesday in the peaceful island we know and love so well where blood ivory may end up in Buddhist temples ????

Am not sure how many of you have read Asterix but if you have you will remember the opening line in each of Goscinny& Uderzo s beloved books was “Another day dawns in the peaceful little village we know and love so well”.

I feel like that sometimes when I see somewhere in my mind’s eye the sunlight filtering through the palm trees and lighting up the lawn at my parent’s home by the sea, the river coming to life in Bolgoda, the tank at Minneriya calm and quiet save for the splash of early fishermen who offered us a lift home back to our Rest House last year and yes, this year, the paddy fields of Kurunegala and the acres of vegetable gardens with guinea fowl and rooster, goat and chickens, dogs and cows beginning a new day is well… paradise-like and I know we have a legacy of nature unparalleled over there with some beautiful hearts and minds that I could never replace in my lifetime.

However, Sunela’s post on blood ivory  is also an issue facing Sri Lanka. Even though the slaughter was of African elephants Sunela raises the question that such practices are not only against Ahimsa but also would encourage similar atrocities in Sri Lanka. A buddhist country they say well I prefer to say a country blessed with many religions and amongst them the supreme influence of Buddhism. Surely, this tragedy needs the attention of the highest in the land and we shall await further writings on any possible steps or solutions provided by the State.

Sunela Jayawardene don’t give up. There are a few experts like you in Sri Lanka who can speak out so keep the heat on for a positive resolution.

“This illegal shipment is the result of the cruel slaughter of 179 African elephants. Ivory poachers shoot the adults and young animals in an elephant

herd, and hack off the tusks. The babies are left to starve. Soaked in the blood of elephants that died in agony, the tusks are known as blood ivory.

To place blood ivory for veneration in temples that extoll the greatest philosophy of ahimsa, is sacrilegious, and will taint the noble cause and name of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, especially because of the global attention that blood ivory has received.
A recent article in National Geographic Magazine [October 2012] highlighted the horror of blood ivory. As you know, the National Geographic Society has given Sri Lanka excellent reviews as one of the world’s top destinations, but the adverse publicity if this ivory is distributed to temples will surely tarnish this image.”



Dev Wijewardane: An awesome photoessay on the Pantanal, Brazil



Go directly to the Gallery for an exhibition of Dev Wijewardane’s incredible Pantanal photoessay. Scroll down for the iSrilankan interview with Dev.

If the Pantanal is the Mecca of wildlife tourism in Brazil, there are a few prophecies and wise practices we could learn from in protecting our own wildlife-tourism and habitat sustainability experience in Sri Lanka. Dev Wijewardane the disciple who took off on a pilgrimage comes from a family tradition of wildlife enthusiasts who actually learn about the ways of nature and wildlife and have been taught at the toddling stages of wildlife-spotting how man and nature should treat each other.
[Read more…]

Image of the Week


IMAGE OF THE WEEK : Mount Lavinia Hotel January 2013

Image of the Week



IMAGE OF THE WEEK: This photo was taken by Sharni Jayawardena in the village of Muruthana in Kiran, in the Batticaloa district.  People here are largely descendants of the indigenous veddah community engaging in agriculture, manual labour and (some) hunting for a living.

Sharni Jayawardena

Photography for me is neither a hobby nor a profession. It is a preoccupation.  It makes me think and keeps me focused.  A photograph is, of course, a perspective – and a choice. It is a personal statement, an interpretation of reality.  But I see each photograph I take/make more as a document than a piece of art. I think of myself as a documentary photographer.  I worked for decades as a documentary filmmaker before becoming a photographer. The shift from moving images was not a drastic or difficult one.  But it is the still image, I find, that’s the more articulate.



The yet-undiscovered wilderness of Wasgamuwa and its ancient battlefield



Right in the foothills of the Knuckles Ranges, south of Polonnaruwa and North of Matale in a remote corner of Sri Lanka lies Wasgamuwa, one of Sri Lanka’s least explored national parks. It was my first visit to Wasgamuwa since January 2008, second overall and I was very eager to see what I could encounter this time around. I was accompanied by Reza Ghany, Rinosh Nasar, Dilanka Jinadasa and Sashini Abeygunawardene who undertook this trip with me on the long Vesak weekend this May.
[Read more…]

Image of the Week

RIAZ CADER : Mugger Crocodile among the Lily pads in Wasgamuwa
Riaz Cader is Assistant Manager – Nature & Community Projects at Jetwing Hotels and on and off-the-job continues to visit Sri Lanka’s wild places to pursue his passion of wildlife photography. Riaz is a self-trained photographer and uses a Canon EOS 7D body predominantly with a Canon 100-400mmL series lens for wildlife images along with a Canon 24-105mm L series lens and Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lenses for landscapes and portraits.

Riaz Cader can be found on facebook and  flickr