I am overflowing with happiness that my daughter (duwa) and son-in-law (baena), Julia and Jose, have come to visit us in Sri Lanka. It is really an honor that they came all the way here,carving some time out of their super busy lives. Of course we've tried to show and feed them the best of Sri Lanka.
A wonderful celebratory start at our guesthouse in Mt. Lavinia, where milk rice and New Years treats were served for their first breakfast, after a warm invitation to partake in song with the guesthouse staff, who have adopted us as their own, on New Year's Eve.
Now we are deep in Rajarata at our favorite guesthouse in Anuradhapura where we were treated like royalty last time. They must have gotten some nasty trip advisor reviews because here they are empty during the height of the high season. But we love them here and are happy to be the only guests.
Our wonderful driver took is this morning to Mihintale, a place of heightened energy and great beauty. But first I asked him to take us to one of my favorite village tanks, just a km west of town, where I had the privilege of showing Julia and Jose a full human-built lake in its glory, nature abounding, the rice fields an almost iridescent green, and water overflowing above the spillway, where a few women and children were playing in the water. Janet rolled up her pants and joined them. A special moment in a very special place.
I began to get sympathetic jetlag with the kids at about noon, when Janet noticed an icon at the entrance to a ruined building at the Singhe Pokuna (Lion's Pond). "Of course," Susil entoned, "that's the Punkalasa symbol. We do something like that even now with a coconut flower. It represents fullness."
"But Susil," I asked, don't the two 'arms' remind you of the spillways of a tank? They look like they're overflowing."
"That's what they're supposed to symbolize. The symbol is for overflowing abundance. Like the goddess Lakshmi."
At once my incoherent contingent rambling conjectures seemed to be answered. My happiness truly overflowed in getting an informal affirmation of what I've been thinking almost since we got here. Iconographic symbols relating to tanks and tank function abound.
They are deeply embedded in the visit and plastic arts of this country.
They represent a kind of extension of the genius that was invested in building the tanks.
They are at their heart Sri Lankan.