Most of the Sri Lankans that one comes into contact with in the western and southern regions of the country are Sinhalese. They speak Sinhala and are likely Buddhist. This is not the case in Batticaloa.
From Tamils and Moors to Sinhalese and Burghers – and from Hindus and Muslims to Christians and Buddhists – Batticaloa has much to offer in the areas of cultural exploration and understanding.
Batticalonians are also more than willing to extend invitations to the array of cultural and spiritual activities conducted throughout the city on a daily basis.
In the short time that I spent in Batti, I had the chance to observe a special celebration of Burgher culture, attend the annual Roman Catholic craft fair and visit a number of temples, mosques and churches.
Nothing, however, topped the lunchtime puja. Donned in a sarong, I was provided with the opportunity to partake in the Hindu ceremony at a locally-renowned temple located only a few kilometers outside of Batticaloa.
My attendance surprised many of the worshipers unaccustomed to foreign guests given the lack of international travelers in the area. Still, I was welcomed by all and even presented with a special gift – a plate of food featuring a rice mixture and bananas among other items – by a temple staff member at the end of the service.