It has been a week since the heavy loss of lives, limbs, hopes and spirits, as Sri Lanka continues to reel from the devastating Easter Sunday bombings that has claimed more than 250 lives. The bigger heartbreak is that it came just three weeks after the New Zealand shootings, when the dust was still struggling to settle.
Once again, the victims were soft targets. People, including many children, going to places of worship to fulfill their religious obligations, not in the least anticipating the horrors awaiting them.
As bombs exploded in churches and hotels, a young generation of children raised in a violence free era, were brutally reminded of the country’s past history.
Once again, the world has been reacting in disbelief, showering its attention and love on the victims and generally grappling with how to deal with such continuous mindless acts of violence.
As a gesture of solidarity with the Commonwealth nations, Britain’s Prince William is now on a visit to New Zealand, in the aftermath of the shootings that claimed 50 lives. The future King, in one of his addresses, said New Zealand “during the unspeakable act of hate, had achieved something remarkable. You stood up and you stood together.”
This speech can apply just as much to Sri Lanka, where its people have shown remarkable resilience in dealing with such a major disruption to its peace, a decade after the end of its crippling civil war.
This beautiful island knows it has to be back on its feet, to raise its spirits once again and heal its tourist driven economy that’s already seeing many cancellations, with experts estimating a 30 percent drop in tourist arrivals this year.
More than anything, Sri Lanka cannot allow this setback to halt the remarkable road to recovery it was on. If anything, the people of Sri Lanka can rest assured they are on the minds of the world’s peace-loving people.
Since time immemorial there have been many peace traditions practiced by so many cultures all over the world. Modern civilisations may have overlooked such practices in pursuit and preference of science and technology, not bad in themselves, but it is worth noting, the world can now do with more such peace initiatives.
On that note, here are some traditions from around the world that all share a common theme – to move away from chaos and allow peace to reign.
This ancient Tibetan Buddhist penance is not just for personal spiritual fulfillment but when performed in masses, which is usually the case, it is also for peace and prosperity for all of humanity. It is arguably the most grueling ritual, as pilgrims prostrate themselves after every step of a wintry, mountainous journey that lasts two weeks and over 105 kms.
Castells – Spanish art of human towers
This Catalan sport serves as an important cultural symbol for communities, requiring people to come together and demonstrate cooperation to build something bigger than just themselves. The festivities surrounding the building of the human castells [castles] not only require strength, balance, courage and mindfulness, but they also bring together people of all walks of life together, irrespective of their backgrounds.
Loy Krathong Festival
This is a Thai tradition that has gained much international recognition. ‘Loy’ means float and ‘Krathong’ is small container. It is a public holiday in the country where celebrations begin at sundown on the full moon day in November. The tradition of releasing a sky lantern symbolises problems and worries floating away. Krathongs are also floated in water, traditionally a piece of a banana tree trunk containing a candle, incense and flowers – to float away past mistakes and negative thoughts and more importantly, it symbolises the letting go of anger and hatred.
This worship is performed every dusk in the ancient city of Varanasi on the banks of the river Ganges come rain or shine. It is a resplendent ritual involving water, flowers, lamps, incense and various other ritual objects to dispel darkness and act as thanksgiving for the benevolence and grace bestowed in humankind. The aarti is a daily reminder of the need to break free from the stress and strain of life and ingest joy, reverence and peace.
Chado – finding peace with tea
The objective of this traditional Japanese tea ceremony, performed with grace and beauty, is to create a relaxed communication between host and guest. It is based in part on the etiquette of serving tea, but it also includes the intimate connections with architecture, landscape gardening and all the other elements that coexist in harmonious relationship with the ceremony. Its ultimate aim is the attainment of deep spiritual satisfaction through the drinking of tea in silent contemplation, building on values of humility, purity, reverence and harmony.
Aboriginal smoking ceremony
This is an ancient custom among Indigenous Australians and is a gesture of goodwill, bringing people together and healing them. The ceremony involves various native plants that are used to produce a wet, steamy smoke. These aromatic plants are believed to have powerful cleansing properties to ward off bad spirits. The leaves are set alight and the healing smoke purifies the space where the ceremony takes place, as the performers acknowledge ancestors and pay their respects to their land and each other.
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