Dragon Light

An intricately designed Vesak lantern by the roadside in Colombo. Most Vesak lanterns are simple 12-panelled bamboo and paper constructions made at home, but not so these huge two-storey electrically powered rotating contraptions that compete with each other for the crowds (and often for a cash prize). In the past, many of these were commissioned by trade unions, craft cooperatives, and other social clubs, but today, they’re most likely built by the military, under orders to make this Buddhist celebration a success. Sri Lanka, May 2023.

• 48mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO2000 • Canon R6 & RF24-70/2.8L •


Thelme Dancers

Navam Mawatha, Colombo. Vesak Poya, May 2023.*

• 50mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO26500 • Canon R6 & RF24-70/2.8L •

Colombo Celebrates Vesak

City skyline over the Beira Lake. May 2023.

• 24mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO1000 • Canon R6 & RF24-70/2.8L •

Tales of Power

A two-storey stone fresco (above) on the exterior of the Gangaramaya Temple, in Slave Island, depicting different chapters in the Buddha’s journey from birth to enlightenment to death, is mobbed by sightseers on Vesak Poya night. Colombo, May 2023. Meanwhile (below), a more traditional pandal sits forlornly in the waterlogged Stanley Jansz Grounds nearby, its electricity supply disrupted by faulty wiring.

• 24mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO3200 • Canon R6 & RF24-70/2.8L •

• 45mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO2500 •

Thelme Dancer

Navam Mawatha, Colombo. Vesak Poya, May 2023.

• 50mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO20000 • Canon R6 & RF24-70/2.8L •

The Light of Kāmacchanda

Gangaramaya Temple, Colombo. Vesak Poya, May 2023.

• 70mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO250 • Canon R6 & RF24-70/2.8L •

• 50mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO1000 •
• 35mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO1250 •

The Last Refuge

The Temple of the Tooth, in the morning light of Kandy. Built in the early 18th century as a royal palace for Vira Narendra Sinha, the last Sinhalese king, it was converted into a temple to house the Tooth Relic of the Buddha. The moat and the octagonal Paththirippuwa pavilion were added in 1802 by Sri Vickrama Rajasingha, the last king of Kandy. Designed by the royal architect, Devendra Moolacharya, the pavilion’s eight points were meant to radiate from the king as he displayed the Tooth Relic to the crowds below, reinforcing his position at the centre of the world. The name Paththirippuwa comes from the Tamil words, parthu (meaning ‘to see’) and irippu (to be ‘seated’), and together sound like ‘to sit and see’, and many take this as evidence that Tamil was in fact the lingua franca of the Lankan aristocracy. After the British seized Kandy in 1815, the Paththirippuwa was converted into an oriental library, and thus it remains today, housing the temple’s collection of Buddhist palm leaf manuscripts and books. Shot for the New York Times in December 2018.

• 24mm • f/4 • 1/2500 • ISO400 • Canon 5DMkIII & EF24-105/4L •

Special Feature – IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOUNTAIN OF A GOD: a Visit to the Temples of Saman

The legends disagree on the exact method in which Sumana Saman became a god, but what is clear is that Adam’s Peak, or Siripada, is believed to be his earthly home, and the centre of his influence and protection.”

The Mountain of Saman, Sumanakuta, also known as Siripada and Adam’s Peak, as seen across the Kuru Ganga Valley, close to Ratnapura.
Continue reading “Special Feature – IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOUNTAIN OF A GOD: a Visit to the Temples of Saman”

Blind Faith

A blind woman prays at the main altar of St Lucia’s Cathedral, Kotahena. 21st April 2021. Lucia of Syracuse, venerated by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches as St Lucy, is the patron saint of the blind. In medieval accounts, Lucia’s eyes were gouged out before her execution during the 4th century Diocletianic Persecution, but that they were seen to be miraculously restored before her burial. Probably the best known of the Virgin Martyrs, she is one of only eight women commemorated in the Roman Catholic Canon of the Mass. St Lucia’s Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Colombo, and is said to be Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest parish cathedral. Construction began in 1872, but work was halted or delayed periodically for lack of funds and, though the cathedral began serving mass in 1881, it wasn’t until 1902 that the building was declared complete.

• 16mm • f/2.8 • 1/160 • ISO1600 •  5DMkIV & EF16-35/2.8L courtesy Canon/Metropolitan


Sri Lankan Muslims pray at sunset, waiting for the announcement that it is time for ifthar, the evening meal that breaks the daily fast the faithful of Islam are expected to endure at Ramazan. On Sunday, thousands of Muslims, and well-wishers from other faiths, gathered to eat together at Independence Square, in Colombo, in a show of unity that has come under some strain in recent years as chauvinistic Buddhist elements and a nationalist government conducted a hate campaign against the minority Muslim community that led to outbreaks of violence between 2014 and 2019.