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 •

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 •

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”

Special Feature — THE FORGOTTEN TEMPLE: Dakkinagiriya & the Other Kaludiya Pokuna

A thousand-year-old ‘mountain monastery’, lost in the Kaludiya Pokuna Forest, east of Dambulla; forgotten by the tour guides, and seemingly by time itself. For the visitor seeking something literally off the beaten track, the Dakkinagiri Viharaya is an intriguing but serene detour away from the well-trodden sites of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle.”

The stupa of the 9th century Dakkinagiri Viharaya, with Erawalgala behind it.
Continue reading “Special Feature — THE FORGOTTEN TEMPLE: Dakkinagiriya & the Other Kaludiya Pokuna”

Someone’s at the Door #2

The Aluth Maligawa Entrance, Temple of the Tooth, Kandy. Sri Lanka, October 2018. Shermaine Willis and Anuradha Perera, for Ashraff Associates and The Radh, Kandy.

• 24mm • f/8 • 1/2000 • ISO800 • 5DMkIV & EF24-105/4L 

Hewisi Pooja, Temple of the Tooth, Kandy #4

thammettama drummer plays during a musical ceremony on the lower floor of the temple’s main shrine. The twin thammettama are traditional Sri Lankan drums, played with curved sticks called kadippuwa, in Sinhalese. Hewisi is a form of religious music once reserved for use by Kandyan royal decree. Today, hewisi is still used almost exclusively in Buddhist ceremonies, and is seen as an offering in itself. Shot on assignment for The New York Times in December 2018.

• 105mm • f/4 • 1/30 • ISO1000 •

Pleas to the Uncaring

Prayer flags flutter below the bo tree (Ficus religiosa) of the 18th century Padeniya Buddhist temple. Sri Lanka, May 2022.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/640 • ISO100 •

One More Messiah

With an image of the Buddha tattooed on his forehead, this monk assured me he would one day be the leader of Sri Lanka; just as soon as Gota went home. He also told me he could drive any vehicle on land or sea, and knew how to use everything from a 9mm pistol to a T56 to an RPG. He said he’d lived in Jaffna throughout the war and that the ‘Koti’ had taught him everything he knew. ‘Gotagogama’, the ad hoc protest village of tents, shacks, and portable lavatories set up on Galle Face Green, in early April, attracts all sorts; from communist student bodies to local ladies’ book clubs; all united in wanting Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapakse and his government to step down, accused of corruption and ineptitude, and the creation of the worst economic crisis in the country’s modern history. Colombo, May 2022.

• 60mm • f/5 • 1/50 • ISO6400 •