Sri Lanka – Island of Hope

1 x 52 min

Festively decorated riding-elephants divide the mass of pilgrims as a dangerous giant would divide an ocean. They block all the paths to the temple district for days on end. Hundreds of thousands want to go to the Full Moon Festival in Kataragama. Most of them are doing it to keep their promise they made to the almighty Hindu God of War, Skanda. The Sri Lankan native population, the Veddas, honour their Valli Amma here, who, after marrying Skanda, also became a god. Muslims can come to the Khizar-Thakkiya Mosque, just next to the Valli Temple. It is the most important place of pilgrimage in Sri Lanka for all of the religious communities. Religious ecstasies, trance dances, holy and not-so-holy men with pierced cheeks and tongues dance on blazing charcoal: all of this takes place in the metaphysical part of the celebrations, which frame the yearly multi-religious festivities’ tangible aspects. But this sumptuous imagery holds a political dimension as it is often victim of cultural appropriation and assimilation.

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