The next day started with a small blessing note for the kids in the morning breakfast and the kids taking blessings from us, and the host. The host has asked the kids to call him as “appa” (father and his wife as ‘amma’ mother, for a close relationship. He has inculcated the habit of respecting the elders by taking the blessings.
The breakfast was very delicious and nutritious. I learnt all the Homes had to follow some minimum rules of variety food and good living conditions, set by the Government. The home gives variety of food every day, and thus the expenditure per day varies from Rs. 15000 to Rs 25000.
After our breakfast we started fro mannar, our added next destination. This place was not in our itinerary, but since we had a spare extra day, we decided to go there too. Before leaving the host asked to write a note on the comment book. I wrote ‘I invoke the blessings of Lord Triconeswara to end the necessity for this and other homes’. We came back to the bus stand to take a bus to mannar.
It is easy to go to mannar from vavuniya, and the frequency of bus service to vavuniya is more than a direct bus to mannar. This trip was memorable for two wrong reasons. First is, the bus had a very blaring sound system which to our surprice was playing tamil songs. But, this apart, the young man sitting next to me was singing all the songs loudly, till the end of the travel, fortunately I was saved from this torture, when he moved to another seat. Second is, the travel time is less than three hours, and I wanted to cool the system by drinking tender coconut that is available aplenty in Sri Lanka. So, we each drank a tender coconut in the bus stand itself before alighting the bus. But since the tender coconut was so sweet, I decided to have one more, against the suggestion of my friend. This is where the trouble started, I thought I will sweat it out, but the climate was very pleasant, I thought I will use the washroom in the place where he stops, and this did not happen for long. The bus took a long time to leave Trinco, since the driver and conductor took time to take the blessings of all the deities’ en-route, and more importantly the Kali temple that is one of the important places of worship. One can imagine (or can they?) the plight i was going through for the next one and half hour.
We reached Vavuniya without any other incident. It was easy to find a vegetarian eatery easily, and there are many in Vavuniya. We had meals, we tried the red rice that is the native rice of Lanka, since we had eaten the other form of rice, white rice in other places. From Vavuniya we took the bus to Mannar. These places were the most affected during the war, and the road is being laid, therefore we travelled on the dusty roads.
This is something I noticed in Lanka, when compared to India, in tamil nadu (north) we can see the corners occupied by some temple, and in south it will be occupied by a small Christian Cross, in kerala every corner will be occupied by the Cross of different sects. Similarly, in the south of Lanka it was mostly occupied by the Christian cross, and in the north of Lanka it was occupied predominantly by the statue of Buddha, and all these are new constructions. The business establishments, mostly hotels, are run by Muslims.
We reached Mannar around 3.00 pm, and were received by two people, who are friends of some friend. We were taken to some places in the Mannar region. They had arranged for a sight-seeing of Talai-Mannar (where the bridge built by Rama can be seen in the Ocean), after taking the permission from the Navy, but since we did not have enough time, we declined this offer.
We were invited to the Kumbabhishekam of a Mariamman temple in a close-by location, which our two friends took us to. The people were very happy to receive two Sadhus from India. After this we were taken to Thiruketishwaram.
Thiruketishwaram is one of the five important shiva temples in Sri Lanka. We visited three out of five except Munishwaram and Nakuleswaram, which is in south and north tips respectively. In Thiruketishwaram we stayed in a rest house called Ammai-Appan Illam.
This Ammai-Appan Illam is run by an old lady, who is very pious and devoted to the Lord. Every morning she picks up flowers from the garden and makes garlands, herself for each and every deity in the temple. She told us, she chose this path of peace after the death of her two Doctor daughters, who succumbed to Cancer. But though there is a sorrow when she narrated this, there is no worry when she performs the service to the Lord. She visits the temple for the puja, and visits each and every deity along with the priest.
Thiruketishwaram is an elegant temple, which is visited by people from all over Sri Lanka. The renovation of this temple is done by the Indian Government (there was a sign board saying Kum. Shelja, Minister of Culture inaugurated this project). After the darshana of Thiruketishwaram and his consort Gauri amman, we returned with the Lady to the illam (home) alogn with some other devotees. After coming back to the home, they wanted to have a satsang, so I spoke about Bhakti and Gnana, and Sri Ramana Mahrshi in the line.
After the satsang, the old Lady made some Dosa and Puttu with coconut chatni, it was full of love. With this we retired for the day.
Though there are other place for rest, these places were built for the tourist who throng the yearly festival, like shivaratri madom etc, there was no activity as far as we saw.