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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's President Was A Hero – But Now He's Got To Go

Gotabaya may blame the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war or the earlier COVID-19 pandemic for much of the mess, but there is widespread unanimity that the problems are a product of bad governance for more than a decade.


The very same Gotabaya Rajapaksa who, more than anyone else, cemented the ethnic divide in Sri Lanka by leading a brutal war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has ended up uniting the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims in an unprecedented manner — by presiding over the country’s worst economic meltdown since independence in 1948.

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No Less Than Monks? Buddhist Nuns Seek Gender Equality

The Buddha's "Eight Heavy Rules" included a stipulation that placed Buddhist nuns under the supervision of monks, which have undermined women’s status in the ancient religion.

In recent years, many Buddhist nuns have taken on leadership roles that require either ordination status or academic degrees, all of which was quite unheard of in Buddhist monastic traditions in the past. However, this change has also met with much resistance, as traditionally Buddhism has allowed only men to serve in these roles.

The early Pali Vinaya texts in the Buddhist canon recount how Buddha thrice rejected the request of his foster mother, Mahaprajapati, to be ordained, before his disciple, Ananda, persuaded him to accept women into the monastic body.

Ananda had to make two arguments for his case: an emotional one – that Mahaprajapati had been kind to the Buddha and raised him – and a logical one – that women, too, had the potential to become enlightened.

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A Happier Kind Of Philosophy

I'm not a religious person. As a philosophy teacher, my go-to thinker was Spinoza, who once wrote that religion was created "to deceive the people and to constrain the minds of men" But I guess that if I had to pick one faith, the smiles of Buddhism I discovered throughout my Asian travels would be a nice change from the austere Protestantism of my native eastern France.

A Sri Lankan Mission To Save Endangered Elephants

Deforestation, poaching and civil war have had a devastating impact on Sri Lanka’s elephant population. One orphanage for elephants is working to bring the species back from the brink of extinction.

SABARAGAMUWA — As the sun rises over the lush mountains in the Sri Lankan province of Sabaragamuwa, a team of veterinarians prepare very large bottles of milk. The babies, Pandula and Migara, are orphans and they are definitely hungry. Once presented their breakfast, they impatiently consume it.

The babies are two calves at the Pinnawala Elephants Orphanage.

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Sri Lanka
Antoine Harari and Matteo Maillard

A President’s Downfall, Nepotism And A Ghost Town In Sri Lanka

Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was credited with defeating Tamil guerillas, lost his bid for reelection in 2015. Now, his local fiefdom is suffering.

HAMBANTOTA — This city in southern Sri Lanka has a port, a cricket stadium, and an airport. But with only about 11,000 residents, Hambantota feels like a ghost town. There is also a conference center built in 2013 with capacity to hold up to 1,500 people. It's named after Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was president of Sri Lanka from 2005 to 2015, and is a native of the Hambantota district. Rajapaksa's military defeated the Tamil rebel group LTTE in 2009 after a long civil war, but went on to lose the 2015 presidential election.

Hambantota's conference center has not been used in four years. The center's roughly 50 employees, including 25 security guards, kill time as best they can. They show us the vast rooms that stay desperately empty.

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Sri Lanka
Naeem Sahoutara

No Escape For Traumatized Pakistani Refugees In Sri Lanka

Pakistan is ranked among the most dangerous countries in the world for religious minorities. Marginalized and persecuted for their faith, minorities such as Christians, flee to countries like Sri Lanka.

NEGOMBO Young choir members sing hymns in Sri Lanka's southern city of Negombo. They are singing for strength and patience in difficult times. Unlike Sinhala or Tamil, the languages spoken on this island nation, they're singing in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan.

There are Christians who fled Pakistan to seek asylum in Sri Lanka. One woman, who asks that I don't use her name, tells me a story about being united in love but divided in faith.

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Wish Upon A Line

Members of Sri Lanka"s Hindu minority have a religious custom where they tie a piece of colored cloth to a line. Every knot signifies a wish.


Extra Plump

Statues of Buddhas are famously plump, but these chubby figures at Kelaniya Temple near the Sri Lankan capital Colombo really take the cake.


Sad Roadside Attraction

A few tourists were willing to give this man a couple of rupees to be allowed to approach and touch his chained baby elephant.


Holy Business

Straw hats, maracas, decoratives masks ... The ancient Sri Lankan city of Anuradhapura is considered sacred to the Buddhist world, and a great place to buy just about anything!

Sri Lanka
Ric Wasserman

With Civil War Behind, Business Booms In Tiny Sri Lanka

Few island nations have had better pre-conditions for economic and social development than Sri Lanka, which investors recognize is ripe for growth and tourism. The country has a high literacy rate and free healthcare. But none has suffered as long as Sri

ALAAWA — Sri Lanka's beaches are known for their beauty, but from the mid-1980s until seven years ago few tourists saw them as war raged between government troops and the Tamil Tigers guerilla group. The country slowly imploded, socially and economically.

The few who dared to invest believed that one day the country would again rise. And indeed Sir Lanka began its climb back in May 2009, when the Tamil Tigers were defeated.

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Not only is the Great Stupa, in the ancient Sri Lankan capital of Anuradhapura, considered an architectural marvel, but it is one of the holliest places for Buddhists, as the shrine is believed to contain relics of Buddha.


Fish & Flowers

My wife was walking with a lei garland of flowers around her neck on a on the beach near Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Luckily, it was a windy day, so the ocean breeze kept the smell of the local fish away from us!


The Ladies Of Sigiriya

Of the hundreds of frescoes that once decorated the Sigiriya rock"s western surface, only 19 remain. The exquisitely delicate paintings, in vibrant colors, are said to depict ladies of the king's harem.

Sri Lanka
Julien Bouissou

Lives Remain In Ruin Six Years After Sri Lanka Civil War

For 25 years, the Sri Lankan military waged war against the Tamil Tiger rebels, killing and displacing thousands of people. Though it ended in 2009, militarization remains and people haven't been able to reclaim lands.

JAFFNA — Two meters separate Subnamanigaiyar Kugathasasanma from the past. Two meters of soil surrounded by barbed wire. Bare chested, his waist wrapped in a white sarong, he looks at the wrecked home he left in haste 25 years ago as if he were contemplating a memory. He hadn't returned to his bullet-riddled shack since 1990.

"We had to leave quickly to flee the fighting," he says pointing to his pruning knife on the other side of the barbed wire. "I left behind my land titles and some personal belongings that you can see over there."

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