I hesitate to write this post since it is a criminal offence in Sri Lanka to appear to be mocking Buddhism in any way. Therefore I want to make it clear that what follows are just observations from our trip and, as you can see, put Christianity under exactly the same scrutiny. This blog is trying to think through religious questions that arise in Sri Lanka and India, not to laugh at any religion.

One essential visit in Kandy is the temple of the sacred tooth – which houses fragments of one of the Buddha’s teeth. (It was secretly carried to Sri Lanka from India in the hair of a princess.)

This relic has played a key part in the history of the island as people seek healing from it and have believed that whoever possesses it will rule the land.

Sri Lankans are fairly superstitious people. Today we discovered a huge and nasty wasp in our hotel lobby. The manager seemed rather phlegmatic about it. He explained that there were loads of wasps around because there was a nest on a adjacent building. He appeared personally open to removing the nest but wouldn’t consider that option since Sri Lankans think it is lucky to have wasps nest in your house. Yes, lucky.

I think, by nature, many of us are superstituous. Below is a photo taken as we passed through a town. The local RC community where processing the statue of the virgin Mary from one church to another. It was hard to tell any difference between how this statue was treated from the statue of the Buddha.

Religion always picks up memes (as Dawkins would call them) from the surrounding culture. Watching all this makes me wonder about cultural hang-ups we bring into our Christian faith back in the UK. My hunch is that expectations of being healthy, wealthy and happy would be a good place to start.

I’m (John) starting to feel much better. As a Christian I’ve been musing over how best to explain my recovery – the power of prayer, or good modern medicine? I’m grateful that, as a Christian, I don’t have to choose between those two explanations. I’m fairly confident that it wasn’t because of the wasps though.

image image