Thursday, March 29, 2012


Every country has their set of folklore derived from ancient recordings and archaeological proof. The Sinhala greatly impacted by Buddhism has much to offer in terms of legends and folklore.
The early Buddha text teaches that that reincarnation occurs as it is said to be evolving consciousness. According to Buddhism there is no permanent soul. That karma just passes on from one life to another. Sinhalese folklore present real cases of children between the age of 2-4 yrs begin to relate experiences and events of a past life.
One such case involved a girl named Gnanatilaka. She was born on 14th February 1956 in Kotamale in Sri Lanke (Ceylon). The case started in 1960 when she was 4 ½ years old and told her parents that she wishes to meet her real parents. She claimed that she was actually a boy named Tilakaratna and lived at a tea estate near Talawakele, about 30 miles from where she lived. As professors from Ceylon University heard the story they accompanied her to visit the other family. Gnanatilaka introduced the other two parents by their names to the professors and also used the nicknames of each family member in the house. In the present life the two families had never met prior to this incident. The former life parents were interviewed; they described the character and habits of their son who had passed away on 9th November 1954. Gnanatilaka refuse to talk with her former younger brother. The former parents explained that the two brothers is always fighting and quarrelling with each other.
Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia, flew from America to Ceylon to investigate the case. Stevenson is a researcher who specifies in rebirth cases. was the former head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia who devoted many years to the scientific documentation of past life memories of children from all over the world  and has investigated 180 cases from Sri Lanka. He termed Gnanatilaka’s case as important and the best by far in rebirth cases as the evidence and factual presentation appear to be real and not falsified.
Another case followed up by Stevenson and Godwin (his interpretor) was of Duminda Bandara Ratnayake. He was about three years old when he started to speak about a life as a chief-monk at the Asgiriya monastery in Kandy and often expressed his wish to visit that temple. The Asgiriya monastery is one of the largest monasteries in Sri Lanka, and its monks share with the Malvatta monastery the privilege of guarding the Temple of the Tooth, one of the foremost places of pilgrimage in Theravada Buddhism. The statements often heard by the boy were that he had been a senior monk, had owned a red car, a radio, money bag and had an elephant. The boy would obeyed cleanliness rules and objected to the touch of his mother’s hands as well as other girls.
They investigated the statements recorded by him and came as far finding a match with Ven. Gunnepana Saranankara, who was chief monk of the Asgiriya monastery from 1921 to 1929.
Other types of lore record the Sinhala ritual which delves with demons and gods. The rituals were performed to rid evil and protect those from its influence and to heal them. In the book titled ‘A Methodology for The Collection of The Sinhala Ritual’, S.G. Samarasinghe mentioned three important rituals:
“1.Rafa Yakuma (Ceremony of the Country Demons) which is performed "For the purpose of ensuring safe delivery to pregnant women and for protecting the child in the womb or for securing health to the infant already born, or in order to make a barren woman conceive.
2.Gam Maduwa (Ceremony of the Village Hall) is a ritual performed as "a manifestation of gratitude towards the deity and expresses the people's happiness that the danger, has, at last, happily passed away. The performance of this ceremony may, upon occasion, be extended up to seven days and seven nights, and so actually becomes a village f e a ~ t " . ~It is also very often performed to bring good luck and prosperity to the entire community in the village.
3. Huniyam Kapima (Cutting the Huniyam Charm) is a magical rite intended to remove the influence of the Demon called Huniyam who is supposed to be inflicting people with grievous diseases.”
Similar to 'Gam Maduwa' rituals, Kohomba Kankariya(KK) ritual is performed to ensure freedom from diseases, invoke blessings and for the people to live in prosperity. The blessings are expected to manifest only in the location that KK is enacted, so that if any others want such blessings, they too are compelled to enact KK in their own areas.

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