Sri Lanka is famous to Hindu devotees as the land of the Demon King Ravana. The Hindu epic, the Ramayana dwells on the beauty and splendour of Sri Lanka, for Ravana was said to be a rich king, the brother of Kubera, the treasurer of the Gods.
Ravana was deemed a great and good king by his own subjects and it is said that he is depicted with 10 heads, not because he was some kind of monster but because he had knowledge worthy of filling 10 heads. Yet all his knowledge, power and achievements had failed to remove his basic desire for women, legend says.
The fault was compounded when he went against all tenets of Hindu Dharma in seeking to seduce another’s wife and kidnapped the Indian princess Sita in her husband’s absence.
There are an estimated 50 sites in Sri Lanka, connected to the Ramayana of which the group visited four. They started the tour with a visit to the only Hanuman temple in Colombo, in Kalubowila. Hanuman is said to be the foremost among Rama’s devotees, the one who managed to leap from India to Sri Lanka in one bound to locate Sita, before Rama built a bridge to cross over.
From there, the pilgrims went to Munneshwaram temple near Chilaw. An ancient Shiva temple whose origins are lost in obscurity, Munneshwaram is said to be the temple where Rama got down to pray from the Pushpaka Vimana (Flying vehicle), on his way back to India after the war.
The next stop on the tour, was Ashok Vatika in Sita Eliya, a garden in which Sita was held captive and at which there is a temple dedicated to her.
The last stop was at Devurumpola in Welimada where Sita is said to have undergone a fire test to prove her purity and chastity after being held as Ravana’s captive.
The leader of the Indian group, an ex-soldier who has now devoted his life to Lord Rama, Ajay Swamiji of Thirveni Seva Mission Delhi, led them all in bhajans as they wound up their tour. They were joined by Chandrasekar Swami of the Hanuman temple.
By Thulasi Muttulingam