Sunday, January 1, 2012

Temple of the Tooth

Smuggling the tooth to Sri Lanka
Lower shrine for the tooth
We headed back through the various tuktuks to town, now for the Temple of the Tooth. As the story goes, the tooth is an incisor from the Buddha's funeral pyre and has been preserved, fought over, hidden, stolen, and threatened throughout the ages. As the story goes, it was smuggled to Sri Lanka at one point in time by a princess and her husband  and since then has been housed in numerous temples under many different kings. It is considered to be a very important relic and many come to visit the shrine. Sadly the fight over the tooth has not ended - there was even a modern day attempt at destroying it - a suicide bomber drove a truck up in the area and detonated it, destroying quite a bit of the entrance and temple but fortunately not the shrine that holds the tooth.

Current home of the tooth
Procession with the tooth
There is a fabulous museum nearby that has been created with contributions from Buddhist communities around the world. While all of them share a common heritage, and common holidays, the temples, the celebrations, and rituals all differ from each other. It was also somewhat amazing to realize that we had been to many of the temples...and how many more are left to explore.
One issue with food on these trips are the huge buffets they usually like to take you to. They are expensive and they have far more food than what I am interested in eating - plus 3/4 is meat so it's a bit limiting anyway. The buffets usually run anywhere from $10 to $30 and the food plate food, what can I say. On the other side, buying at smaller places, curry and rice can be had for $4, or less, and it's delicious. We found our favorite restaurant here...The White House. It has marvelous food - and most of it is between $4 and $5. We have been exploring different Indian curries here - now I just hope we can find some of them at home! Either that or we're going to have to learn how to make them ourselves. Sri Lanka serves curry very differently from what we usually get in Indian restaurants. At home, you get the one dish you ordered, with rice or naan (or both). Here, they serve you your main curry along with 4 or 5 small vegetable curries that go along with it. It’s an amazing amount of food because even though they’re small portions…there’s a lot of them. We always had enough food for 4 people, at least!

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