© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Occupations Food Production Market Small Business Building Other Occupations

Tsunami Pirit 2005

The Market Traders are often formed into Associations and support each other. For example traders will mind the adjacent stall for their neighbours on market days.

When the terrible Asian Tsunami struck on Boxing Day 2004, Hambantota Town Market was in “full swing”. This market is a weekly market and held on the sea front, so when the 3 devastating waves came crashing in, there was terrible loss of life. Many stall holders and customers were drowned. Bodies, stalls, stock and takings were swept away by the waves.

In February 2005, the surviving traders held a Pirit  for their lost colleagues and customers. They cooked for the monks of Ambalantota Temple.

The monks processed from the Temple to Ambalantota Market Building where the traders had provided a lavish meal. Before eating this meal the monks led prayers and the Senior Monk delivered a sermon.

Outside the Hall, photographs of some of the Tsunami market trader victims  had been collected and were displayed for the survivors to contemplate.

Arrival of the Monks -  

Men held a white cloth over their head to shade them from the sun. As each monk entered the Market Building, his feet were respectfully washed of dust in the customary way.

They then processed into the Market Hall to take their places

The white cloth was carefully folded up when all the monks had entered.

Inside the Market Hall, the laity respectfully bowed as the monks passed them to take up their places

When all the monks were in place, the head monk led the people in traditional Buddhist  prayers, The people respectfully sat on the floor before and below the monks. After this the minks ate the vegetarian meal and were presented with their gifts - new robes, umbrellas, washing soap, brooms to sweep the Temple etc.

Dishing up the food. The plates were covered with plastic wrap to keep away flies.

The Monks were served after the Buddhist “service” and a sermon delivered by the head monk.

After they were presented with their gifts, they returned to the Temple. Then the people were served.

The Hall was decorated with the Buddisst colours. A Pujah (offering area) was erected near the entrance

Preparing the Pirit food. The cooks worked from early morning preparing the vegetarian curries and rice.

Men used a machine to extract the flesh for the coconut milk

Her late husband

Preparations for the arrival of the monks

Pujah Area & prepared area for Monks

Gifts for the Monks

Viewing the photographs of the victims