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Month: February 2022

Folk Tales- Mahasona the Great Graveyard Demon

Folk Tales- Mahasona the Great Graveyard Demon

Maha Sona is a fearsome demon in Sinhalese folklore. The most powerful demon second to none, who is believed to haunt the afterlife, especially on graveyards surrounded by human corpses, large rocks and hills, and Junctions where three roads meet, are the most common haunting grounds of this demon. Demon kills its human prey by crushing their shoulders and also by afflicting illnesses. It usually kills people at night and dusk when confronted alone and leaves his mark of a hand embossed on the flesh of the body, he is also able to possess humans. In such cases, exorcism rituals are performed by Kattadiya (exorcist specialist) to repel the demon.

Maha Sona is formally known as Ritigala Jayasena, a human warrior giant who served in King Dutugemunu’s army among the 10 great Giants. There was a celebration after the victory from the war between invading king Elara and King Dutugemunu. 10 Great Giants also participated in this ceremony with their families.

Jayasena offended another fierce warrior in a drunken stupor by insulting his beautiful wife. Gotaimbara challenges him for a battle and schedules a date and the time for the fight on a graveyard. On the scheduled day, the duel began with a grand ceremony. They fought with each other showing their strength.

The fight began with a grand ceremony. They fought with each other showing off their strength. Gotaimbara decapitates Jayasena by a single flying kick onto Jayasena’s head.

Seeing the embarrassing situation of Jayasena, a deity called “Wesamuni” took pity and tries to resurrect before the cadaver goes cold, but the deity couldn’t find his head on time. Time has passed. There is no more time left before the body goes cold forever. In the chaos of finding Jayasena’s head, the deity found a bear head in a hurry and fit it backwards to Jayasena’s body and revives him in the grotesque form, he is also given some supernatural powers as a newly born demon.

People who encountered him were terrified to the point of falling ill mostly because he was found on graveyards. This new persona is dubbed as ‘Maha Sona’ meaning in Sinhala “Great Demon of the Graveyard”.

Wew Maalu- A Freshwater Fish Feast

Wew Maalu- A Freshwater Fish Feast

The fishermen begin the day, with a prayer, at six in the morning. Two men would sleepily stumble to the little craft called the ‘Theppama’ and row to the middle of the wewa. The craft has to be manoeuvred with a bamboo pole like a witch stirring her cauldron thickly, and both men have to stand, the boat being frail.

One of them will cast the net at a spot favoured by the shoals of fish, and then they will row back to the shore. Later in the morning, they would sail back and haul in their catch. The best of the fish you can be blessed with here are the Loola (Snakehead murrel), the Seppali (Giant gourami) and the Korali (Green chromide). Once the catch is hauled ashore, the still protesting and thudding fish are taken in deep cane baskets to be sold.

Wewu maalu is either cooked or fried. The traditional homemaker has a favourite recipe for curried Wewu maalu. The fish is divided into good-sized chunks and are marinated heartily with an aromatic paste of pepper, chilli, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and sweet cumin seeds as well as tamarind. Oil is then heated in a pot, mustard seeds are thrown in, and green chilli, karapincha, onion and rampe are added. Finally, the fish are ladled in and cooked till the gravy is a simmering orange-brown.

If you are to fry them, slice them into leaner pieces than you would for the curry, pickle them finely with turmeric, salt and pepper into the oil and then, voila! You get a fluffy, fleshy fish with which to account for any amount of rice and coconut sambol.

Kidu – An all in one dish

Kidu – An all in one dish

A unique all in one meal that can serve an entire family. This dish is a speciality of the Sri Lankan Muslim Community. Best known from the Southern coastal region of Galle and Beruwala, this dish is much loved by all Sri Lankans.

This fragrant meal is laboriously prepared and consists of short-grain rice cooked in butter, screwpine and coconut milk.

Many variations are found, but kidu is often served with a side of sweet onion and capsicum pickle, dhal (lentils) curry, fried beef or chicken, beef curry, and kaliya, which is a mixed dish of ash plantain, fried eggplant and chicken liver. Although most commercial kidu will leave out the chicken liver.

Kidu is sold in a woven basket made of coconut leaves fall through, and the gravies and accompaniments all poured right onto the rice in different spots making the whole thing completely biodegradable.

Though one can serve one desired quantity to a plate and enjoy, the traditional way to enjoy a Kidu is to sit down on the ground on mats and eat from the Kidu itself using one hand. This is a cultural tradition that brings the community together. Unfortunately with the ravages of COVID-19, such practices may not be prevalent in the near future.

The Sri Lanka Bay Owl- An Elusive Species found deep in the Rainforests of Sri Lanka

The Sri Lanka Bay Owl- An Elusive Species found deep in the Rainforests of Sri Lanka

The Sri Lanka Bay Owl (Phodilus assimilis) is a species of bay owl in the family Tytonidae. It is endemic to the island of Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats in Kerala, South-Western India. It was considered a subspecies of the Oriental Bay Owl (Phodilus badius) but is now treated as a full species due to its distinctive call, plumage and disjunction distribution.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montane forests and subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland. It is threatened by habitat loss.

The Sri Lanka Bay Owl was described by the English politician and naturalist Allan Octavian Hume in 1873 but it was only in 1877 that he introduced the binomial name Phodilus assimilis. The genus name Phodilus is from the Ancient Greek phōs for “light” or “daylight” and deilos for “timid” or “cowardly”. The specific epithet assimilis is the Latin for “similar” or “like”.

It was earlier considered a subspecies of the Oriental Bay Owl Phodilus Badius but is now treated as a separate species based on differences in call and plumage.

Their call is almost “un-owl like” given its almost whistling pitch and melodious tune. When visiting the deep tropical rainforests of Sinharaja and Kitulgala one might hear this distinctive call at night. But seeing one in its day roost is a completely different story.

Many seasoned birders have rarely seen this extremely shy and elusive bird, who is found very rarely even in these parts.

The Sri Lanka Bay Owl is by far the rarest and most difficult species of owl in Sri Lanka to see.

Classic Wild has developed a close bond with the local communities bordering these lush lowland rainforests giving us the ability to maintain a close rapport with the village trackers and spotters who enable us to have the best hit rate in finding and spotting this rarest of the rare species for our clientele.

Kalu’s Hideaway- A Jungle Retreat with a truly Sri Lankan Flavour

Kalu’s Hideaway- A Jungle Retreat with a truly Sri Lankan Flavour

Blending the nature and wildlife theme along with Sri Lanka’s favorite pastime – Cricket, the beautiful safari lodge Kalu’s Hideaway is a perfect example of a truly Sri Lankan dwelling.

Udawalawe National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s top national parks, with year-round sightings of the Sri Lankan Elephant as well as many rare migrant species. It is a well-known hotspot for sightings of the elusive Jungle Cat. This park is truly a must for any wildlife itinerary.

Located fifteen minutes from the national park lies a truly unique property owned by one of Sri Lanka’s most loved legendary cricketers Romesh Kaluwitharane – fondly known as “Kalu”. This jungle retreat is a haven after a long day on safari.

As you enter the property, you will be welcomed to a reception with some beautiful wildlife themed décor and imagery, and as you walk down towards the lobby you will see a beautiful museum-quality gallery of cricket memorabilia. Cricket is Sri Lanka’s favourite pastime and part and parcel of what it means to be Sri Lankan. Hence a property that blends this passion with wildlife and nature is truly a one of a kind.

The bedrooms are spacious and luxurious with private balconies extending to views of the lush tropical greenery of the property’s estate.

With impeccable service and mouthwatering cuisine, this is the perfect “hideaway” to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city as well as an ideal retreat after a long day of safari.