By Swarna Wickremeratne

Combining memoir, heritage, and present-day narrative, this e-book describes how Buddhism is lived in Sri Lanka.

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In order to retain the balance, an herbal soup (kasaya), was prescribed. It included leaves, barks, roots, and flowers of creepers, trees, or bushes, familiar to the villagers. Servants in the household gathered the ingredients to make the decoction, prescribed by the vedamahattaya. As a young person I had many of these decoctions for ailments. Herbal materials were cut, sliced, or powdered coarsely, and one part of the amalgamation was boiled in four, eight, or sixteen parts of water (usually cups) and finally reduced to a quarter.

Some lived in her house while working in a factory or a government office since they could not afford to pay for board and lodging. Once I had an argument with her for giving away one of my favorite saris to a girl to be worn at an interview. When I asked her why she did not give one of my older dresses, she said that the girl needed something nice and that my old clothes were not good enough. Those who had been with her for a long period were married off with dowries of land and money. Edwin was one such.

My mother by contrast came from a traditional, established Sinhala Buddhist family. She was quite the opposite of my father. Even as children we saw the contrast, the disagreements, and wondered why they had ever got together. My mother from our early days was determined to make us all Buddhists, and she worked hard at it. My grandmother came from Anuradhapura (a city famous for religious worship, also the ancient capital of Ceylon). She was a Buddhist but different from my mother. She was light hearted, fun loving, and unconventional.

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