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Kataragama Kæle Kendra yogashram

photo journal by Patrick Harrigan

Farmer Tennekoon sweeping in front of the ashram in Kataragama in its first year around 1992. The style of hut is typical of the Kataragama area of Uva Province of Sri Lanka -- very small without windows but with small holes in the walls to serve as windows (you can see out easily but it is not so easy for one to see in) and for ventilation, which is of primary concern in hot climates. The floor and walls are plastered with cow dung which does not give any smell at all and actually has antiseptic properties -- insects including ants and termites will not come near it.

Kataragama Kæle Kendra ashram's old hut -- the shrine room. The middle room of the ashram main cottage, the darkest room in the interior which was used for meditation. Here a simple coconut oil lamp always remained burning continuously. Next to Patrick is Ratna Swami, a longtime Sinhala swami of Kataragama.

A scene inside the old cottage of the Kataragama Kaele Kendra ashram. Beside Patrick is Bandiya, who represents the Veddas at the Kataragama festival and who performs the ritual ambush of the procession with bow and arrow. The scene inside the hut is not always as subdued as in this photo, but the ambience is like this. Outside it may be very hot and bright in the daytime but inside it remains cool due to the ample ventilation from the thatched roof and eye-level vent holes seen in the photo.

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