A place where races, religions, cast and creed meet to seek favour and blessings at a colourful festival, Kataragama, is a shrine devoted to an ever youthful god known as Skanda – the sole deity common to Vedda, Sinhala and Tamil believers. This ancient shrine complex includes a Hindu kovil, a Buddhist temple and an Islamic mosque; and today, Sri Lankans of all communities are drawn here to seek favour from its unquestioned power of generosity. Observing beliefs and practices dating from remote antiquity, the faithful partake in impossible rituals – some, of painful penance and self mortification; and others easier on the eye such as Kawadi dancers. All create a throbbing atmosphere and an awe inspiring spectacle that can leave an impression even on the hardened non-believer.

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