November 24, 2008

Today Maria and I went with my host family to a 21st birthday party. I know the connotations any American would make with a 21st birthday party which is what makes it so funny. Every year for my host mother's nephew  birthday they hold what she refers to as 'little monk danne.' There is most likely an official name for this but I have no idea what it is.

We went to what looked like a boarding school but it was for monks between the ages of 8 and 16. When we arrived all of the guest were seated on mats in front of a Buddha shrine and to the right of the shrine sat this monk that couldn't have been over 14. He was belting his heart out and all the adults had their heads bowed in respect. Maria and I stood awkwardly in the back, because we can't really sit still like the Sri Lankan women, or at least I can't, and I can never get my hands in proper prayer position.

After the prayer the room filled with over 100 child monks. They were silent and respectful; which was flat out shocking as there weren't any grown up monks around to keep them in line. They all had their little alms bowls and cups in front of them and all of the guests gathered up the food and had to serve them. Maria and I were given the task of handing out small fried vegetable things, most likely because Sri Lankans are very generous with the rice and curry so they probably figured Maria and I might starve the monks if we didn't pile their bowls sufficiently.

Shortly after eating all the monks shuffled out and then all of the guest ate. This may have been the funniest part of the day owing to the fact that my host mother is still under the impression I hate rice. I don't hate rice but I really don't mind not eating it, so she packed a bun and a cupcake for me to eat. I was happy, but I got some pretty weird looks

Little boy monk

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