Buddha statue at Embekka Devale (not sure if it’s the same one) by igz.
Three French tourists just got a suspended sentence for taking mocking photographs with a Buddha statue at Embekka Devale. They took their photos to be printed in Galle and the studio handed them in to the police. I’m not sure what exactly they were charged under, but they received a suspended sentence and their passports and cameras were returned.
As the UK issues a travel warning and Sri Lanka generally embarrasses itself, one might file this in that category. I mean, what were the tourists doing that was so bad? But I don’t think so. What they were doing was bad. I’ve gone to many places of worship and I’m always scrupulous about following whatever rules I’m supposed to follow. One unwritten rule is don’t mock the place or act the fool. Which is what these tourists were doing, and they got off with a scare and a Rs. 1,500 fine.
As a Buddhist do I personally venerate statues or symbols? Not really, but I don’t disrespect them either. I must admit that one time, when I first returned to Sri Lanka, I made a bit of a faux pas. I was at a temple in Kandy for a few days of meditation, by myself, not with a group. On poya some locals came over and were worshiping. I had been meditating in the room so I just got up and hung out. A few girls came by with trays of flowers. Being fresh off the boat, I took one of each. After a while I was like, ‘how can I hold all these flowers’. It turns out I was just supposed to put my hands out and bless the flowers, not take them. I’ve also tried to drink the ceremonial glasses of water at rural weddings. Anyways.
There’s levels of cultural misunderstanding which can be understood, but kissing and posing with a Buddha statue in a temple is ungood. At Buddha Bar, whatever I guess, it’s not here, but there are certain standards. My only issue is that I’m not sure where or how this falls under Sri Lankan law. Except, being an ostensibly Buddhist state, I suppose it does. I personally think a stern talking to would do, but in this case I don’t think the punishment is entirely out of line with the crime.