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Syndic Literary Journal

Photography: “The Perahara” by Ernest Lowe



The Perahara

by Ernest Lowe

 I come to the lions first

dancing on the road by the lake

their manes of coir from coconut husks.

Then a band of waiting Hanumans

monkey masks on top of their heads

and beginning to dance to the drums.

The monk’s voice comes across the lake

on a shrill P.A.



I walk for blocks

beside the waiting procession

until I reach the first

of the hundred elephants

each masked with glittering fabric

and beginning to move forward

between the clubs of dancers

from all over the island —

the brigade of dark-clad men

with three legs,

looking like somber missionaries

the stilt dancers

the flock of peacocks

all dancing and whirling

to the drummers’ beat.

I am buoyant, joyous

dancing around the elephants

refusing to stand and watch.

By the open temple over the lake

glowing strings of light

somehow link this procession

these hundred elephants

these dancers and drummers

into the Sangha

Buddah’s community

dancing the Dharma

Buddah’s wheel of the law.


How else can one really dance?

February 16, 2002

Colombo, Sri Lanka

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