Dharmapala Ralahami, a volunteer with the Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka, holds a “wanda,” or praying mantis, that he found while working with a group to remove invasive plants from threatened rainforest near the Melawatte temple in Sri Lanka’s Rakwana mountain range. In the Sinhala language, wanda means “one who worships.”
During the Kandy Esala Perahera festival on Aug. 7, a dancer performed a traditional routine that involved balancing a spinning hand drum, or Ath Raban, on his finger. This 10-day festival in Kandy, in central Sri Lanka, celebrates the city’s Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha, and features a procession of dressed-up elephants, acrobats and musicians, along with a variety of local and cultural dances.
Lal Perera, 60, a toddy tapper, walks between coconut trees, from which he extracts the sap of the coconut flowers for a beverage called toddy. He works in Wadduwa, a town in Sri Lanka’s Kalutara district. Perera, who has been toddy tapping for 30 years, says he taps around 80 trees every day, except during heavy rains. Learn more about toddy tapping here.
A lagoon fisherman sorts his prawn catch by size before placing his haul for auction at the Gurunagar fish market in Jaffna, a city at the northern edge of Sri Lanka. Fishermen can auction large quantities of their seafood at this market, and they group the bigger specimens to sell at a higher price.
Balinese Hindus and tourists perform Melukat, a holy water ritual, in the holy springs of Tirta Empul, a temple and national cultural heritage site in the village of Manukaya on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Performing Melukat symbolizes eliminating negative energies and influences that may affect a person’s mental and physical state.
Children with special needs from 12 schools in the Gampaha education zone play a traditional game at the Kanthi Ground playground in Weliweriya, a town in Sri Lanka. Team members are pulled to the finish line on sheaths made from the leaves of the areca palm tree. Traditional games were part of a festival celebrating the Sinhalese Hindu New Year, which began on April 14.
A train traveling to Badulla, a city in the lower central hills of Sri Lanka, crosses the Nine Arches Bridge. The bridge, which is 30 meters (100 feet) tall, was constructed in 1920 and is made without steel and entirely of rock, stones and cement.
This house was dislodged during a landslide on April 14, following the collapse of the Meethotamulla garbage dump in Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. As of April 27, the Disaster Management Center in Sri Lanka reported 32 deaths and eight people missing after the nearly 300-foot-high trash pile fell onto surrounding homes. The streets flooded when garbage clogged the drainage systems.
D.I. Indika Priyadarshana, 32, has filled a clay pot with water to inspect it for leaks at his roadside pottery stand in Attidiya, a suburb of Colombo, the economic and commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Priyadarshana set up his stall several days before the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year on April 14 for customers who followed the holiday tradition of boiling coconut milk in a new clay pot.
Geetha Samanmali, 32, pours Belimal tea from a large pot in Maligawila, a village in southwestern Sri Lanka. Samanmali, pictured in late December, serves the tea in a Buddhist pilgrimage area also known for a large statue of the Buddha. Belimal tea, which is made from the flowers and young buds of the Beli fruit, is sold at most cultural sites, markets and tea shops in Sri Lanka.
Members of the Free Media Movement, a collective of journalists and media professionals, participate in a silent candlelit vigil on Jan. 24 in memory of journalists killed or missing in Sri Lanka. This yearly vigil at Independence Square, in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, was held on the day on which Prageeth Eknaligoda, a cartoonist and political writer, was reported missing in 2010.
Farmers in Heel-Oya, a village in Sri Lanka’s Kandy District, guide cattle to trample rice stalks in a traditional rice-threshing process. The cattle separates the grain from the stalks. Much of Sri Lanka’s rice, a staple food, is now farmed by machines, but this traditional method is still used in some rare cases.
The prison cells shown here house prisoners who are on death row. All male death row prisoners at Welikada Prison live in a building called the “Chapel,” which also contains the gallows used when death sentences are carried out.
Nearly half a million people were displaced in Sri Lanka in this week as flooding and landslides due to a storm that became Tropical Cyclone Roanu, which ripped through Asia’s Bay of Bengal. Rescue efforts were uncoordinated and included many private boats, operated by people who sought to help the many families in need of rescue or supplies. Despite the floodwaters, some families remained in the upper levels of their home to guard against looters.