Kenji's CAS Journey

"Experiences to be cherished, moments to be proud of."

🇱🇰 Jaffna Resonances 🎶

Feature image taken by Thalal Fazal.

The Jaffna Resonances trip is no doubt one of the most underrated trips in the Week Without Walls program as it was a brand new take on the traditional trip to Jaffna. Normally, students would go to Jaffna to visit the temples and see cultural sites and also take part in the service aspects in the SOS villages. However, this year had a change of focus; we now had a central musical aspect of the trip which was integrated along with the rest of the cultural and historical aspects that we would be exploring already. This took place solely on the third day of the trip with everything else being about exploring the historical heritage sites such as the old Dutch forts or visiting religious temples of Hindus and Buddhists.

Day 1:

Most of the day was taken up by the 6-7 hour train ride from Colombo Fort Railway Station to the Jaffna Railway Station. Even this ride ended up being quite eventful as we chatted for hours along the way, shared snacks, napped, and explored the cars to find the snack shop. Despite it taking up half the day, the ride was very comfortable as we all had first-class seats and the cars were all air conditioned. Once in Jaffna, we immediately headed to the Thinnai hotel which we all came to love with its superb accommodation standards considering that we were on a school trip. Many of the joyous events that became a highlight of the trip occurred during the long leisure hours at the wonderful hotel featuring two floors, two bathrooms, two bedrooms, and a spacious living room. Soon after we settled down, we left by bus for our first excursion to the Dutch fort where we walked around and looked at the wonderful view by the sea and learnt about the cultural and historical significance of the ruins. Then, we went to the Rio ice cream shop which sold wonderful ice cream which refreshed our spirits even more. Then we proceeded to the Hindu-faith Nallur temple to witness the religious ceremonies being held by Hindu monks, something we usually don’t have exposure to and can’t witness. When we returned to the hotel, we were free to do whatever we wished. We also ate a splendid buffet dinner and slept at ease with the comfortable beds that were provided. These were truly moments to be relished.

Image taken by Thalal Fazal.

Day 2:

The second day was filled with more adventures such as the visit by boat ride to the Nagadeepa buddhist temple. There, we learned of the cultural significance of the small island that we were on, having hosted a visit by the Buddha in the ancient times to solve a dispute between two kings. We then left by ferry and travelled by bus to a restaurant for lunch. This restaurant was situated on the mainland with a tiny island off its shore called Fort Hammenheil due to the Dutch fort that was built there in during Ceylon’s occupation. We visited the fort itself to look at the old architecture and buildings and we saw the old prison cell buildings once used to house prisoners and also used as an insane asylum. Now it has been turned into a modest looking hotel with better rooms where the officers had once been in the old ages. The view was spectacular from the parapets as we were surrounded by sea and views on the mainland on all areas. We then ate lunch at the restaurant and left. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped to observe the bottomless well which was known to be about 40 meters deep and filled with water. When we got back to the hotel, all of us were content about the day and eager to get some rest for the following morning.

Image taken by Thalal Fazal.

Day 3:

The third day was the major day for performance! We got up bright and early to get a hearty breakfast and we headed off to the local school for our first performance. After a lengthy introduction and a wonderful performance by the hosting school with their traditional dances, music, and drama, we began our part of the concert. For the most part the concert went smoothly but midway through we were abruptly interrupted by a power outage which led to a halt in the concert for a relatively long period of time. Once back on, we continued until the end. They were kind enough to even present us with gifts of wooden carvings engraved with our event which we proudly carried back home. The lunching experience was just as superb as we headed to the Malayan cafe to have some authentic Jaffna food. All of it was vegetarian and though I normally don’t eat as a vegetarian, I was able to enjoy every last bit of the food that I got! Afterwards, we went to the music college to perform for the last time. Though I was slightly more nervous this time, thankfully our group was able to find some lighthearted fun while we were waiting so that definitely eased my worries away. This time the concert went much more smoothly and I was able to perform much better than before. The traditional classical performance was a quartet of singers accompanied by a tabla and an Indian-style violin. As a DP Music student, it was incredibly interesting to watch this style of performance firsthand.

Image taken by Thalal Fazal.

Day 4:

Although we have had such a great time in Jaffna, it was time to move on to more adventures. We travelled all the way down to Anuradhapura in the morning to see some spectacular cultural sites. The highlight of this day was the visit to the Anuradhapura sacred city which was the area in which the famous Sri Maha Bodhi Viharaya and Ruwan Weli Seya temples are located. These behemoth of a stupa was an incredible sight standing 54 meters tall and originally being built in the ancient times. We saw various Buddhist rituals with people clad in white walking around the stupa, indicating how involved the local community was with their culture and religion. We returned to the hotel with new insights of to ponder upon of the incredibly rich heritage this country has to offer.

Day 5:

All good things must eventually come to an end, and so does this week without walls trip. From Anuradhapura we travelled by bus all the way back to School in Colombo. We did stop by at a pizza hut to get some lunch which was a nice chill time. When we got back to school, we gathered everyone together to take the iconic week without walls group photo on the field. And we called it a wrap.

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