Chandra Jayasinghe (Read in Sinhala here>>)
On November 23, 1993, Anura Thanthilage – the producer, Nisitha Warnasuriya – the cameraman, Asoka Bulathsinhala – the lighting technician, Anurasiri – the engineering assistant and I, a trainee recording technician commenced the journey on WFR van driven by Galagedara to produce a special documentary on behalf of national television Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. It was on visiting Sripada mountain off season. Our mission was to report information and facts in concern to Sripada area out of season on contrary to the season in which hundred thousands of pilgrims worship Siripa. (Article continued after the ad)
We reached Palabaddala temple via Gilimale, Ratnapura and spent first night in the preaching hall of the temple. There, we arranged polythene covers to protect our recording equipment from rain.
We started to climb Sri Pada Mountain after religious offerings at Palabaddala Temple. Four more villagers joined our team to assist us for cooking and carrying our luggage. the climb was slow. We were filming everything.
The next night was at Lihinihela Ambalama . The cook and the helpers prepared us a hot dinner added with lot of spices such as chilies in order to keep us warm in the chilly weather. That was my first night out after I joined the national television which I spent in such a freezing cold. The cold was so unbearable that all of us shivered out the night. We wanted to put up a fire but the helpers opposed due to imminent threat from the tigers.
We proceeded ahead slowly through the slippery footpaths overcoming the difficulties. While shooting, we were soaked in the torrential showers. We spent that night at Heramitipana Ambalama.
On 26th, we proceeded from Heramitipana to Siripa Maluwa (compound). The steps on the path towards Mahagiridamba were unstable. We climbed Mahagiribamda amidst heavy showers and howling winds, trying hard to get as much footage we could capture.
Keeping our instrument protective in the cellophane bags, we entered into Siripa Maluwa at dusk soaked to the bones in rain water and shivering like fish out of water. All of us fell asleep lying huddled on a mat in a small hut at the Maluwa.
Early in the morning on 27th, the off season pilgrims worshiped Siripa after cleaning the compound. Dolosmahe pahana, the lamp supposed to be lit through out all 12 months was lit. Smoke of incense sticks was blown away fast in the winds. We rang the bells on top of the hill.
Thus, a team of Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation was able to film the first television programme off the season on the Sripada mountain.
Also, it was the first time I climbed the Sripada Mountain. As an amateur, I was supposed to wear white clothes, to bathe in the icy cold waters of the River Seetha Gangula and to do stitching at Getthampana. However, I did not have time to do any of them. From that day onward I have climbed the mountain a number of times. The majority of such instances were for producing television programmes for Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation.
I am an official pilgrim of Sripada.
(Translated by Rajendra Wijesinghe)