Sri Lanka is home to some of the most enigmatic beliefs and customs known to man. From the widespread belief in supernatural spirits that possess and demand sacrifices to the ill effects of death pollution that cling on to the living like a contagious disease, local lore knows of many strange and outlandish phenomena that survive in the hearts and minds of a good many of its people to this day.
Other even stranger beliefs that did not survive the times but are preserved in bits and pieces in hoary old records include the belief in a mysterious being supposed to dwell on Adam’s Peak, the idea that a man who had seen the new moon was invested with special powers that made him desirable to members of the opposite sex and the polluting power of a woman in menses.
The island is also home to some rather bizarre customs such as veneration of deadly cobras, virginity testing and desire to meet the cravings of a pregnant woman come what may, not to mention even more weird traditions now lost to us such as blood sacrifices, wearing genital ornaments and unusual headdresses, entertaining guests with one’s female family members being sent to their chambers to spend the night, a woman’s having up to as many as seven husbands to do as she pleased and giving birth in dark rooms.
All this and more is dealt by the author who takes his readers on a most fascinating journey not only to understand but also to unravel the mysterious origins of these many customs and beliefs.
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