“F” is not for Friendship and Forgiveness

I was taught it was better to stand with your mouth shut than to pipe up with empty promises – even to oneself.  So, today being “F” day and it now being way too late in the day to begin exploring the very interesting subject of Friendship and Forgiveness which I had planned, I bring you instead:

Ficus Religiosa

They say that a large Indian fig tree gave shelter to the Buddha as he sat, deep in meditation, seeking the truth about suffering, at Bodh Gaya.  They also say that it is a sapling from that same tree that stands, here in Anuradhapura, propped up on spindly crutches, enshrined behind ornate golden railings at the centre of Sri Maha Bodhi, a living symbol of the ancient roots of Buddhism  in this country.

Propped up on spindly crutches


I don’t hold with taking photographs in temples (churches, synagogues, or mosques, for that matter – when people are engaged in acts of worship or devotion), so I haven’t taken a picture to show you the 2,259 year old Anuradhapura sapling.  Instead, here is a photograph of the Ficus Religiosa (as we now know it) in the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens, just outside Kandy.  I’m sorry there are no people walking about underneath, to give you an idea of its size – believe me, it was bigger than a house, a large house.

I said the Peradeniya Ficus was bigger than a house.  Last year when I went up to Kandy for the Perahera, I went to the Gardens, as always, and couldn’t believe what I saw as I came around the bend, down by the river.  Instead of acres of  inviting shade beneath the branches of our renowned Bodhi Tree, a wide expanse of freshly raked soil covered the entire expanse of the central lawn.  They said it had come down in the big storm last month.  All they had been able to save of that gigantic living organism was a sapling which had rooted itself at its far extremity.

Around here, if the seed of a sacred Bodhi tree germinates and grows on an unclaimed piece of land, you can bet it won’t be long before some pious person begins leaving offerings.  It’s not unknown for a statue to be brought in, an enclosure erected.   Before too long, it’s become a sacred site, and the absentee owners will have a hard time, if they return, evicting the bodhi temple that will have grown in the ruins of their abandoned family home.

Models for my Bodhi leaf earrings

You will have guessed this isn’t a scholarly piece about this weed of a tree, but an explanation of its sanctity.  So revered in fact that the pair of bodhi leaf earrings I had made many years ago became my “get out of jail free cards”.  I always wear them when I have dealings with the bureaucracy.  They are particularly effective in smoothing the way through security lines, customs and immigration …  People just can’t seem to avoid being distracted by the little golden bhodi leaves dangling from my ears!

Monday 23rd April, 11.55pm

31 thoughts on ““F” is not for Friendship and Forgiveness

    • Glad you liked my little anecdotes. The earrings did turn out well. I found a jeweller who understood how the bhodi leaf flutters in the breeze (hence the back and front views of the pressed leaves in my design sheet) and was able to turn them into proper earrings, with the stems turning into long loops through the ear, and as light as a leaf (so affordable!) and never hurt, no matter how long I wear them:)

  1. Maybe the sacred sites sprout up & officialdom leaves off hassling you because deep down there’s some innate hunger for sacred connection & recognition……….. Very cool earrings:)

    • That’s right. On top of which is official disorganisation, and the politics of cultural/religious bias (as most absentees are Tamils who fled 30 years of civil war). Yes, the earrings turned out beautifully.

    • Oops – just saw your note! They’re greedy plants, the more you give them, the more they’ll take – but they can survive in the most trying conditions, so don’t let it take over your house:)

  2. “I was taught it was better to stand with your mouth shut than to pipe up with empty promises – even to oneself.” These are sound words, Meredith.

    The tree is beautiful. In that first picture, because of the way it is shaped, I think, I’m reminded of a gigantic armadillo. Silly thought, I know, but that’s my brain for you.

    You mentioned it being too late to explore the interesting subject of friendship and forgiveness. I wonder . . . perhaps, one day, when it is not “so late” you might tell us your thoughts or the story I have a feeling belongs there. I don’t know your age, and I, as a lady, was taught it was rude to ask, but I do know that you have enough life-experience to put most of us to shame. Anyhow, there is wisdom in that life, and I for one, am a fan of wisdom. I am a fan of you.

    Have a blessed day, my friend.

    • Yes, Cara, Friendship and Forgiveness will surely get its turn. It’s a big subject, I think and I’m feeling a little pressed by my commitment to post something every day. Subjects like that need time to simmer away, time for my subconscious to do its unedited work. Now, enough of the compliments – we must guard against too much stroking of my ego (and also remember, I’m Australian; we tend to be a bit British in this regard and I’m now seriously uncomfortable, no matter how much the ego laps it up!)
      An armadillo, eh? Um, I can see that. I always think – thought, I should say (I still can’t imagine it being no longer), of it as a great green cloud, hovering just above the earth.
      My day has been lovely but is just about over, so bless you, and goodnight.

      • Ah, the pressure to post. There is a wondrous technique I have adopted for dealing with such matters. It’s called ignoring it. 😉

        I apologize, but should my accolades make you uncomfortable, you will just have to skim over them. Like much of what I write, I cannot take credit; the Muse within me says what she must say, and that’s just all there is about it!

        Goodnight, M’lady.

  3. Ok…I’m really late in the game here but what kind of series is the Alphabet series of posts? I believe a few other bloggers do it too. Is it similar to the weekly photo challenge? What a cool idea! I enjoyed this post! 🙂

    • I don’t know dear – I too had seen a few people do it – photographers, and writers, and since I had made this commitment to do a post a day, I thought it might be a good framework for story ideas. Glad you enjoyed it Nicole, thanks.

      • Wow, cool! So it is your idea!!!! Maybe others are copying you! 🙂 Gearing up for my big party tomorrow. I’m so excited!!!! We are making desserts for sale in “shot” sized glasses to represent Shot@Life and I’m hoping to raise a lot of money for the cause. Wish me luck!

        • No. I copied others – I just never saw where it came from, or what the rules were, if there were rules. I’m just using it as a framework for posting every day.

          Now, if there was a little something stronger in some of those shot glasses, I’m sure that would loosen some wallets!
          Where is the party being held? Are you organising it all alone, or do you have a committee or something to help? We expect pictures!

          • Love it! The party is being held at my house! yikes! My wonderful husband needs to take the kids out and we gals are going to have fun. I have had lots of help. I initially invited 120 people! Glad only 30 are coming. My house isn’t that big! And I’m not really a party person. There will be a post indeed!

            • I used to be the party queen, back in the days at Sydney Dance. there’s a difference to being at a party and being the hostess of an official party where your role is well defined. Your job is to make sure everyone has a drink, many drinks, enough drinks to loosen their grip on their wallets, fuel their generosity. Being a hostess makes you invincible – with a tray of shots in one hand and your conviction in the other, you’ll find it will be like no other party you’ve ever been to. Now just one thing: get on to those 30 people and harangue them into bringing a stranger. The more people you have crammed into the place, the more money you’ll make!

  4. Beautiful post as always and a beautiful tree! It is also called ‘Peepal’ here in India. Love your earrings and can imagine why it smooths things for you 🙂 The sprouting of mini shrines is every landlords nightmare here as well! Looking forward with great interest to the subject of friendships and forgiveness!

    • That’s for when I can read (other blogs), write (my own posts) and think (coherently) at the same time!
      I wondered about similarities between Sri Lanka and India with regard to the mighty Peepal. I’m glad you took the time to fill me in Madhu, ’cause I felt sure there was a cultural connection here.

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