‘Walkshops’ and ‘Talkshops’ on Sri Lanka’s Holy Mountain

Sri Pada
Sri Pada. Photo credit to the author.

By Ian McIntosh

Back in the 1980s, in the midst of Sri Lanka’s civil war, an initiative by the NGO Save the Children Norway, sought to promote ethnic and religious harmony through what they called ‘walkshops’ and ‘talkshops’ on the holy mountain, Adam’s Peak.

Up until the 1960s, Adam’s Peak – also known as Sri Pada (the sacred footprint) – was the greatest interfaith pilgrimage site on earth, attracting Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, Christians and others in vast numbers. Prior to the civil war, members of these faith groups would climb together and worship by the imprint in the rock that they recognize as the mark of Buddha, Shiva, Adam (after he was expelled from paradise), and the apostle to the world, St Thomas. The indigenous god of the mountain, Saman, was also venerated. Except for perhaps Jerusalem, there is no other site with such widespread religious significance.

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