Take time and think a moment!
The event 'Sri Páde 2017' was a Sri Pada Visit and a Cleanup Project organised by the YBA (Young Biologists' Association) and the Leo Club of Colombo Knights for the 5th consecutive year on 18th and 19th of March, 2017. Forestry and Environmental Science Society, Mora Hiking Club and Nature team – UoM were the supportive teams for the programme. A group of 135 representing different organisations universities, clubs joined event.
Organising Committee decided to enter the sacred Sri Pada through Ratnapura - Palabaddala route and to descend via the Hatton - Nallathanniya route on the day following. Ratnapura - Palabaddala route is considered the most historic route and the longest compared to the alternative trail.
After taking the lunch we started climbing the sacred Sri Pada. It was partly a field visit to explore biodiversity and the route was unarguably an excellent choice for nature lovers. Sri Pada is one of the prime biodiversity hot-spots in the country with the highest number of endemics such as insects, birds, amphibians and reptiles. Also it commands a striking position in Sri Lanka's rich physical geography, morphology, culture and one of the best documented mountains in South Asia. Due to the unique biodiversity the sacred Sri Pada was declared a UNESCOWorld Heritage site in 2010.
After worshipping the Sacred Sri Pada on the early morning our intention was to watch the sun rise (ඉරසේවය). The sun rose at 6.11 a.m.on 19th March 2017. So we waited to see the beauty of rising sun. The way it rose in between two mountains was really amazing. Travelling always gives a chance to see and feel the hidden beauty of nature. Then the Buddhist sermons started and carried on.
After some initial preparations we started the descend attending to the Cleanup Project, the prime objective of the visit. On the way down, non-biodegradable waste such as polythene and plastic were collected. It was shocking and a reason to be ashamed as a Buddhist as well as a Sri Lankan, the amount of garbage, litter and foreign objects just lying around the trails.
The alarming rate at which garbage is discarded by the pilgrims is a huge problem and an indicator of a tremendous disaster to occur in the near future. Peak Wilderness Sanctuary is a unique ecosystem in many ways. The harmful litter will affect the flora and fauna directly. Animals will die eating polythene. Soil will be destabilised. Natural water sources will be polluted. And as an utmost consequence the sensitivity of this eco system will be destroyed.
If all pilgrims visiting Sri Pada bring back the non-biodegradable waste they carry, we won't need this type of cleanup projects. Though we collect all garbage, there would be heaps lying around gather sine the event. The solution is in the hands of each individual.
Awareness is the key to tackle the problem and the pilgrims should be responsible to save the sacred heritage. Take time and think a moment! It's your responsibility to protect these type of World Heritages to our next generations. If you can't control yourselves not to harm the environment, its better you stay to your home and refrain from visiting the sacred place. Because we as a Nation must value our heirloom, which our ancestors protected with their sweat and blood.
Our cleaning project was successfully ended, with an unforgettable group of friends and lifetime memories to the sacred place which increased my curiosity of visiting it again.
"What is the difference between the sayings ‘I like you!’ and ‘I love you!’?" It was beautifully elaborated by Lord Buddha "When you like a flower, you just pick it. But when you love a flower, you water it daily!" Keep it in your mind in every dealings with the environment, Love it; Save it; because it is precious.