In Sri Lanka, today is a special day: every April 14th is a collective celebration for locals of different religions. It is a day to honour life, together with the family, following local traditions of Puthandu, Aluth Avurudda, Baisaki, Vishu or Bihu, just some of the many ways that are used across cultures to define this festivity.
Puthandu (Tamil: தமிழ்ப்புத்தாண்டு) the Tamil New Year, is the first day of year on the Tamil calendar. Tamil people greet each other by saying "Iniya Puthāaṇdu vāazhthugal!" (இனிய புத்தாண்டு வாழ்த்துக்கள்), that means “Happy New Year!”. Families usually clean up the house, cook delicious specialties and wear new clothes.
Aluth Avurudda (Sinhala: අලුත් අවුරුද්ද) is also a traditional festivity of New Year, for Sinhalese people. It begins with the new moon between April 13th and 14th. This day marks the end of the harvest season and of spring. It is believed that together with the renovation of the year, a renovation of thoughts takes place.
These traditions date back to ancient times, where rituals and ceremonies connected humans to the rhythm of Nature. These rituals were shared between a wide range of cultures in South and South-East Asia, on this meaningful date of April 14th: this fact is considered by many to be an influence of the ancient shared culture in this area, in the 1st millennium CE. The advent of major religions in the different countries led to a re-interpretation of these rituals in a new light, giving birth to national New Year celebrations. In Sri Lanka, both Buddhism and Hinduism influenced local ceremonies and traditions, in a mix of Indigenous, Astrological, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions.
Today, across the island, people prepare trays with fruits, flowers and auspicious items, lighting up the family puja altar, meditating and visit their local temple. Kids seek blessings from their elders, later sitting down with the family for a huge and delicious vegetarian meal. Following the Tamil tradition, entrances of Tamil’s houses are decorated with colored Kolam or Muggu, a form of traditional decorative art drawn by using rice flour, stone powder or chalk.
In anthropology, the importance of yearly renovation is observed across pretty much all cultures in the world.
Nature teaches us that each year, each month and each day we have the chance to let go of our past burdens and take inspiration from the natural world, to rise stronger and fresher. Let’s celebrate together with Sri Lanka locals, renewing our thoughts and lighting up our spirits, while we wait for Shankra Festival Sri Lanka 2022.
What does “Anthropocene” mean? To what extent humans impact the planet? Can we improve the way we relate to the environment around us? During this conference, Gaia Vince will answer these questions and present her insights on this relevant topic, consequently leading a collaborative discussion.
This event asks the audience to consider the new human-dominated planet we are creating, as our species alters global temperatures, the world’s biodiversity and fundamentally changes Earth. We are entering the Anthropocene: the age of humans. No part of this planet is untouched by us, we’re even littering Space. We have made the world a better and safer place in many ways – more people now live longer, healthier lives. But we now risk these successes as we move into the hostile environment we have made. How can we make a Good Anthropocene, and what would that look like?
Audience requirements: bring a curious mind!
Gaia Vince is a science writer and broadcaster exploring the interplay between human systems and the planetary environment. She is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at UCL. Gaia has travelled the world extensively to research this unique time in Earth’s history, in which increasing human activities are changing the planet – and us – as never before. Her first book, Adventures In The Anthropocene documents these changes, how they’re affecting communities from the global south to the rich world, and what we’re all doing about it. In 2015, it won the Royal Society Science Book of the Year Prize (the first female winner of the prize). Gaia's latest book, Transcendence, shortlisted for the 2020 Royal Society Book Prize, explores how we got here: how a smart ape became a planet-dominating force. It rewrites the story of our ‘ascent’, describing the co-evolution of our biology, environment and our culture. It’s the story of how we made ourselves and where we are headed.
Goa Gil joined us at Shankra Festival in the magical valley of Lostallo in 2019. His 24hours set reunited many dancing souls in the தாமரை (Lotus) dancefloor, where psychedelic sounds were combined with musical rituals and human beings from all over the world gathered to join him and listen to his music, using hi-tech, on tape, dark psy and the most peculiar and enriching sounds in psytrance music!
Goa Gil’s special message to the Shankra Family is out now!
He will join us at Shankra Festival 2022, in the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, to Dance and Trance endlessly throughout the night till the morning is up on our new and vibrant dancefloor كَائِن (being)!
"If you can not be a king, become a healer."
Ancient traditions in Sri Lanka are vividly present in the daily life of its inhabitants, that still follow holistic practices of Ayurveda and other ancient traditional medicinal systems. At Shankra Festival, be ready to experience our wide program of local healing treatments including ancient therapies, home remedies, natural healing practices and body massages that cleanse and revitalize your body!
Sri Lanka, popularly known as Pearl of the Indian Ocean, excels in breathtaking white shores, crystalline waters and sizzling blue skies, but beautiful beaches are not its only attraction. The island’s abundance of precious medicinal herbs and ancient traditions in natural healing and wellness has guided its antique medical understanding ahead, making the peninsula a pillar of natural medicine and valuable knowledge.
Four different system of traditional medicine have been adopted in Sri Lanka: Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Deshiya Chikitsa. Ayurveda and Deshiya Chikitsa systems make use of plants and herbal preparations for the treatment of diseases, the former including about 2000 species, the latter about 500.
The traditional system of medicine has been practiced in Sri Lanka for more than 3000 years. Recorded history brings us back to the 4th century before the Christian Era, in a time where hospital with in and out-patients facilities had been constructed in the then capital city of Anuradhapura. Today, one can find archaeological remains of medicine boats, turned out of stone and employed for medicinal oil baths.
The traditional system of medicine is legally recognized in Sri Lanka, with its own medical council and registered medical practitioners, pharmacists and nurses. Organized teachings and trainings of traditional medicine in Sri Lanka are given the same importance as modern medicine.
In Ayurveda, every part of the same plant, such as tender leaves, flowers, bark roots or fruits are used to create a specific drug to treat ailments. Certain drugs, such as Cannabis, are included in the treatment, used in particular combinations and ratios. Other plants are popularly used as a preventive measure: for example, if grown in the garden, they can prevent certain kinds of poisonous reptiles to enter that space.
Considering that the total surface of Sri Lanka is about 65'000 km2, so a bit bigger than Switzerland, we could say that distances are not really vasts and getting around the island is cheap and easy.
First of all, get ready to experience local transports, as domestic flights are limited and expensive in this country, formerly known as Serendib or Ceylon. Public transports available are train and buses, which are cheap but most of the time crowded. Other ways to explore the country are on a bike, a rental car, even a three-wheeler…let’s discover some practical information about them!
When you think of Sri Lanka, one of the most typical images that comes to mind is a train, traveling through a jungle-like landscape. Trains are the most comfortable way to cross the country via public transport, compared to buses: they are actually slow, but the journey is more relaxed and you can find many information in English. The national railways are run by Sri Lankan Railways.
There is nothing more colorful, messy, loud and typical than a bus ride in Sri Lanka. You can find snacks and gifts, locals and tourists, all packed in a small bus. Bus routes cover about 80% of the nation’s 90’000km of roads. There are both public buses or buses from private companies which offer, at a higher price, a deluxe service. Don’t forget to buy a ticket for your bag, as usually luggage space is limited or nonexistent.
The best way to explore both historical sites and the less crowded roads of the Northern and Eastern part of the country, is to rent a bike. Enjoy the breeze and get lost in the natural landscape! You can rent a bike even in hotels and guesthouses all around the country.
Illegal Dwelling. An Ethnography of Living on the Fringe in the Western World.
The first place that comes in mind when we think about our identity is usually our home.
Humans have built, destroyed, moved and embellished personal dwellings for thousands of years. However, the relationship between social and cultural identity and our residences has radically changed overtime.
When have we stopped building our houses ourselves?
With this question, the anthropologist and researcher Andrea Staid will introduce the conference “Illegal Dwelling. An ethnography of living on the fringe in the Western World” at Shankra Festival in Sri Lanka 2022.
“Much is known about the informal, illegal, marginal housing conditions in the non-Western world, but what happens in Western societies? Do we/they all live in owned or rented flats as a one-person family? This anthropological and ethnographic conference analyses the types of informality of dwelling in the so-called first world - a world that is far away from the monolithic one we are used to think of”
In the conference, Andrea Staid shows the most varied housing experiences, from squats to tree houses, from Rom and Sinti camps to self-built houses and pueblos ocupados, eco-villages and urban slums, communes, co-housing and Wagenplatz, wanderers and tramps: spontaneous workshops that create- more or less consciously- new models of relation.
Andrea Staid is an anthropologist, activist and editor. He teaches at NABA, an internationally renowned art and design academy in Milan, researcher at the university of granada. Among the various books published, wrote The Damned of the Metropolis (10 reprints), Our Arms (2 reprints) and The people’s Arditi. The author of many other essays, his books have been translated in Greece, Spain and Germany.