The Spirit of Sri Lanka: A Peek Into the Weekly Fishing Tradition of Sri Lankan Locals by Sheri B Doyle
Along a sleepy white sandy beach in Sri Lanka, a group of local villagers gathered ready for work. One day earlier they had gathered to cast a wide net into the ocean in an attempt to catch enough fish to feed their families for a few days. Today they were there to pull the net in and reap the rewards of their hard work.
Men 20 to 80 years old each took their positions at the opposite ends and started pulling the net in slowly. Rhythmically, they pulled and moved along the shore, hoping for a big catch to feed everyone. For over an hour they worked, the net piling up on the beach. The man in charge of coordinating both sides stood in the middle of the group conducting their movements.
As the entire net came to the shore, it began to show its emptiness. The men realized their net had come up almost empty. Their shoulders began to slump and their exhaustion and disappointment overtook their earlier anticipation.
The beautiful rhythm of their movements had filled all of us with joy as we hoped along with them. We understood the importance to their families – without fish it was a struggle for them to eat all week. My heart broke as I stared at the empty net. But then, the spirit of the Sri Lankan emerged and instead of defeat they smiled, grateful for the men who stood beside them every week to try to catch food.
The men had seen many empty nets in their lives and always they had survived. What they couldn’t do without was each other. It was suddenly obvious to us that what they truly valued was each other, for none of them was able to catch anything without the others.
They smiled as I took their pictures, obviously blessed by the love they found in each other.
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