Bejeweled Asian elephants are a beauty to behold
with their ornately decorated garments
as they bear religious artifacts along procession routes
accompanied by chanting Buddhist clergy
and dancers – some graceful, some artfully twirling fireballs.
People gather along the route to pay homage to ancient customs
and witness the pageantry and poetry in motion
or to indulge in the country’s folklore about elephants.
Buddhism and elephants are intertwined in the tapestry of Sri Lanka.
Elephants represent strength and a strong herd mentality.
Unfortunately sometimes elephants go amok
and wreak unimaginable havoc because they are unstoppable.
There was a stampede in July 1983
the likes of which were unprecedented.
The irreparable damage to the fabric of the culture
have changed the patterns of a once cohesive tapestry
because the rogue elephants were people
inflicting harm on people they knew
hurtling fireballs to kill and destroy property.