What a couple of months June and July have been – what frenetic activity, glorious free-for-alls, what glamorous, bewitching enchanting events and then followed quickly by sobering and much needed kicks-up-the-bum to help us see the godliness and sanctity in all people. A roller coaster of emotions and discoveries….

June saw us hitting the ground running when I arrived in Olcote with Ali and my friend Joanna on the 18th. Chandi – the beautiful Mrs. Sri Lanka International was holding her press conference on the 22nd and there was so much to do in so little time. We did it though – and we didn’t just peep around the door – we flung it open wide! Sri Lanka – meet Olcote your newest luxury villa boutique hotel which has just burst on the scene!!

Latest update in the Mrs. International Extravaganza– gorgeous beautiful Chandi with her elegance and grace has just made the top 16 and emerged 10th overall. We at Olcote, who have affectionately adopted her as our own, couldn’t be more proud! Our congratulations Chandi and much love…

Manoj and I decided against a party for the villagers – instead we invited the monk from the temple in Jambureliya to give an hour of Bana and then a Pirith ceremony followed by a Dhana. Bana in Buddhism is a form of preaching and religious instruction important to the followers of Buddha. Pirith is the Sinhalese term for the Pali word Parittham, which literally signifies “protection”. When we speak of going to hear Pirith, it means to listen to the chanting by priests of the nine Suttas, or discourses, entitled Mangala, Rathana, Mettha, Khanda, Mora, Dhajagga, Bhojjanga, Angulimala and Atanatiya. It is hauntingly beautiful – rather like the Irish ballads that seem to touch our souls!!

Dhana is the practice of giving. It is believed that the act of giving or charity is a fundemental virtue.It is presented in Buddhist teachings as an antidote for all three root causes of evil – greed, hatred and delusion or ignorance.

Buddha said “To realise that life ends in death is to escape from the control of death”

Throughout his or her life, the Buddhist learns that life is impermanent. From one moment to the next, each person is continually dying. When death finally arrives, the only possible attitude that a person can adopt is that of total acceptance.

Thus when a person dies, in Buddhist culture the relatives of the dead try to speed the the progress of the soul towards Nirvana, or heaven by making acts of ‘dana’ or almsgiving to the monks who are involved in rituals of death.

Remember, Nandawathie, who was the first owner of Olcote and her sister Kamalawathie, who lived just behind the house died without marrying or having children. Their father Podi Singho must have died of a broken heart having lost both of his children so young. Manoj and I decided as I was the owner of Olcote now, we would give them a ‘dana’ to release their souls towards Nirvana, since there have been no close relative to observe this very important ritual for them. It has been the most profoundly touching and crucial thing I have ever done… I know Manoj feels the same.

We had a dinner after the ceremony for the villagers who attended with dignity and grace! So Mrs Pinto, Indhiappa Prema, Sama and all the other beautiful souls in Jambureliya – our heartfelt thanks for this wonderful experience!

I am back in Ireland and with no time to lose, we turn our thoughts towards our launch here in Dublin in August. Manoj and his family will be here on the 16th – again, so much to do and so little time to do it all. . .