Seneka and I were riding in his car on Easter Sunday when we heard the news that suicide bombers had just attacked churches and hotels in Colombo and other parts of the country. While the attack may have mostly targeted Christians and Hotel guests, it also brought into question the fraught relationship between the nation’s Muslims and Buddhist majority. For days thereafter we wandered the country shell-shocked, disbelieving that Sri Lanka, which had barely enjoyed a decade of peace after 26 years of civil conflict, could have descended again into such horrific violence. It also brought to the fore the issue of Sri Lanka’s ethnic diversity and ethnic conflict.
This photo book presents portraits of different Sri Lankans from various cities, towns and villages that were taken the week before and the week following the Easter bombings. Looking at these images, there is little doubt that Sri Lankans appear to have originated from a great cross-section of monsoon Asian nations. Indeed, the understanding that Sri Lanka is a nation derived from many different places and cultures – a melting pot of Asia – is central to defining a national identity that cherishes diversity and tolerance.