Coming of Age: Sri Lanka Style
By: Nirukshi deLanerolle
Emerge Lanka Foundation Program Coordinator
Growing up, teenage girls need to stay indoors until she is ready to have her first bath on an auspicious day. (There is a custom to pay attention to astrological signs when it comes to these events). Growing up in Sri Lanka as a female means a variety of customs and rituals which must be observed. As a teenage girl in Sri Lanka (when you start your period), you… Need to be bathed by your amma (mother) Have the clothes you were wearing indoors thrown away before this bath. Cannot see your father or any male during this period of time. Are not allowed to eat any food that has been fried in oil, as it will effect your menses. On the day you have your first bath, there is a great celebration where all your relatives visit your house; this event is celebrated in an even grander state than a wedding. But, some girls, such as many girls of Emerge, don’t have their families around to help them attend to these customs or to throw parties. MKLTH, who just turned 11 and lives in the Panadura shelter, grew up without such a celebration. As this is her current home, and a loving one, the Emerge team and girls celebrated MKLTH’s special day recently in a small way. MKLTH was overwhelmed, as the event was planned by so many, in a shelter that at first, didn’t seem much like a home! However, with Emerge, she soon found she had a new family to help her celebrate in a maybe not so grand way, but one definitely with much more grandeur.