In Central Sri Lanka, sits a mountain where butterflies go to die.

Immersed in myth, this rock of ages is more telling of our foundation than any history book. Sri Pada or Adam’s Peak is one of many such spaces, scattered across Sri Lanka. Places that are a symbolic coming together of our diverse island nation. Many gods live here; many faiths and many walks of life that we journey together.

I would encounter this interfaith togetherness throughout my life, beginning with childhood visits to St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, lighting little yellow candles, with my grandmother to one side and a motley crew of devotees to the other. Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims are seen in prayer here alongside Christians, making vows to a Roman Catholic saint, known to grant miracles where they are most needed.

It is then, that much more significant to note that the shrine was the first in a chain of explosions that rocked Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, putting us back in the headlines around the world – for the very thing we eradicated a decade ago. To many it feels like the cycle is repeating after a decade-long pause.

Did we forget too soon? Or are we a resilient nation, rising again as we continue to embrace harmony and inclusion as the real source of our strength? Sri Lankans are not people who dwell on dark times. Instead, we’re a passionate bunch, always reaching for the light and light-heartedness within us.

Our people are also made up of fiery spirits, heated dispositions and hot-blooded temperaments. We drink a little too much, talk too much politics and do a lot of things in fierce excess. We are also fiercely together, despite what the actions of a few may indicate.

We should not be surprised then, that many envy our togetherness and seek to bring us down. Sri Lanka deals with grief upon grief, tragedy after tragedy and yet, we have always overcome. We are impassioned by our grief yet again, so let us use it as an opportunity to passionately draw even closer to one another.

Despite the obvious fear, churches, mosques and temples have opened their doors to one another. Christians, Buddhists and Muslims have fiercely stood guard over religious services. We have stood hand-in-hand, circling our houses of prayer. It is this collective identity that makes us truly who we are.

What does it really mean to have a multidimensional identity? Permit me to recount all the cultures we borrow from to make us one Sri Lanka:

From the Burghers come our ability to pack up our troubles and let them go. Let us lean to this resilience today when we need it the most.

From the Muslims we learn brotherhood. From them, we know what it is to come together and stay that way.

Our Tamil culture blesses us with patience and pantheons; this is how we know,for our many-faced island, that a change is gonna come.

From Sinhalese culture comes the most valuable inheritance: the power to be born again. This is how we have risen, time and again from the tragedies thrown our way.

Let us lean to this collective identity in the coming days as we rise again. For we are many and yet, we are one.

A Column by Natalie Soysa – 07/05/2019