21 April 2008

Letter 1.15

Yes, the moon grows for 10 days. It waxes (and wanes) in 14 day periods - a full cycle is 28.5 days. In Ceylon rest-days (called poya days) are based on the moon - each full and new moon and the intervening quarter moons are as Sunday in the West. Pre-poya day ('Saturday') is a half day. Thus poya days are usually 7 days apart, but sometimes 8 (since the moon takes an extra half day per revolution). Since on full and new moons there are special observances, I always know the date in relation to the moon, but since I have no contact with the outside world (no newspapers, etc., or other distractions) I am not sure of the date. It's early April, I believe. I've left the Hermitage once since arriving. That was several evenings ago. There is a temple in the village and an old monk died, so we went to pay our respects. The cremation is in a few days and I'm curious how it will differ (not in effect) from what I witnessed at the burning ghats of Banares. (He was 80 - some years old - monks seem to have long life-spans.)

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