Monks and milk mothers
Talk and video screening by Dr Rita Langer
Senior Lecturer in Buddhist Studies, Department of Religion and Theology, University of Bristol
The milk mothers (kiri-ammas) are associated with Pattini, the only female deity in the Sinhala pantheon, and are often invited in fulfilment of a vow. Everyone of my informants in Sri Lanka knew the ritual, had done it at some point or was inviting kiri-ammas regularly (commonly once a year). Shaky family film clips of offerings to kiri-ammas can be found on YouTube, and kiriammas feature in sentimental Sinhala pop songs. Even advertisements (Anchor butter or milk powder) are honing in on the “traditional value” that kiri-ammas represent. Considering their popularity it is very surprising that invitations to milk mothers (kiriammadānas) have been little documented or researched so far. The kiri-ammas associate themselves with the goddess Pattini, but the form that the ritual takes borrows heavily from the monks' alms giving (use of Pali Buddhist chants, transfer of merit, etc.). This talk (and the short videos) will document and explore the way the kiri-ammadāna is situated between other forms of Pattini worship (such as pūjā at the local shrine) and monks' alms giving.
All are welcome!