Hunting For Gold At Paradise Beach

By Dinidu de Alwis

Questionable economic opportunities

A man clad in a sarong makes his way along the sand. With a pair of diving goggles and a snorkel in hand, he treads carefully along the shoreline, his eyes fixed on the sand before his feet. He looks for a shimmer, a tell-tale glint, and seeing none, he dons the diving mask and snorkel, and steps in to the waves.
The man is looking for economic opportunity through local tourism, though at first glance he seems to be searching for lost trinkets. There are several like him along the shoreline of Polhena, in Matara. Polhena is known as a safe bathing spot, and is popular among local travellers who want a taste of salt water while they bathe. The reef a few hundred meters away, breaks the rough waves in a way where it’s a few soft waves that finally kiss the golden sand. This has attracted local tourists who are traveling along the southern coastline to get to locations like Yala or Kataragama. There is also a different crowd which makes the Polhena beach their main point of travel — a day at the beach.
The man, along with a few others like him, are looking for jewellery dropped by the people who bathe there. Donned in diving masks and snorkels, the few men are a regular sight on Sunday and Monday mornings at the Polhena beach. While technically not legal, the ethics of their practice can be questioned. But like many in the tourism industry in Sri Lanka, they look for economic opportunity where others fail to do so. And the findings, if there are any, can be golden.
When the crowds gather at the beach, the men are supposed to watch for any sign of visitors dropping something. When they notice people looking around for a dropped ring, bracelet or necklace, they make their way towards the unassuming visitor and help to look for the lost wearable. But almost always the lost is not found, but where it was lost is closely remembered. With apologies they retreat, the poor visitor now bereft of a valuable possession has a lousy day and leaves. Next morning if the poor soul were to return, lo and behold the sight at the beach, the same men who were so generous with their help to look for the piece of jewellery are still looking for it. Only this time, its finders keepers.
A person known as Kiri Malli, says “We sometimes wait around and dive the moment we sense people drop something. The owners wait around hoping to find their lost valuables, but to no avail.”
According to him, the finding process is not merely diving around looking for the gold. “We dig the sand, and when we do, the rocks, pebbles, some corals, and even the fish eggs are released to the sea. In a way we mess up the whole beach”, he confesses — “It’s wrong”.
But who cares and who will stop? Only last month one chap walked away with a chain that was resold for Rs 20,000. Only Kiri Malli was willing to talk about his morning strolls on the beach and the occasional snorkelling under the early sun. Others don’t meet visitors’ eyes, and are nervy when cameras click and move off quickly.
Will the practice stop? Not very likely, unless someone were to ban snorkelling or even walking on the beach with eyes trained on the sand.

8 Comments for “Hunting For Gold At Paradise Beach”

  1. ree

    1. What is Islaam?

    The word “Islaam” is an Arabic word that means “submitting and
    surrendering your will to Almighty God”. The word comes from the same
    root as the Arabic word “salam”, which means peace. Unlike the names
    used for other religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity,
    the name for the religion of Islaam was both revealed by God and
    carries a deep spritual meaning – only by submitting one’s will to
    Almighty God can one obtain true peace both in this life and in the
    life hereafter. Islaam teaches that all religions originally had the
    same essential message – which was to submit whole-heartedly to the
    will of God and to worship Him and Him alone. For this reason, Islaam
    is not a new religion but is the same divinely revealed Ultimate Truth
    that God revealed to all prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses and

    2. Who are Muslims?

    The Arabic word “Muslim” literally means “someone who submits to the
    will of God”. The message of Islaam is meant for the entire world and
    anyone who accepts this message becomes a Muslim. Some people
    mistakenly believe that Islaam is just a religion for Arabs, but
    nothing could be further from the truth, since in actuality over 80%
    of the world’s Muslims are not Arabs! Even though most Arabs are
    Muslims, there are Arabs who are Christians, Jews and atheists. If one
    just takes a look at the various peoples who live in the Muslim World
    - from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Morocco to Indonesia – it is easy
    enough to see that Muslims come from all different races, ethnic
    groups and nationalities. From the very beginning, Islaam had a
    universal message for all people. This can be seen in the fact that
    some of the early companions of the Prophet Muhammad were not only
    Arabs, but also Persians, Africans and Byzantine Romans. Being a
    Muslim entails complete acceptance and active obedience to the
    revealed will of Almighty God. A Muslim is a person who freely accepts
    to base his beliefs, values and faith on the will of Almighty God. In
    the past, even though you don’t see it as much today, the word
    “Mohammedans” was often used as a label for Muslims. This label is a
    misnomer and is the result of either wilful distortion or sheer
    ignorance. One of the reasons for the misconception is that Europeans
    were taught for centuries that Muslims worshipped the Prophet Muhammad
    in the same way that Christians worship Jesus. This is absolutely not
    true since a Muslim is not permitted to worship anyone or anything
    besides Almighty God.

    3. Who is Allaah?

    Very often one will here the Arabic word “Allaah” being used in
    regards to Islaam. The word “Allaah” is simply the Arabic word for
    Almighty God, and is the same word used by Arabic speaking Christians
    and Jews. If one were to pick up an Arabic translation of the Bible,
    one would see the word “Allaah” being use where the word “God” is used
    in English. Actually, the Arabic word for Almighty God, “Allaah”, is
    quite similar to the word for God in other Semitic languages – for
    example, the Hebrew word for God is “Elah”. For various reasons, some
    non-Muslims mistakenly believe that Muslims worship a different God
    than the God of Moses and Abraham and Jesus. This is certainly not the
    case, since the Pure Monotheism of Islaam calls all people to the
    worship of the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all of the other

    • GodSquad

      Who cares about your Islaam man? Who cares about Christianity or Buddhism or an ism? Live and let live. Christians and Muslims have clashed over the centuries and have caused more violence and death than Buddhists or Hindus or aetheists or agnostics. Who gives a crap?

  2. “Gautama Buddha’s thoughts about the world are in remarkable accord with discoveries in modern science. In Buddha’s analysis of the mind, for example, modern discoveries in psychology would seem to have been anticipated. More impressively perhaps, in his analysis of the Universe recent developments in astronomy have been similarly anticipated. The Earth as a planet around a sun, the sun a star amongst billions in the galaxy, and the galaxy being one of many billion galaxies are propositions that have striking counterparts in Buddhist scripture. In the Visuddimagga it is stated that “… as far as these suns and moon’ s revolve shining and shedding their light in space, so far extends the thousand-fold universe. In it are thousands of suns, thousands of moons thousands of Jambudipas, thousands of Aparagoyanas …”, the latter references being to extraterrestrial abodes of life. The billions of galaxies discovered in modern astronomy could be identified with statements referring to the entire Universe as “… this sphere of a million, million world systems”.”

    That is an extract of paragraph of an article prepared on a lecture delivered at the London Buddhist Viharaya for Vesak by eminent cosmologists professor Chandra Wickramasinghe.

  3. Idrees

    While this may not be actually legal, I feel nothing wrong with this practice as they are not stealing, just finding. If the owners or someone who will give it back finds it, they will get it back. Otherwise someone else who doesn’t know who it belongs to will be finding it anyway.

  4. anthony jones

    This is the way the country functions today, it is a finders keepers policy.

    There are bogus deeds being registered by those in power when they come across a vacant property.

    The jewellery and the gold of the Tamils are very safely secured in the vaults of the banks many hundreds of miles away from their original point of deposit.

    The houses and properties are forcibly occupied in the east and north of the country by the military whilst the legal owners live in misery under plastic tents.

    All this in the nation of the dhamma. a j.

  5. Dorothy Van Arkadie

    digging for treasure either of the past or the most recent has always being the past time of people . We read about in history . Golden ages of European countries when they brought over treasure from South America . Sometimes they did not wait for the owners to leave but made them leave and took over and became wealthy . They were not criminals but rich Pirates admired for their brain and brawn . Even today we have games about treasures hidden in islands and the winner is the one who can locate them !

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