Sunday the 30th began at 8am and ended at 7pm. First was the unveiling of the “karanduwa” at a temple Chaithya or Dagoba. Next, a large temple in the Gampaha District, a 1800+ student daham pasala to present some chairs for the students with a Pradeshiya Sabha member who was a student here in his school days. It is amazing to find grand halls in out of the way temples! The mun kavun and konde kavun (traditional eats) that had just been made was just out of this world.
After visiting a few funeral homes, it was off to a home of a party to supporter for a chat over woodapple drink from his garden and then lunch at another party supporter’s place in Veyangoda. One of the people there was a World War II veteran of 95 who still gets his pension from the Queen or so he was proud to say.
We then went to the village of Vijaya Rajadhana near Meerigama to attend a session of poetry at their village hall, which is spontaneous and often very amusing. One has to actually attend one of these events to realize the wonder of the Sinhala Language as it pertains to poetry. The language lends itself to speak in verse. Even the speeches of welcome were in verse. To hear ones name in verse along with some of the invitees is a unique feeling.
There was the well known figure of Wadakada Navaratne who had organized this event along with a Buddhist Priest, an accomplished poet as are 8 others in this interesting form of poetry, from around the country who had been invited.
The sessions were not well attended partially due to the rains, but also due to this form of literature having lost some of its luster along with modernization. The MC bemoaned in verse how the young people would flock by the thousand in all sorts of outfits to listen to a group playing rap or pop, whereas the interest in this form of entertainment does not draw the crowds. It is a sign of the times.
I think it is the lack of knowledge and appreciation that keeps people away. I would dare a village to have even 5% who have attended this sort of event. The baiting and the interest shown by the poets to grab the microphone was apparent for all to see along with the fun they were all having at the expense of the others. To see the Buddhist priest participating so eagerly and so expertly at this event, made it more informal as his interventions were on current topics and contemporary themes. I sincerely hope that we can run some competitions in schools akin to debates to publicize and to inform students to partake in this activity, which is the only way to revive this interest to hone one’s language skills.