Sunday, April 29, 2012

When it is time for others to retire some only begin their next phase

                                                 55 going on 25 with nephews to add to the chorus

My sincere thanks to all who wished me for the day. I am off tonight on a bus with 55 of the NYF to Jaffna for the May Day Rally.

A busy day in the office, coupled with socializing in between with relatives and friends. It is all part of the mix of  life when there is seamless movement from one to another, just as it should be. A long night ahead and a wake up somewhere past Vavuniya for a dip in a tank before lunch! We are taking our cooks with us a right vandanava it will be.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Avurudhu Festivals a wonderful tradition – especially at the rural village level

This unique tradition of the “Avurudhu Uthsavaya” of which there must be 1000’s dotted all over the country in the month of April has evolved from the rabana drumming to the musical. I am really looking forward to the day, I can revive the rabana with the ladies in the cloth and jacket, and make that a must have event. I attended numerous avurudhu events this month, many this year in the Western Province had to contend with the rains coming at the least expected times, playing havoc with the scheduling which in the best of times can be tricky!

 One common feature today, which I do not concur with, is the stage that is set along with the sound system, and the usual DJ or even better, Band that is now part of this tradition. I must confess I am a little bit of a traditionalist and wish to include more of the games and competitions of the past. The cost of an event balloons due to these new additions, otherwise just as much fun can be had by all at a much lower cost. For example the average village fair, stage varies from Rs10K to Rs20K. The sound system another Rs5K-10K depending on the sophistication, (remember this is just for one day’s event in a village open space) The cost of a band can vary between Rs25K to Rs200K for one evening, and it seems to be a matter of pride for a village to have a band, the next best is a DJ.   


 I attended many events this month, and one common feature that irks me is the sound. It is just too loud and distorts the music, and the speeches. It is possibly because the electronics is also not the best at these price levels for local hire. The sounds, and music and stage are all businesses which specialize in these events, and charge accordingly as it is a time there is heavy demand for such during a short period of time.

I was also surprised how few of the lasses of today compete for the Avurudhu Kumari titles and Kumaraya, latter ones which are usually only for the small ones. These are random observations in the Western Province, and I trust the more rural the area, its subtlety and earthiness is greater.

One common feature is the incredible variety of the games, that permits everyone a chance of participation, be it in axe throwing for males, running on one leg, fancy dress or some other ambidextrous activity. The other is the array or prizes on offer, from push bicycles, electrical standalone fans etc. and the prizes are liberal so that everyone has a chance of getting something. I have not mentioned the marathons and bicycle races that cost a lot to sponsor which are usually the purview of the bigger festivals, and draws people from a wider area.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A special day of activities in Minneriya

The children presenting flowers for the traditional offering

On April 1st we had a packed day of events in Minneriya beginning with a daham pasala (sunday school) of 400 students studying under the trees in Nagalakanda Minneriya, with few school rooms to study in. It was a magical setting and I would recommend anyone to go there on a Sunday morning around 8am to see this awsome sight of so many children in traditional white, sarong or lamasari, for themselves.

We gave packs of exercise books to these kids

The next was another Sunday school this time at Akkara 70 close to my property in Raja Ela, Hingurakgoda. This was a new temple a few years from construction for the new settlers and the priest has done wonders in a short time to bring about a cohesive village.

Sunday school certificates were distributed

We also gave 25 chairs for the children at the school

One of the girls giving us a dance performance

The MC was a girl of around 12 who took full charge of the proceedings a very admirable and unforgettable experience.

A smattering of the parents and well wishes who participated

We then went to a Sunday school cum school in the Middle of the forest in Ilukwewa near Sigiriya which also falls under the purveiw of Minneriya, Here one of the students lights the traditional lamp

Every member of the whole school were given a pack of 4 exercise books, the first time anyone had come here for a long time to give them anything. They have to fear elephants each and every day as all the parents are farmers who have been recently settled here.

The Students entertained us with a dance upon arrival

Another traditional dance in keeping with the harvest season

We then went to a farmer village and met with farmer families who related their issues with being able to find a reasonable price for their produce. They were given some Chillington Crocodile Mammoties

There was a meeting in the Hingurakgoda town where local people came and we also gave sports equipment to some sports clubs which are starved off equipment to play sports in the evenings and weekends.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Medirigiriya - a recent visit

On March 3st 2012 we went around Medirigiriya, first to the famous Watadage, which was deserted, and without even a watcher or guard to protect this famous and valuable site of an ancient Monastery.

We then had a meeting at one of our active members homes, where we distributed Chillington Crocodile Mammoties to a Farmer organization and then after lunch there visited two two temples in the area, giving them small chairs to both for the Sunday school children.

Three samaneras at one of the temples are who we see here to the right

The Chaithya of the Temple above is unusual in that it is built around the two floors, with the glass round the top floor covering the inner sanctum.

The hostess at the event greeting us and who made us feel welcome at the event, along with a very tasty village meal for all who came.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The New Year Dawns – a time for reflection

I wish all my avid readers and the occasional itinerant a very blessed New Year filled with fulfillment of your personal goals and aspirations.

The auspicious time of 7.20pm on Friday 13th April 2012 was when the New Year dawns. It is usually on April 14th but this year, I think due to the leap year it came a few hours earlier and was 13th night. It was just marked by the ear shattering sound of fireworks all around me. I was more concerned for the welfare of the dogs as they usually get very agitated at the sound of fireworks. I guess it is a traditional sign of something to remember by and the lighting of the hearth time was 7.42. At least I have a hearth in my kitchen, in a separate building next to the house, which uses firewood here on the farm, though I also have a gas cooker in the pantry.

Unlike the traditions with no family here to partake in the rituals, I decided to spend the last few hours typing a document on suggestions for improvement in the higher education sector, namely the state one, as I believe the private sector can take care of itself.

We in Sri Lanka are fortunate, in that the 1st of the year as well as Sinhala New Year gives us two cracks at the cherry. I am confused when combined with Hindu New Year and not Tamil. Why is one based on religion and the other by a race? I guess those waiting to have a dig at SL will use this as a point, so let us just call it Tamil New Year and be done with it. I googled and in Tamil Nadu they celebrate Tamil New Year, so it is NOT Hindu as Sinhala chauvinists would like to call it!!

For me it is a time to spend a few days on the farm in Godagama, catch up on my laundry, time with the dogs, and generally recharge for the next innings.

I have received so many greetings by way of texts. This form of greeting has taken over from the traditional cards. Then when one goes into facebook there are numerous New Year cards inserted by people all with traditional New Year looks but except for the girls serving at Food City, I find it hard even at this time of year to find anyone wearing the Redda and Hatta. Despite the fireworks, which signifies any event, it is not the same as the traditional attire at New Year, one of the Hallmarks of our culture, is absent. Let us toast to a revival of that please!!!!

I just heard the fireworks again, this is the 10.28pm calling for the tradition of partaking in the first meal for the new year. I have no photos today, and will instead put a few photos taken on April 1st when we were giving kids at three different Sunday schools in the Minneriya electorate books, chairs and certificates.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A paduru party at Ratmale

I had the privilege of hosting a party for over 300 people at my home in Ratmale in Minneriya. Actually this was the first party I had since I built this home.

We had built a super bonfire which is shown here on the left and was still flaming away after the party ended around 2am.

There was a crowd of young people who also came from Hingurakgoda in a bus as well as the youth from the villages of Ratmale and the adjoining village of Rotawewa the two purana gamas which were in existence when the area was rediscovered by the British in the early nineteenth century.

The village of Ratmale was into agriculture, and Rotawewa was known for hunter gatherers in the surrounding forests and collecting bees honey from the bee hives there.

They have a unique dialect borne out of their isolation all those years back.

Dinner was served for all around 8pm with the food served on the Nelum Kola. All the food was local except for the Potato Thel Dala.

The two gentlemen in the photo were my special guests as I have known them for over 10 years and they are from the local area. Due to their age and infirmity they left after an hour, but were introduced to the chief guest, Mr Ruwan Wijewardene, who came to meet the youth of the Minneriya area and the rest of the Polonnaruwa district.

After dinner there was dancing and singing, with a lot of natural talent on display.

So after a lot of merriment, those whose legs were tired decided to relax on the provided mats and enjoy the evening, in twilight. After all I do not have electricity and the stars in the sky come out to hit you in these circumstances.

The locals from Ratmale joined in late as they could stay as long as they liked, while those from outer parts had to leave earlier due to the distances they had to travel to get home.

There was no alcohol served, and it was definitely not even needed and so it all ended with weary legs and not much else to complain about.

Maybe we should do this more often. It was all thanks to the ladies of the village who did a sterling job during the day to cook.

For those who wish to see the cooking in progress please see my blog which was created to showcase the home, called Kumbuk Pokuna Lodge.

www.ratmale, I have not begun to take bookings yet!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Today at the Jaya Shri Maha Bodhinwansa - Anuradhapura

We paid our respects and to obtain blessings for the hard road ahead in building a National Youth Front to empower and embolden the Youth of Sri Lanka

Atamasthanadipathi who is the caretaker of the sites in Anuradhapura where certain people with god complexes are trying to change the course of history, much to the chagrin of the Maha Sangha

A few words in lighter vein about my condition caused by the lust for power

Some of the office bearers of the NYF about to make the offering

The podi hamuduruwo of the Atamasthanadipathi who accepted the offerings to take up to the Uda Maluwa

A moment of contemplation

The anushasana for our cause

The pirith noola being tied round the wrist by the podi hamuduruwo