One reason Sri Lanka is referred to as a resplendent island attributes to its colourful gems in Ratnapura, Elahera, Embilipitiya, Okkampitiya in Buttala and several other places. Among the precious stones un-earthed from gem pits in Buttala are rubies, sapphires, cat’s eyes, moon-stones and garnets. Stones found in rough from are cut and polished by gem-cutters following which their values are assessed based on purity (free of blemish) and weight measured in terms of caratage – a carat being equal to 200 milligrams. Polished gems adorn jewellery, the crown of royalty, and in the past handles of swords of kings.
A third grade of although colourful stones were thrown back into the pits in similar manner as stone shavings and filings were discarded as obsolete and of no utility value until things took a turn when gem cutter Saman Ajith Bandara embarked on an artistic handicraft project, producing brightly coloured portraits, wall hangings, photo frames, plaque designs and sceneries with gem shavings and found a ready market for his products.
In an interview with BiZnomics, Bandara who has his workshop in Buttala said, “I collected shavings of natural stones in their separate colours, which otherwise would have been discarded and began my industry on a small scale”. Explaining previously when shavings were used ha says, “The only instance gem shaving are made use of is when they are filled into small clay pots and hung from roof beams with pure astrological meaning to ward off evil. On a traced map of Sri Lanka, I pasted the shavings giving each topographical district a different colour. Finally I had a 25 coloured map of Sri Lanka”. Bandara’s effort proved to be an instant success as he described, “I took the map to Ratnapura where a gem merchant paid me Rs.6000 on the spot for my handcrafted frame which provided me the necessary encouragement to produce more pictures”.
As orders increased, Bandara quit his gem cutting job to devote full time to the new venture, and to assist him secured the services of a close relative Indika who with time, become joint partner of the Crest Mineral Creatines Company they formed in the year 2000. The company presently count 15 artistically talented employees who contribute to its high earnings.
“A year has departed A new has started All have awaited For a festival elated Mistakes are corrected Good deeds are committed The crops are harvested For a tradition that brings a Nation together!”
‘Aluth Avurudda’ one of the biggest celebrations in Sri Lanka starts on 13th of April and ends in 14th of April that features lots of rituals and customs is one of the must things to experience.
Based on the movement of the sun from Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries) marks the end of the harvest season, Sri Lankans welcome the New Year in April with lots of rituals, fireworks and gourmet of traditional sweets.
The Sun festival or the Sinhala and Tamil New Year is a ritual performed to honor the Sun God for hundreds and hundreds of years, comes with a long history that is not experienced anywhere else.
The unique rituals and the traditions are what make the New Year special.
Neutral Period (Nonagathaya)
The New Year ritual starts from the neutral period where people keep off from all work and engage in religious activities to get the blessings to prepare for the New Year.
Lighting the hearth (Lipa gini melaweema)
With the dawn of the New Year comes the first ritual, the lighting of the hearth of the house to prepare milk rice to symbolize the prosperity.
First meal at the New Year table (Ahara anubawaya)
Food plays a major role in the New Year celebration at each house. A table with kiribath (milk rice), bananas, kevum, kokis, aggala, aasmi, aluwa, welithalapa, and many other traditional sweets become the centerpiece of any table. Every family that celebrates New Year enjoys the festival at the auspicious time after lighting an oil lamp.
Starting work and exchanging money (Weda alleema saha ganu denu)
Once the family finishes the New Year meal, they engage in some work to symbolize starting their work for the New Year. Next they perform a transaction among the family members and other respected parties. This also done with the well to thank it for the clear water provided the past year.
Anointing oil (Hisa thel gaama)
Oil prepared according to a special mixture of herbs are anointed on people’s heads to bless them with health and healing. This ritual is usually done by a religious leader, a family head or an elder superior in the village.
New Year sweets.
You cannot speak about the Sinhala and Tamil New Year without having to talk about food. These are some of the sweets prepared at almost all households during this time and shared amongst the families and friends to extend friendship or to forget any mishap during the past year.
Konda kewum – Made with coconut trickle and rice flour and deep fried.
Aasmi – A crunchy traditional sweet topped with traditional caramel syrup.
Kokis – Fried, crispy sweet made from rice flour and coconut milk.
Mung kewum – A diamond shaped sweet with a crunchy crust and a sweet paste of green gram inside.
Avurudu music and games
This is a season that’s focused on family. During this time people return home to celebrate the festival with the rest of the family. Fun games and activities play an important part at this time.
Playing the rabana (A large drum people sit around and play) Traditional board games (Olinda keliya, Pancha demima) Kotta pora (Pillow fight) Kanamutti bindeema (Breaking the pots) Kamba adeema (tug-war) Banis keema (Eating buns) Lissana gaha (Climbing the greasy pole)
April is perhaps one of the best months in Sri Lanka due to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year festival which cannot be seen anywhere else.
When saying TRX what we’re really talking about is a training method called ‘suspension training’. This has started in 1997 when an old Navy SEAL, Randy Hetrick developed a method that allowed for exercising during deployment.
TRX training is about using body weight exercises to develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously. It requires the use of the TRX suspension trainer, a performance training tool that leverages gravity and the user’s body weight to complete the exercises.
What you should know about the workout itself is that TRX is also a form of functional training. And why we like functional training is because the benefits go well beyond your fitness studio. With functional training you don’t just burn fat and build muscles, you also increase your core strength, power and mobility which are needed for virtually every movement of life.
If it’s all about the numbers and/or aim to lose weight, then we have got some good news. A single session of 60-min TRX training at high intensity burns approximately 400 calories. Which is indeed more than what you can expect to burn with all the fancy boutique cycling classes.
And, there’s more to it, we have just the person you can turn to who is also a professional TRX trainer in Sri Lanka.
Q & A
BiZnomics: How did you come up with the idea to start up the breakthrough Studio?
Answer: I have always been a fitness enthusiast. Fitness has been a passion, a hobby, and something I incorporated in my daily routine. I started my fitness journey as a personal trainer a year and a half before I started the Breakthrough Studio. Personal training became tough, I had to commute from Battaramulla where I was residing at the time, to meet about 6 clients a day whom I trained in Colombo. I didn’t see a future in it for me to grow in that area. I wanted to build a brand in fitness using TRX and create a business out of it. Having a little studio meant that I could do just that. And at the same time I could serve more people.
BiZnomics: What qualifications made you the best person for this?
Answer: The biggest qualification I say I have is the love and passion for fitness and TRX. Passion is the biggest qualification you need for anything in life. Other than that I am certified in TRX suspension training, TRX Rip training, and Pre and post-natal training. I also hold a BSc in Food Science and Technology from the University of Victoria, Australia.
BiZnomics: Do you follow a certain morning routine or daily schedule to maximize productivity and well-being?
Answer:I never had time to follow a morning routine, with work. I used to get only 6 hours of sleep on most days, and I love my sleep so, I never had a morning routine as such. My daily routine includes a one hour workout in between work, and on most days quiet time in prayer, and reading the Bible. Also listening to teachings of Prophet Kirby.
BiZnomics: What is the biggest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?
Answer: At the beginning of my career as a coach and an entrepreneur, I used to take 7 classes a day, and that I did for about a year and a half. It was a lot of work although at that time it didn’t feel like that. I couldn’t take time off, I couldn’t cancel classes, I knew that my clients were coming with enthusiasm and they had goals and were eager to achieve them. Therefore there was no time in between. I couldn’t find trainers who were passionate about what they did and who would be a part of the studio, until a few months ago. Now it’s a team of three who trains from 6am to 8pm at the studio. Finding individuals who love their job, the people with a passion to serve as you would to your clients who were also committed to what they do, was a challenge and I think it’s a challenge in any business.
BiZnomics: What did you do before starting up the studio?
Answer: I worked as a Senior Secretary to the CEO at Dialog Telecom. Thereafter for my dad, in our family owned business after which I turned into fitness and worked as a personal trainer.
BiZnomics: What is the most difficult thing about what you do?
Answer: Honestly NOTHING!!! This has been the easiest thing I have done ever, and I have the most amount of fun while at work too!!! I love meeting people from all walks of life, I love being able to have a positive impact on their life. Most of my clients have never worked out before, so it’s interesting for me to watch them enjoying a healthier lifestyle. It’s crazy but no, it’s not difficult at all, and I think that’s because I love what I do, and I have a knowing kind of an assurance that GOD has my back. There is ZERO anxiety and stress, when you realize who you are in God. It has never been difficult, even when I was doing 7 classes a day 5 days a week, it wasn’t impossible, I didn’t hate it, I loved it.
BiZnomics: What type of a person do you think should be an entrepreneur?
Answer: Anyone can if they have the right heart, attitude, passion, determination and the will to do it. BUT one must want it.
BiZnomics: What mantra do you live by?
Answer: I have a few;
See the Goodness of God in Every Situation whether it’s Good or Bad!
No matter how bleak the situation is God’s got my back;
There is blessing in the delay;
Always keep your conscience clean;
I am loved no matter what;
It is what – it is just – do it and get on with it!
It’s a mantra I use when I have to get stuff done and I am whining to myself at times, says Ashanthi laughingly.
Answer: I love being a couch potato and watching Netflix with Haren in my free time.
BiZnomics: What do you do to be motivated?
Answer: Spending time in prayer keeps me motivated. Praying in tongues keeps me energized and motivated. It floods me with ideas and creativity. Motivation to me is supernatural. It’s like a gift that fell on me suddenly and it doesn’t cease. I haven’t done anything to keep developing it as such and that’s why it is not normal. There is a sense of excitement and enthusiasm when I think about the studio. It has always been there since I started the studio two years ago.
BiZnomics: Do you think women feel intimidated in business?
Answer: There is no reason why they should, if it is so. It has nothing to do with another person or the business. They have allowed themselves to become victimized by someone else’s action or by somebody. They need to deal with it if they feel that way.
BiZnomics: What have you learned about mentoring others?
Answer: Still learning! Allow them to make mistakes and let them learn at their own pace, but push them to be good learners than fast learners.
Don’t mentor someone unless they want to be mentored, you need a willing heart;
Listen to their point of view;
Admit your mistakes;
Accept that everyone is different;
Don’t judge anyone;
Allow them to grow, and trust their growth;
Teach them responsibility at work.
BiZnomics: Is this your childhood dream?
Answer: YES, it indeed has been a childhood dream to own a business that I built myself, to start small and make it grow, to be a successful entrepreneur, to do something that would have a positive impact on society. To be where I am, I feel blessed.
BiZnomics: Where do you find courage, confidence and motivation?
Answer: In having a relationship with GOD and learning about him through his word, knowing how much I am loved, and knowing my identity in HIM. The secret of ‘success’ in every area of your life is in the ‘WORD’. That’s why I love the teachings of Wow Life Church. That’s what I am and what I want to become!