The Sun radiates all the goodness of life! Sinhala and Tamil New Year! 0 1832

The Aluth Avurudda or the Sinhala and Tamil New Year as it is officially termed, is a traditional religio-cultural festival dating back from centuries past and held in April, the month of ‘Bak’ which word deriving from Sanskrit means ‘Bhagya’ or fortunate. Grandly celebrated throughout the country at specified auspicious times for each event, the Aluth Avurudda commence on the eve of the planetary change in the Zodiac circle with the sun moving away from Aries and entering Pisces.

The mythological concept of the Aluth Avurudda is that the Avurudu Kumaraya referred to as Indra Deva wearing a tall floral crown descends upon the earth in a silver carriage drawn by six horses. People in certain areas in the South of Sri Lanka light oil lamps to welcome the Avurudu Kumaraya and seek his blessing.

In the old world the agricultural farming society worshiped regional gods whom they believed to be in charge of the areas, during the planetary transition period of the New Year the Punya Kalaya also known as the Nonagathaya. Kalu Banda Deviyo, Minneriya Deviyo, Hurulu Deviyo, Ranwala Deviyo, Irugal Deviyo, Wanni Deviyo and Ayyanayaka Deviyo were some of the gods widely worshipped. Meanwhile, the goddess of chastity Pathini, figured among villagers in the Kalutara and Galle Districts where some rituals such as Peliyama and Ang keliya were practiced especially in her honor.

Although presently the Roman calendar is followed the world over, ancient Aryans formed the Saka Era affiliated to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year according to which we are in the Saka Era of 1941. This Saka Era depicted in almanacs was handed down to Sinhala Kings who adopted same in their official correspondence. Thalpath (ola manuscripts), thudapath, sannas and other royal documents as much as birth horoscopes carry the Saka Era.

From time immemorial up to the dawn of the new civilization, human beings had lived with nature, with chiefly those in agrarian societies of yore worshipping the Sun and other celestial elements. On the day of the New Year Hindus even today gather on the banks of the Yamuna River, and people of Benares on the banks of the Yamuna and Ganga to worship the rising Sun.

One of the captives of the English vessel which touched on the eastern coast in AD 1660 and was taken prisoner by the Kandyans Robert Knox, later wrote a celebrated book on the Kandyan Kingdom titled a ‘Historical Relation of Ceylon’ in which is mentioned that at that time, the new year was a major festival of the Sinhalese celebrated in March following the harvesting of paddy in February, six months after it was sown in September with the fall of the rains.

According to the chronicles, during the period of the Sinhala kings of the Kandyan kingdom there were four principal national festivals observed: the Avurudu Mangalya, Nuwara Perehera, Kaitiaya Mangalya – the festival of the lamps and the Aluth Sahal Mangalya – festival of the rice. These had been instituted both for religious and political objectives.

In ancient Lanka, before the approach of the New Year, the king’s physicians and astrologers were allocated specified duties. The former, to superintend preparation of a thousand pots of juices of medicinal plants at the Natha Devale in the premises of the Dalada Maligawa from whence carefully covered and sealed, they were sent to the royal palace and distributed with much ceremony to the temples where at the auspicious time the heads of the people were anointed on the ‘Thel Gana Avurudda’. The king’s head too was anointed with great solemnity. Meanwhile the duty of the astrologers was to form the Nekath Wattoruwa based on which commenced every activity: the Nonagathaya, dawn of the New Year, lighting the hearth, partaking of the first meal, ganu denu or transactions, and settling forth to work.

Sinhala kings gave royal patronage to the celebrations. During the rule of the Nayakkara Kings, festivities shifted to fall in line with the Tamil New Year, Pudu Warsham. The palace was adorned with thoranas or pandals that made a very fine show. On top of implanted poles were flags fluttering and all about hung painted cloth with images and figures of men, beasts, birds, and flowers. In addition, fruits were hung up in order and exactness. On each side of the arches stood plantain trees with bunches of plantains on them. At the appointed time of commencement of the New Year, the king sat on his throne in state surrounded by his chiefs, and the ceremony began.

The rituals of ganu-denu or transactions prevail in society but with a different from the past. In the Kandyan Kings regime the ceremonies were held as a joint ritual with all office bearers participating to prepare the royal cuisine. They were the Bathwadana Nilame, Vahala Ilangama, Muhandiram, Kuttaha Lekam, Sattambi Ralas, Madappuli Ralas, Mulutenge Mahattayas, Pihana Ralas, Mulutenge Naide. Those in attendance were Maha Aramudali Wannaku Nilame, Maha Gabada Nilame, Veebedda Rala and Undiya Rala.

It is recorded that during the ganu-denu period people brought in as taxes, money, corn, honey, cloth, alcohol, oil, wax, iron, elephant tusks and tobacco among other items. Following the ganu-denu the citizens went among their professions. The king himself as the head of the nation went to the field and turned the first sod with the royal golden plough. This was a feature of patronage of the kings and especially the anointing of the head was looked as a special interest taken to look after the health of the people. The traditional outdoor games seem to have disappeared from the villages.

‘’The lessons all the rituals impart is the togetherness, generous collective harmonious living with mutual help and service to others to co-exist’’

By : T V Perera

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

LOCKDOWN – THE LESSONS WE LEARNED 0 144

BE THE LIFE OF YOUR OWN PARTY

There is no doubt, that solitude for an extended, and unknown, length of time was the biggest challenge for many of us during the lockdown. The prospect of having to spend months on end stuck in a house with few options for entertainment was initially daunting, but then again isn’t necessity supposed to be the mother of invention?

For many folks, it took a few weeks to get over the shock, and gradually, as the gravity of the situation sunk in, acceptance followed. For some, it may have taken just a little longer to achieve that acceptance, but after much aimless milling about they finally got themselves into gear.

Most people I spoke to on the issue however related to me their stories of how they eventually learned to enjoy their own company. The lockdown it seems was the perfect opportunity to engage in some much needed soul searching, and wade through the depths of our own selves to come up with our tailor-made coping systems, because gone were the days of having the physical presence of a large friend circle to help you with that.

So the first lesson I learned, was how to be the life of my own party. I ended up throwing together a list of things I love doing, and drew up a schedule for my week. The list included things like reading a specific book for a couple of hours each day, spend an hour or two looking for new music to listen to, watching a tutorial, look for a new recipe involving whatever I had on hand, and many others as well. However, the biggest battle I faced was in fact the urge to not do anything at all and just stagnate while waiting for the lockdown to end. It was a very fine line that in hindsight I am glad I never crossed.

Experts believe that using the schedule method is one of the most effective ways to cope with cabin fever, because the lack of a routine can lead to increased dissatisfaction and even depression. Further, having a regular schedule also improves sleep, by reprogramming your body clock. Hence, the next time lockdown comes around (God forbid), create a schedule of tasks and fun-filled activities in advance to gain a sense of control and help you alleviate anxiety. Your schedule should ideally include allotted time for exercise, mindfulness, socialisation, and learning as well for the best results.

MINDFULNESS DESTROYS DISHARMONY

Those living with family however, have a very different take on the issue. After years of living through a routine where the family home was just a place to fall asleep and have an occasional meal, the prospect of spending three whole months locked in with a family seemed at first to be akin to a well-deserved holiday. However, as the weeks dragged on the illusion begins to dissipate.

After the initial honeymoon period, having to conform to a schedule that you have no control over, becomes more of task than you think. This leads to irritability, frustration at not being in control, and shorter tempers, that ultimately serves to destroy the harmony of your home.

This situation was even more challenging to those who were forced to move in with older family members unable able to cope alone. One person who was faced with such a situation cited having a feeling of despair after the first couple of months, fearing that the temporary situation may just become permanent after lockdown ends.

Having your independence threatened by unforeseen forces can be a very stressful experience. Hence, knowing how to balance your independence and responsibilities, tempered with a big dose of understanding, is key to building a healthy relationship and maintaining your own sanity.

Therefore, mindfulness is key. Taking a deep breath and pausing before reacting, is also a good way to preserve your sanity. After all, isn’t the whole point of taking on such a challenging time your own personal growth? If you succeeded in achieving mindfulness throughout the lockdown, you deserve a pat on your back for learning the most important lesson anyone could have.

LOCKDOWN FATIGUE IS A THING

What is lockdown fatigue? If you’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings, combined with underlying anxiety, future uncertainty and a lack of control over part of your life throughout the lockdown, then you now have a name for that feeling.

Experts say that this can also be characterised by symptoms such as oversleeping, changes in appetite, weight gain, and tiredness or low energy.

Some have described these symptoms as “brain fog,” and have also noted a marked decrease in short term memory as well. Hence, recognising the symptoms and acting on them before you fall too deep into the abyss is the first step to recovery.

The second step is knowing how combat it. Medical professionals say that the best way to begin the recovery process is to improve your sleep cycle. Key to this is reaching a balanced sleep-wake cycle, because it provides an “anchor” in the day that allows us to give our circadian rhythms a chance to get to work and have a positive effect on energy levels, emotional balance, and hormonal regulation.

Further, disconnecting from technology, media, high-intensity activities, and embracing more mindful activities will help you de-stimulate and relax, which improves your body’s ability to relax and get ready for a well-deserved rest.

SAVING MONEY ISN’T THAT HARD

One of the most startling realisations I arrived at, through the first wave’s three-month lockdown, is that I spend way too much money socialising such as going out, drinking, shopping, or even ordering in food.

For the first time in my life, I actually ended up saving money by staying home and being restricted. True, it’s not the most enjoyable way to end up with extra cash, but then again I realised that my priorities were badly in need of a reassessment. My priority list right now, post-lockdown, has been trimmed down, and this has set the foundation for what I hopefully be a year of a healthy bank balance.

My biggest savings actually came from taking the time to cook my meals, which I calculated at around a staggering Rs.15,000 each month just on delivery options. Mind you, this is just one of the many areas that required trimming.

Hence, if you have some cash to spare at the end of the month during this time, it’s also important to consider a good home for it to grow. I have come across a couple of people who have chosen the stock market as a destination for their extra cash. With the recent digitalisation of the CSE, with a trading app launched as well, the doors have been opened for people like you and me to make our money grow.

So if you haven’t started reassessing your spending habits in the new normal, then I think it’s time you did, because after all we are living in probably the most uncertain time of this century. Just the right time to start a little nest egg of your own.

THE CHALLENGE OF SELF-MOTIVATION

For those of you who experienced working from home for the first time in their lives, the idea may have been exciting, but the reality was far from it. I’m an old hand at working from my den. Having worked for two years as a freelance writer, I know the dangers of getting too comfortable with my home surroundings, and not to mention the innumerable distractions a home front offers.

To have the discipline to push yourself and remain immune to the call of lethargy takes an iron will, and will reveal some startling truths about yourselves. However, getting it right at the outset is key, because designing your personal work space and schedule, and motivating yourself to stick to it for the two weeks required to settle into a routine only takes persistence.

In contrast, the plus points in working in an office environment is that you hardly have to motivate yourself – that’s what your superiors do. Also, having colleagues to interact with also sweeps you up in the moment and syncs you with the office energy and buzz. That is a key aspect that we don’t realise has such a bearing on how productive we are. Having taken this for granted in the past, and also having come to such a realisation early on, my efforts at self-motivation were backed with a large dose of commitment, which is the fundamental building block to success I believe. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to character and mettle, because if you can’t motivate yourself, then is there really a point?

Colombo Fashion Week 2020 Summer initiates responsibility in fashion 0 252

By Shenali Bamaramannage 

True to its reputation as one of the most elite fashion events in South Asia, the 17th CFW 2020 Summer kicked off in the heart of Colombo in all of its glory within a span of 3 days from the 13th to 15th of August, showcasing the creativity, talent, and passion of 27 local designers. Resilient in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held with strict health precautions to ensure the safety of the participants. The audience was encouraged to maintain social distancing and wear masks at all times. The event was live-streamed in an attempt to allow fashion enthusiasts to experience Sri Lanka’s most prestigious fashion show on a global scale.

The fashion industry being the environment’s top 5 polluting industries in the world, CFW 2020 took the initiative to introduce the revolutionary concept of ‘Responsibility in fashion’, the first of it’s kind in the world, highlighting the urgency of the need for sustainability and circularity in the industry and providing designers with the knowledge and tools to approach it with actionable plans. The incorporation of the Responsible meter has played a key role in shaping this change, making the process of fashion designing more transparent, accountable, and responsible by urging the designers to implement more sustainable methods of manufacturing and disposal.  

According to Mr. Ajai Vir Singh who is the Visionary, Founder and Managing Director of Colombo Fashion Week, ‘This was in the works for the last couple of years and we really wanted to be the first fashion week in Asia, if not the world, to introduce a system of accountability which encouraged and celebrated the responsibility in Fashion, which is such an urgent need. This system of the audit is very different to what is available, it does not take the route of policing and accusing but of training, of aligning hearts so that this path of change is embraced by all designers and stakeholders to lead towards positive impact.’ He went on to state that the system educates the fashion consumers and is the next step in Responsible fashion which can be enabled across various fashion platforms with relative ease.

Providing upcoming designers with a platform to showcase their creativity and gain recognition has always been a key aspect of the HSBC Colombo Fashion Week. This year was no different with the first day of the event on the 13th of August in Shangri-La Colombo, solely focusing on 13 outstanding emerging designers. They are namely, Achala Leekoh, Ayesh Wickramarathne, Chamanka Pehesara, Divya Jayawickrama, Harinda Gunawardena, Hirushi Jayathilake, Himashi Wijeweera, Joanne Kulamannage, Mikail Hameed, Nilusha Maddumage, Ranga Senevirathne, Thamoda Geegamage, and Udarika Dalugama. These high-caliber young designers were mentored by the CFW mentorship panel after their selection, enabling them to refine and perfect their skills to put on an unforgettable show, stunning the audience with their elegant embroidery, bold silhouettes, excellent pattern-making, classic tailoring, unique prints, and amalgamation of traditional aspects with the modern in order to create wearable contemporary pieces which environmentally non-toxic in nature. The featuring of new face mask styles in the midst of the pandemic is a notable feature.

The second and third days of the fashion week were held on the 14th and 15th of August in Shangri-La Colombo and Hilton Colombo respectively. The events featured collections by some of the most established and accomplished designers on the island. Aslam Hussein, Dimuthu Sahabandu, Fouzul  Hameed, Koca by RN,  LOVI Ceylon, Vogue Jewellers, and Wraith took over the runway on Friday while Amilani Perera, Charini Suriyage, Indi, Jai by Aashkii, Limak by Kamil, Meraki and The Old Railway were set on Saturday, the third and final day. These distinguished designers no less than awed the audience with their stunning couture (and jewelry) collections together with their stunning presentations.

The leading companies with aligned goals that joined hands with CFW to bring on this elaborate fashion show are The Title Partner HSBC; The main partners, Shangri-La Colombo, Hilton Colombo, TRESemmé, Vogue Jewellers, Vision Care, and Hameedia; The associate partners, Ramani Fernando Salons, Media Factory, Emerging Media and We Are Designers. Their joint vision together made this hallowed event a success.