Saturday, August 28, 2010


Due to cultural relations and the tradition of getting queens for the kings of the Kandyan era from India, we received this wonderful traditional drama from India. In South India, this type of drama was popular under the names of 'Baghavati-mela' and 'Thurukuththu' or street dramas.
These dramas are similar to Western operas and Peking musical dramas.The first nadagam drama to be staged in Sri Lanka was 'Harischandra', a drama which was very popular in South India at that time. Earlier nadagam dramas were mostly directed in Tamil; Peduru Silva, who was born in Modara, had translated 'Harischandra' intoSinhala in 1801. There had been many Sinhala nadagam dramas since then.
The father of Sinhala nadagam is known as Pilippusinno (born in 1770). He was popular as a composer too. He is credited with writing the first nadagam in Sinhala.
These nadagam have a touch of Christianity, because almost all nadagam writers were Christians. It had taken some time to relate Buddhist stories to nadagam.
Nadagam are very popular in the coastal areas. They were mostly seen in Jaffna, Chilaw, Colombo, Matara, Weligama and Tangalle. Though the idea was generated at Hanguranketha, it was put into action in Colombo.
Acting style
It had been a tradition in the olden days to perform nadagam for seven days. Then slowly, it had become limited to one night. Those who don't have the ability to sing cannot act in nadagam. When the Pothe Gura (narrator) finishes describing the story, Pathrya comes to the stage according to the drum beat.
After making his entry, he introduces himself to the audience, through a song. In earlier 'nadagam,' the female characters were acted by males, but nowadays, females also take part in these dramas. In ancient days, the news about an impending nadagam was told through 'Anabera.'
The style of walking in nadagam is just as important as the songs. So, a lot of attention is paid to this walk. When the 'Pothe Gura' introduces a character with a song, those characters enter the stage according to a specific style which belongs to the character.
For this purpose, they have a traditional beat. The beats differ for each character. Simple music is used for nadagam. The music had evolved from Karnata music and had later taken a native face. Now these songs are mostly sung as traditional village songs.
There are around 24 types of nadagam music. At first, these songs had a Tamil touch, but later, when they started to be sung by villagers, they gained a native flavour.
The place where a nadagam is staged is known as 'Karaliya.' Alongside that, a shelter is also built, to cover the Karaliya. Between the shelter and Karaliya, painted curtains will be hung.
Around 1855, nadagam was staged in house stages as well. The first nadagama which was staged in a house was 'Konchi.' Those are the usual parts seen in all nadagam. After the arrival of the king, the first part of the drama will be over and the second part will begin.
1. Pothe guru:- He comes to the Karaliya, singing what is known as full (Poorna) song. This is done to invite the gods. He worships the Triple Gem and introduces the nadagama through this song.
2. Bahuboothaya:- The first one to come on stage, he is a comedian- type character.
3. Sellam Lama:- He comes on stage with a pen. He is shown as a handsome guy wearing valuable jewellery who has excelled in all fields.
4. Lecturers:- These two describe the nadagam.
5. Messenger:- They are known as drummers at the king's palace.
6. Handa Dhoothayo:- Their duty is to inform the public about the arrival of the king.
7. Asane Virinduva:- Pothe guru will sing this song when the king and the ministers arrive at the place. After this, they will take their seats.

Sokari, a Sri Lankan Drama

Sokari, Kolam and Nadagam are some of the most popular cultural dramas in Sri Lanka. From these, Sokari is the most popular because it was very close to the day-to-day life of villagers. This is an independent cultural event which is also conducted to bless the people.
The main purpose of performing this drama is to give priority to the religious connection between people, bring prosperity and provide some fun to the people.
This type of drama is very popular in hill country areas such as Badulla, Hanguranketha, Matale and suburbs. Its origin differs from province to province. According to Professor Ediriweera Sarathchandra's book Sinhala Gami Natakaya, the origin is as folows:
In the country named Kasi, there was a man named Guruhami. He got married to a beautiful woman named Sokari and hired a servant named Pariya. They started moving from country to country in search of a job.
At some point, they decided to come to 'Sinhala Deshaya' (Sri Lanka). They left their home at an auspicious time and after passing seven oceans, arrived in Sri Lanka.
First of all, they went to worship Sri Pada. Then, they went to a village named Thambaravita where they decided to settle down and build a house. Then, Guruhami went to the village in search of some rice, but because he didn't know the language, he faced a lot of difficulties. However, he managed to find some rice, but suddenly realised that there was no water to cook it with. Thus, he had to go to the village again.
This time, a dog which lived in the house of the village doctor, bit Guruhami. He somehow managed to come home . He lay down and rested a while. Pariya, who thought that Guruhami was dead, tried to use the opportunity to get closer to Sokari. Sokari got angry with Pariya,and ordered him to call the doctor.
When Pariya went to the doctor, the doctor refused to pay a visit unless Sokari herself came and asked him to see the patient.
Then, Sokari went and brought the doctor. The doctor treated Guruhami until midnight, and left the house with Sokari at dawn.
Guruhami, who was heart-broken, complained to God Kataragama about the tragedy. Then, he was given a sign to find Sokari. Guruhami traced her to the doctor's place. He took her back home and beat her, but after sometime, he forgave her and advised Pariya to take care of Sokari from then on.
Where and how it is staged
Usually, Sokari is staged in a 'kamatha'(in the paddy field). A pestle is kept in the middle of the stage and a lantern is lit on it to light up the place. The place where the drama is staged is marked with cords.
A 'malpala' is prepared on a side.'Gurunnanse' is there with a book, while ahorane player, thalampota player and drummer help the Gurunnanse to read the story.
He introduces all the characters and when he introduces them, they come and dance around the pestle.
Characters of the drama
1. Guruhami
2. Sokari
3. Pariya-Rama
4. Doctor
5. Soththana
6. Hettiya
7. Carpenter
8. Matchmaker
9. Snake charmer
10. Kali amma
Language and communication used...
All conversations in the drama include a mix of Tamil and Sinhalese. They use words with double meanings most of the time. Similar funny phrases are used in the 'Daha Ata Sanniya', 'Kola Sanniya', 'Kohomba Kankariya' and 'Gammadu'. Some events in the above dramas are very similar to those of Sokari'.
This is a very interesting cultural drama which was staged more often during the good old days. But it is very rarely seen nowadays. Some of our old cultural rituals are dying out now and that's why we are carrying these articles to increase your awareness about them.

Ramba Viharaya

This ancient place of worship in Ruhuna is located on the bank of the Walawe Ganga, in the village of Udarata on the Nonagama-Ratnapura Road. It is about 12.8 km from Ambalantota.
Maha Nagakula was the capital of ancient Sri Lanka in the 11th century AD. The Ramba Viharaya had been the 
 temple of the Maha Nagakula City where a large number of artifacts have been found during excavations. The Ramba Viharaya was the Royal Temple of the day.

It was also the hide-out for King Vijayabahu I who arrived there in the year 1055, while he planned his war against the Cholas for 15 years.
Sri Lanka was under the Chola rule for a period of 53 years.
Vijayabahu had been canvassing among anti-Ramanna Desas such as Burma, Kalinga and Pandyan countries, to form an alliance against the Cholas. He effected three attacks to surround Polonnaruwa and defeated the Cholas. His son Wickramabahu continued to reign from there while Prince Parakramabahu continued with the tradition. These reasons have prompted historians and archaeologists to carry out their research into the area. They had found a large number of monuments scattered in a land area of 200 acres of dense jungle.
The Ramba Vihara had become the most important religious and academic centre of Ruhuna between the 10th and 12th centuries. Scholars of the time such as Rev. Piyadassi Thera and Rev. Mahanagasena Thera had lived here and in other temples around it.
There had been an advanced civilization in the area. A large number of artifacts which had been found following research explorations conducted by scholars during the dry season had proved this fact. The venue itself is unique as there had been an ancient international harbour at Godawaya (there is evidence to support this fact).
Traders had been in the habit of travelling from China to the Arab Seas and Sri Lanka had served as an ideal venue for entrepot trading (imports are re-exported) for which customs duties were collected.
Inscriptions found at this venue during the 1st century AD have indicated that King Gajabahu was believed to have donated the funds collected as customs duty for the betterment of the temple. It is believed that it was from the mouth of the River Walawe that ships used to travel to Mahanagakula.
A strange Buddha image made of white sandstone, had been found from the site during excavations. It had been refined and preserved. The image is different from what had been discovered from other sites as it had been hollow.
When talking about the Ramba Vihara, one has to talk about the Manawulu Sandeshaya, a Pali poem which comprises about 30 stanzas. This is said to be a reply to a Buddhist priest from the Ramanna Desha by the name of Maha Kashyapa. He had sent a letter in Pali to the high priest of the Ramba Viharaya, inquiring about the activities in Sri Lanka.
The Manawulu Sandeshaya had been written by King Parakramabahu's heir, King Vijayabahu II. According to the chronicles, it is believed that the chief priest at the time was Nagasena. There is an inscription written in
 Pali about the Ramba Viharaya.
It is under the Ramba (banana) trees that Samanera priests had been learning their religion. Due to this reason, the Ramba Vihara had also been referred to as Kehelgamuwa. During this period in the 11th century, ships had been arriving from Ramanna Deshaya (lower Burma) at the southern parts such as Godawaya.
This area had been economically flourishing during the 15th century AD. During the Portuguese and Dutch periods, a chief priest by the name of
Maha Kappinna, had lived there.
Though it had been a role model for a monastery at Maha Nagakula during the 11th and 12th centuries, now it is somewhat deserted. The writer, during a recent visit, found that restorations have not been done properly. The restoration of some of the artifacts were still under way. Hopefully, we will see a better restoration process in the future to protect this important place.

Voice of a Pedestrian

The sun was setting by the time I reached Nugegoda. The people waiting to board the bus were polite enough to allow me to step down first. I hurried down, seeing their impatient faces to get in. The people waiting for the bus together with the teenage boys hanging around, watching the young girls pass by made me think of a beehive buzzing around. I worked my way through the crowd and finally reached the pavement.

It had been a long day at work and I was tired. All I wanted was to get home and take a relaxing bath. As usual, I took the bus back from work and that journey made me more exhausted.

Of course, travelling in a bus during the rush hour is not a cinch. Stepping into the bus itself needs so much energy. Finally, wiggling our way in, one has to struggle further to move through the crowd. With the conductor’s yelling Passata yanna (move backward) or issarahata yanna (move forward), you dare not pretend you did not hear him, else, he will shout out clues for the others to recognise who he is referring to.

The honking of cars, vans, and buses, hustle and bustle of the people and from screaming to greetings signalled the end of another eventful day. I felt the dust sticking to my face. I felt unpleasant, and unclean. I felt the heat, which bounced off the tarmac as if it could not take any more from the blazing sun.

Polluted air and the heat made me walk faster away from this tired city. Not only I, many pedestrians around me, felt the same. They did not want to spare a second to raise their head and offer a smile. “They too have their own quota of problems in life,” I thought. I walked faster as fast as my exhausted body could manage.

All of a sudden, I realised that someone had stepped on my slipper from behind. “Oops”, I looked back. “Sorry,” said a woman with a carelessly wrapped saree around her and with a sheepish smile on her face. “That’s okay.” I made it simple. I did not want to continue with the incident. After all, it was a mistake. I gained my pace again. I had no time to spare since I had a long walk home.

The traffic on the pavement was intense. Men and women wearing elegant office wear were racing against one another. With a blank thought, I followed them. Occasionally turning my head to the right and left, I looked at what hangs on the shop-windows, and then lazily changed the idea of shopping.

Lost in my thoughts, I realised that my ‘autopilot’ had stopped my walk. There was a couple walking in front of me deeply sunk in their world. Their speed almost stopped my run home. The girl was wearing tight blue denims with a purple top and matching hoop earrings while the boy wore a black T-shirt and grey denims. Both of them had books in their hands and the girl had a black bag on her left shoulder.

I tried to overtake them from the right but failed. Then I tried to overtake from the left, and I failed again. I had no choice but to tap the girl and ask “Excuse me, can I pass?” Exchanging puzzled looks with each other, they moved aside. They looked annoyed. Not wanting to be rude to them, I smiled a little while passing. They did not even bother to look at me!

The sunshine was fading faster than I thought. Even the vendors were getting ready to go home. While my eyes wandered around them, I faintly heard a whisper, “Lassanai,” (Beautiful).
Realising that someone had commented on my looks, I did not know whether to take it as a compliment or as a useless comment from a loafer. After a seconds thought, I decided to ignore that. 

The honking continued and all the vehicles were lined up at the traffic lights. I stood facing the pedestrians’ light. Vehicles were racing in and out to every direction of the junction. While waiting until light turned green, I could not resist watching the people who risked their life to save a minute or two by crossing before the right time. Are those timesavings worth as much as their lives?
I failed to think of an answer. I desperately wished if one of those people could give me the reason. Why do they risk their lives without choosing to wait for two minutes? It puzzled me so much. Without confusing myself further, I looked at the blank sky, wondering how long I will take to go home!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Confused Writer

She gazed into the computer screen perhaps for the hundredth time for that day. Still, the writer, in her, failed to type in an appealing tale. Her usual nature of writing has left her.

After a relaxing stroll in the garden, she settled back in the writing seat, believing the walk would have helped to relieve the tension, and allow free flow of ideas. She remembered how her friends came to the rescue with various topics. ‘Horoscope: Facts and Lies’ and ‘I am not writing a single article from today and how her witty fiancĂ© suggested that she should write about ‘How foreign tours are important for career development’, following her ruckus over his recent foreign tour. Finally, when she turned to her editor for salvation, she had other ideas and wanted her to write on something related to fashion.
Having spent the weekend with books,

 Katie Byron from The triumph of Katie Byron, Catherine Earnshaw, and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, haunted her days and nights.

The moment the writer started working on the Fashion Article, she heard tiny voices speaking at the back of her mind. “You adore us a so much, don’t you? We well worth a mention in your writings too,” voices said. After that, concentrating on the fashion article became the toughest task of all. Giving that up, again she started soaring off towards idling.

Day became night. Still, slumped on the bed, she thought what she should write.
A minute or two might have passed; she realized that instead on her bed, she was sitting comfortably in the audience of a theater in New York! Wondering if she had gained magical powers to teleport, she looked around.

The stage curtain moved and a girl appeared behind it. “Janani, in vain you could not find a topic still!” she exclaimed.  Her beautiful pansy blue eyes sparkled like stars and her golden hair hung down her back. The writer could not believe her own eyes, Katie Byron stood before her! Her memory had disturbed the writer’s thoughts day and night. She realised that her figure matched well with the description gave in the book, making it easier to identify her as the writer wanted to give her deepest sympathies to Katie over Denise’s death. However, before that, stage lights dimmed and the writer disappeared from the theater. She fretted for not being able to reply Katie. Later, she prayed the girl would not think she is being impolite of her.

The next moment the writer found herself standing on an isolated hilltop, and the cold breeze made her body numb. She looked around, except for one or two trees here and there, the place looked empty and quiet. Within minutes, she realised wherever she was she was not alone. “I have more visitors,” thought the writer. Isn’t that the gorgeous, but pale looking girl, Catherine Earnshaw? Catherine had a company too: Heathcliff, the one to whom she loved dearly, but never married. The writer recognized the rough look Heathcliff gave her. However, the stare failed to frighten her.

“He cannot be cruel to me as he did to Isabella,” she argued. Foolishly, Isabella refused to believe the words of Catherine and Nelly about Heathcliff. She got herself into trouble on her own. Sometimes, the writer feels sorry for him too, though his cruelty destroyed a whole generation. The uneducated soul became a beast because of the love he had for Catherine.

With all struggles, poor Catherine had to embrace death in her young age. Amid these thoughts, the writer remembered Nelly’s words about the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine roaming around the hilltop. Hence, she decided to stay away from them.

However, she badly wanted to see the graveyard of Catherine, Linton (Catherine’s husband), and Heathcliff. The surroundings became darker, and it suggested an arrival of a storm. She hurried to the graveyard. Before she could reach there, she heard a big noise. The next minute, she found herself on the bed instead of the hilltop, and saw her books on the ground. Apparently, her thoughts during the sunlight hours had turned into a fantasy dream. At the end of the day, somehow she managed to write an article for publication.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dreams Do Come True

Most A/L students who pursue the Physical Science dream of entering the Engineering Faculty at the University of Moratuwa (UOM). Unfortunately, for many, this dream never comes true.
Being accepted to UOM requires a lot of hard work, talent, and some luck. Nimantha Thushan Baranasuriya, who is a Software Engineer at Eurocenter DDC Ltd., was one of the lucky ones.
Through his hard work and talent, he was able to fulfil this dream of being accepted to UOM, where he worked harder still to be the best. He was the mastermind in beating all the other whiz kids and winning the ‘Most Outstanding Graduand of the Year 2009/2010’ and the ‘Top of the Computer Science and Engineering batch’ at the General Convocation, held recently, at which he graduated as a computer engineer.
“Royal College, Panadura, was my first school, where my mother taught. I was a student there until I moved to Sri Sumangala College, Panadura in 1993,” said Nimantha.
He won the ‘Best School Boy Award in 2004’ for his academic and extracurricular achievements at Sri Sumangala College. “I played badminton and table tennis for the school sports meet and most of the time I became either the champion or the runner-up,” he said.
He also joined the Radio Club because of the love he had for electronics. “I even did some inventions such as electronic code locks for doors, cobweb sweepers and burglar alarms,” he said.
“Until recently, I had the electronic code lock for my room door and the cobweb sweeper, which had a brush rotating with the help of a motor. This impressed my cousin, who then wanted one of her own,” he added.

His school life had always been exciting, as he recalled, “This happened when I was in Grade 12. The ceiling of my classroom had an opening and some of my friends and I used to climb through this to explore the ceiling regularly. The roof of the building was so high; we could even walk on the ceiling without having to bend. It was like our secret hideaway. One day two of my friends and I went up in search of a ball. By that time, our Physics teacher walked into the classroom and we were trapped in”. “We could not climb down until he left the class. The opening of the ceiling was so large if the teacher looked up, he would have definitely seen us. Anyway, we stayed there without making a noise until he left. That day we learnt our physics lesson while being there”.

Nimantha, who got through his A/Ls in his first attempt, entered the Engineering Faculty of University of Moratuwa. Although he wanted to be an Electronics and Telecommunications Engineer, the subjects he learnt in his first year changed his mind and his new interest developed towards Computer Science and Engineering.
Therefore, when they were given the opportunity to select the field they want to follow as their major, he decided to pursue being a Computer Engineer.
“The three years I spent in the Computer Science and Engineering Department were the best years of my university life. We participated in many other fabulous events other than the studies,” he said. He had not wanted to become a bookworm and had participated in many events at the University. 

Among them is the Speak Olympiad intra-university speech contest organised by the UOM Gavel Club - which is an affiliate of Toastmasters International - where he became the first runner-up in 2008. He was the cinematographer and co-editor of the teledrama they produced in their second year.

He has also took part in many CSR projects and was a drama mentor for a group from their junior batch at the University. His love for tennis made him join the University tennis team.
“It helped me a lot to remain physically fit with the hectic study schedule we had,” he explained. “I consider being selected and being able to complete the project in the Google summer of Code 2009 as one of my biggest achievements,” added Nimantha. “Google Summer of Code is a global program that offers student developers stipends to write a code for various open source software projects. Thousands of students from all over the world apply and only a handful gets the opportunity to participate. My project proposal was accepted in 2009 and I worked on creating a new module for an open source medical record management software called ‘OpenMRS’,” he said.

Not only the knowledge and skills, he also found his lif’s e partner at the University. She is also a Computer Engineer from his batch. He was one exceptional student who invalidated the saying Loven ekek ek deyakata vei samatha (A person excels in one thing). He is talented in many ways. 

All through this journey his parents, teachers, and lecturers were there to guide him. According to Nimantha, all his achievements are a result of the guidance and the support given by them. His parents have never forced him to do anything, and he considers it a blessing. “Even the support I got from my lecturers was fantastic. They were supportive. I could always turn to them for advice whenever I wanted. More than lecturers, they were mentors and friends for my batch mates and me,” said Nimantha.
“Time Management is the key to a successful life,” he advises the youngsters. “Also whatever your dream is, try your best to pursue and never ever give up.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Internet Addiction

Loneliness - The lonely souls will meet their friends, relatives, and lovers online. It provides a way of connecting to people much faster and cheaper. With the latest technology paying only the internet charge, you can talk and see people who live across the globe. With the increase of dating sites, internet also enables virtual relationships with added privacy to the user.

Social Network Services have invaded the lives of the younger generation today. They are connected to these sites all throughout the day, and with the latest mobile technology, connection on the go is secured too. Things like status updates, writing on the wall, or poking a friend has become important tasks in their 'to-do' list for the day.
Not only these, nowadays search engines have become the 'Mr. Know all' or if you want 'Ms. Know all' for many. They search anything and everything in there. It can be the way to spell a simple word or a recipe or may be how to build a house too! The Internet has become the place where you can find anything whether it is good or bad. With this popularity gained by the Internet, now we have a personal disorder called 'Internet addiction'. Let us take a closer look to see what this disorder is.

Internet addiction defined

Internet overuse, pathological computer use or the problematic use of the computer that interferes with the day-to-day life is defined as the Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). The University of Texas has published some tips to help a person to identify whether he/she is an Internet addict. Read the list below and see if any of these statements actually describes you.

1.You have mixed feelings of well-being and guilt while at the computer
2.You make unsuccessful efforts to quit or limit your computer use
3.You lose track of time while on the computer
4.You neglect friends, family, and/or responsibilities to be online
5.You find yourself lying to your boss and family about the amount of time spent on the computer, also about what you do while on it
6 You feel anxious, depressed, or irritable when your computer time is shortened or interrupted
7. You use the computer repeatedly as an outlet when sad, upset, or for gratification.
8. You develop problems in school or on the job because of the time spent and the type of activities accessed on the computer
9. When you are not on the computer, you think about it frequently and anticipate when you will use it again

Cause of internet addiction

In many families, while parents are busy at work, neglected youngsters tend to spend their lonely hours at the computer. Parents also encourage this as a way of keeping their children occupied.

However, did they ever think that internet, the sweet nanny, could also be a monster one day? A habit that started for the convenience of the parents can go to the extent of a personal disorder due to many causes.

Depression - Teenagers tend to face many problems more than the children of other ages. Physical changes, changes in their feelings, and friends can lead to depression.

If there is nobody they can talk to, naturally, they will turn to the internet monster that is disguised as a sweet nanny. Even, the children who are low esteemed or having a history of addictions are also in danger of being internet addicts.

Hunger for information - People, who are always on the lookout for knowledge, will spend hours reading articles related to their favourite subjects. At the end of the day, it may lead to an unorganised life.

Social disorder - Some people find it difficult to interact with others in the real world. They don't get the attention or the respect they want from the others. Then as a result, they turn to the internet to live in their fantasy life online. They build up their own image in this 'internet world'. This affects real life relationships a lot. What if, one-day people stop meeting each other in real life, and then start seeing them online? All shops and cafes will be closed, and then the world will be a boring place to live.

Tips to help

While reading this if you felt this article describes you, do not worry! You are not alone. Many people are addicted to the internet nowadays. Let us give you steps to overcome this addiction. It is not hard to get over this addiction. If you could identify that there is a problem like this, you have solved the problem 50%.

* Try to identify the reasons for the addiction. Go through the causes of addiction again. See if any of those apply to you. If so, treat that first. If you have depression, see a psychiatrist. They will treat you to get you out of the depression.

* Learn how to handle stress. May be stress in school, or work may make you stay on the internet for long hours. Even the angry feelings, those you cannot control, may keep you out of the real world. Learn how to manage those feelings.

* Do you find it difficult to get on with people? Feeling excessively shy or the feeling that you never can understand people may keep you out of real life and enter the virtual world through the internet. Talk to your elders such as parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles who are close to you. They have experienced life more than you. They will tell you what needs to be done.

* Spend more time with your classmates and neighbours. Engage in sports activities or join a volunteering mission, where you can spend time helping people. This may reduce the time you have to spend on the internet

Most of these tips are given here are to try out yourself, but you can also get some outside support as well. Remember, internet addiction is not a crime it is just a disorder. With a little help, you can get over it. If someone you know is an internet addict, help them to find their way out of it. They need your help.