Thursday, April 14, 2011

Expanding the Sinhala and Tamil New Year even further - part 2

There were some more thoughts and encouraging updates after our first article on new year. Initially I tried appending them to the old post itself but realised it would make it longer and these batter have a separate short post instead. So here we go :

1) Seems like we are not alone in our line of thinking. Mt Lavinea hotel has this to say. "This is a celebration – one of a kind held in great reverence in Sri Lanka alone. Sinhala and Tamil New Year is an annual event that stimulates society, enlivens the nation and fosters national consciousness in Sri Lanka. The festival is celebrated mainly by the Buddhists and the Hindus. Now Christians too participate in New Year celebrations as this highlights the authentic customs that are synonymous to the event rather than the religious attributes and thus it has become almost a nation-wide festival" more

2) If all Sinahalese and Tamils (including Christians), are celebrating this event, then it becomes a national festival, one without no religious attributes. If it is a non-religious national festival, then our Muslim brothers and sisters too can join in I would say!

3) In our childhood days we used to enjoy a long vacation in April. At leas 4 weeks. That allowed us to visit relatives, celebrate new year in much more relaxed manner and of course to play more! New year games started 2-3 days before the new year day and continued even after the new year for 2-3 more days then.

Nowadays, sadly school holiday period has shrunk from year to year. (This time it is only 2 weeks!) If we want to preserve our culture in future generations, we should consider allowing our children to participate more freely in April festivals and follow traditions. Take an additional week from August holidays if needed but leave April school holidays for full 4 weeks!

What do you think ?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Expanding the Sinhala and Tamil New Year even further !!

What a great event the New Year Festival is......

Among all the other obvious, great, cultural and traditional reasons as to why New Year is such a special event like it is, there is yet another one reason we tend to overlook! 

This is the only special event in Sri Lanka where more than one ethnic groups join and celebrate together! Let's just think about it a little ......

In a nation battered by 3 decades of terrorism and even longer period of mistrust among ethnic groups, this one event where Sinhala and Tamil people can get together and celebrate as one group is a blessing indeed! Avrudu is a proud , identity defining occasion for Sinhala and Tamil nations.

And that's not all.. the potential of New Year celebrations to really unite this nation and bring together all it's ethnic groups together is far greater than we realise at present!

We call this Sinhala and Tamil new year. Saying Sinahala and Hindu would be the wrong way.. Can you say why ? yes, New year celebrations in April has very little to do with Hinduism as it does with Tamil nationality. That's why we don't see an equally enthusiastic celebration in Hindu Northern India. Similarly New year has very little to do with Buddhism as it has to do with Sinhalese. Come to think about it, Aluth Avrudu has very little or nothing at all to do with religions. 

Roots of the festival would link to the fact that agricultural communities in this region will be bringing home their harvest at this time of the year. Hence it is also a proud occasion of celebrating the labour, honest sweet work!

That brings us an interesting possibility. Sinhala Cristtians and Tamil Christians also can celebrate the New Year festival as enthusiastically as Sinhala Buddists and Tamil Hindus!! There is absolitely no reason not to! It is a very inclusive festival which has a meaning to all Sinhala and Tamil people, regardless of their religions. Since more than 99% of Christians in this country are either Sinhala or Tamil this would mean all our christian freinds can (if they so wishe) get involve in the festivities!

True, buddist will celebrate Vesak, Christians will still celebrating Christmas as their main event in the year and tamils will do so with theirs. Yet, in April we all can join together and have a great united festival.  For instance, our Christian neighbours got heavily involved (and still doing so as I'm writing this post) with Kawum  and Kokis making activities with us today. Alas, they seem more adapt than us on this!

If you have Christian friends neighbours, who wouldn't mind, extend them a hand to celebrate the event with you! I think this is one initiative we should promote! Somewhere in the past, some mistake has been done and Christian community was not celebrating New Year as other Tamils and Sinhalese in the country. I think this was some colonial divide and conquer tactic played on us rather than anything else. At least I haven't heard any theory yet from anyone on why Christians can not celebrate New Year festivals, in fact, looks like they (at least the ones in my neighbourhood!) are loving it!

If I'm ignorant on this and there is some deep Christian religious issue why it was happening all these years like the way it is at present, then some one please educate us on that via comments. Meanwhile.... Let's celebrate the greatest, common, most inclusive, grand cultural event in this country!

Now, this is why the Aluth Avrudu is a real blessing to this country! It can made to be even more inclusive than it is right now!!

Few more hours left.....  so brothers and sisters, let's join in the celebrations!!

PS : Few updates and more thoughts after the initial post have forced me to make a part2 for this post.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A solution to road construction ?

There are so many kilometers of roads being constructed in sri lanka each year. Then in the following year, there will be additional expenses in repairing them! We see most of times, how the same road getting repaired again and again while still being low in quality at times.

In the last flood alone, it was reported a staggering amount of damage (if I remember correctly, Rs 50 billion!) was done to country's road network.

There are number of reasons why road constrictions are such a big challenge to us.

1) Financial constraints. (being a developing country, we have limited budgets)

2) Corruption (Offering of the tenders to friends or under 'commissions') 

3) Law quality (again, related to item 2 above. It is being said that a contractor has to "satisfy" so many people in the chain that he get left with too little to actually try and build the road itself!)

So this is a problem we all see daily and affects all of us.......  Having that in mind, it is easy to see why this video is filling us with hope!

Try for your self!

This machine uses something called Layered Diagonal Herringbone style, the one most suitable for commercial brick layered roads. An approach like this with the help of technology, could solve few big issues all at once.

1) Time to build roads get drastically cut down.

2) Low wastage

3) High Quality (at least the quality will be consistent through out everywhere, making it easy to compare or spot problems)

4) Low cost (labor costs will be drastically reduced!)

5) If we still want tar or cement, may be we could still pour them over the laid out structure. (opinions of civil engineers will be good in here, don't just just the word of yours truly on this one!) Video shows this can be used with both earthen and cement blocks.

6) Biggest advantage I see is that this will reduce the need to go for contractors using the tender processes which are known to be hot beds for breeding corruption. Just imagine, if each provincial council owns a machine like this! savings could be drastic!

This last point however can be it's week point as well in the sri lankan context :-(

Those of you who are into civil engineering, construction or knows people at policy making positions, If you think this is a good technology for our country, let us spread the word! There is already enough information on web! Like this one

What do you think ?