"Star Lanka Online" Our NEW Web site And Web TV Channel Launched

TFGE , The Future Global Educational Center Has Launched
the official web site, called
*** Star Lanka Online Dot Com ........................

www.starlankaonline.com will be completed in very near future....

*** Star Lanka Online TV Channel,..................

Just One Click ahead ...

Now you can watch "Star Lanka Online TV" channel broadcasts from Matara, Sri Lanka in most part of the day. Still we are keeping a test transmission also. There is a link right side of your hand to watch our TV channel. You can watch (Click On the Box) live channel on this site without going to another site to watch the TV. and also recorded parts, following the below link.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Friday's remote solar eclipse will be on Internet

Friday's remote solar eclipse will be on Internet

By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Mon Jul 28, 5:16 PM ET

WASHINGTON - A total solar eclipse will darken some of Earth's skies on Friday, but geography, weather, the economy and even the Olympics are combining to make it a hard and expensive for people to see it.

The total blotting out of the sun, which occurs when the moon's dark inner shadow falls on parts of the Earth, can only be seen in mostly remote places: the northeastern edge of Canada, the tip of Greenland, parts of Russia, China and Mongolia, including the famed Gobi desert. For those who can't be there, it will be shown live on the Internet.

Some of the areas where the eclipse will last the longest — including parts of the Arctic — have a 75 percent chance of bad weather that will make it tough to see. This eclipse at its peak will last for 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

Yet eclipse chasers can't wait for the sky to darken, animals to howl and people to stare in awe.

"It's so rare and unusual, it's unfortunate to pass up any chance," said NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak, who has been chasing eclipses since 1970 and has his own Mr. Eclipse Web site and a NASA solar eclipse Web site. Espenak will be in northern China to watch the eclipse with a tour group.

The Olympics, which start a week later in Beijing, are making it expensive and difficult to get plane tickets and hotel rooms, Espenak said. And the world's economy and fuel prices are making it even tougher, so fewer people are going, said Richard Fienberg, editor emeritus of Sky and Telescope magazine and spokesman for the American Astronomical Society.

Past eclipse tours cost around $1,000 to $2,000, but many of the China tours are $3,000 to $6,000, plus airfare. To join Fienberg on a Russian icebreaker that includes a North Pole stop costs about $23,000.

There is a a cut-rate closer to home option.

"The northeastern part of Maine will see a little bit of this eclipse right at sunrise," Espenak said.

And the eclipse can also be seen remotely. Museums, such as the Exploratorium in San Francisco, will have eclipse events. NASA, the Exploratorium and others will broadcast the eclipse live on the Internet. It reaches its peak at 7:09 a.m. EDT.

Next year's total solar eclipse — July 22, 2009 — will be more southern and last the longest of the 21st Century: 6 minutes, 39 seconds. But it will be during monsoon season and can be seen, only if the weather cooperates, in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China and the Pacific Ocean.

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On the Net

NASA's 2008 solar eclipse web site: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEmono/TSE2008/TSE2008.html

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ancient Rituals in sri Lanka‘Gam Maduwa

Ancient Rituals in sri Lanka‘Gam Maduwa’

Just as much as villagers flock to the temple whenever a ‘pirith’ ceremony is held, people gather in large numbers when other folk rituals are performed. A ‘gam maduwa’, an elaborate ritual based on age-old customs and traditions would draw the entire village for an all-night outing. So will a ‘bali’ ceremony or a ‘thovil’ attract villagers in their numbers. These are community gatherings where people participate voluntarily. A ‘gam maduwa’ being an elaborate ceremony is not held very often. Being a rare event, it attracts village-folk from the surrounding villages as well.
As the name suggests, a ‘gam maduwa’ is a village affair. It is performed in a temporary shed erected for the occasion. It is of special interest to the farmers, for whom a ‘gam maduwa’ would bring in blessings of the gods for success in their agricultural activities. Others too believe that it would bring a lot of good to the village. It falls into the category of rituals known as ‘shanti karma’ and is a ritual with mass participation.
The Sri Lankan village is very much connected with agriculture. Thus folk rituals centre round customs, traditions, beliefs and other practices related to agriculture. The first portion of the harvest is offered to the gods and rice is used to offer alms thanking the gods and asking them for the protection of the next crop. Boiling of milk is also another way of hoping for a bountiful harvest.
The shed or hall built as the ‘maduwa’ is generally around 60 feet in length and 20 feet in width. It is gaily decorated with ‘gokkola’. A pandal adorns the entrance to the ‘maduwa’. Hung on it are different kinds of fruit. The erection of the hall begins at an auspicious time when a vow is made to the gods promising to have the ‘gam maduwa’ on a specific date.
The central figure in the ‘gam maduwa’ is goddess Pattini whose symbolic emblem is kept on a special dais in the centre. In front is the ‘mal asanaya’ where flowers are offered with paintings of the goddess on either side.
Other deities who are worshipped in the region are also featured.
During the nightlong ceremony verses invoking the blessings mentioning these gods are sung and numerous forms of traditional dances are performed to the accompaniment of drums.
The ‘pandam paliya’ or the torch dance is of significance where the torches keep burning throughout the night. ‘Bali’ is a less elaborate form of ritual than ‘gam maduwa’ and is basically a sacrifice to the deities. It is closely related with astrology and often a ‘bali’ ceremony is held when someone is having a bad time or is suffering from a serious illness. ‘The bali adura’ officiates using a whole heap of paraphernalia including ‘pol mal’ (coconut flowers), ‘puwak mal’ (arecanut flowers), stems of plantain trees, flowers of at least five different colours, betel, coconuts and lime. Although a ‘bali’ ceremony is held for an individual or a family, sometimes it is also planned to bless a whole village. Lots of chants are recited while offering many types of food to deities, spirits and demons. These are all done with the hope of getting some favours. It may be an appeal to cure an illness or to improve a business, which had collapsed.
The ‘bali’ ceremony begins in late evening in a specially decorated pavilion where images of deities and others are exhibited. If it is held to cure a sick person, he or she will sit or lie down in a corner. A cock is generally kept tied to an image. Dancing, chanting and drumming continue throughout the night and towards the end there is frantic dancing by the ‘bali adura’ or chief official who falls flat on the ground as the climax is reached. His assistant would quickly get near him with an ash pumpkin, which is kept on his chest and cut in two. The departure of the evil spirit is marked by the somewhat rash behaviour of the ‘adura’ who runs about pulling down the decorations and other stuff. The breaking up a branch signals the end of the whole episode. The ‘aturaya’ then leaves quite exhausted yet with the fervent hope that he would be cured.

Pics and text from Internet

---------http://www.lakbimanews.lk/education/edu2.htm

The versatile jackfruit

The versatile jackfruit

The mulberry family contains about sixty general and over 1,500 species of trees and shrubs, found mainly in the tropics. However, only a few, including the fig and mulberry, are used as fruit. Others, including the breadfruit, jackfruit, and champedak are used both as a fruit and as a vegetable. The jackfruit is thought to be native to the rainforests of India, spreading to Sri Lanka, then onto the mainland of Southeast Asia, keeping to the more northerly regions and away from the tropical areas favoured by the breadfruit.

Jackfruit family

Cultivation of the fruit has taken place in India since ancient times, as well as in Southeast Asia, Africa, and tropical regions of America and Australia. The jackfruit is one of the largest fruits grown in tropical Asia. It is often three feet long, twenty inches in diameter, and may weigh over ninety pounds; although they usually average about forty-five pounds. Next to the pumpkin, jackfruit is the largest fruit in the world. A general distinction is made between soft jackfruits, which can be broken open with the hands, and the hard ones which require a knife to open them. Strangely, it is the latter that is preferred, but there are many varieties that do not fall into either category. Some believe that the best variety of all is the peniwaraka (honey jak) from Sri Lanka.
The jackfruit is the largest of all tree-borne fruits, but is really a collection of fruits which fuse together as does another relative, the fig. These large, irregularly shaped oval fruits grow directly from the trunk of the tree on a short stem. Considered to be a composite fruit, it has a structure similar to that of a pineapple, but not as tidy, with sections clustered in irregular clumps and covered with spikes. When the jackfruit is ready to eat, the skin will be stretched out enough for each of the spikes to stand clear of one another. Although the smell of the fresh fruit has a disagreeable musty odour, the flesh inside has an aroma of pineapples and bananas. Inside the fruit and under its green shell are a number of fruit compartments or segments arranged like a wheel. Each fruit contains a few, or upto 500, large starchy edible seeds, which are sometimes called breadnuts, although the true breadnut belongs to a different species. It is the chempedak that is usually the source of the true “breadnuts”. When the fruits are cut crosswise, the individual segments are easier to remove. The fibrous covering can then be carefully peeled from each segment to expose the smooth yellow flesh. The seeds are then removed from each segment.
As the fruit ripens, it is often covered with a bag - not to keep birds away but to encourage ants to swarm around it to repel other insects. When ripe, the jackfruit is used as a fruit; but if picked “green”, it is used as a vegetable. The flesh may be diced or dried and used in soups or in pickles. The seeds are very rich in calcium and protein; but the fruit itself is not very nutrient rich, although it does contain some carotene. In Thailand, the seeds, which are called med kha-nun, are boiled in several changes of water and roasted, then eaten like chestnuts. They can also be pounded into flour. The young shoots and flowers are sometimes eaten as a vegetable. The pulp is firm, thick, and sweet and will continue to ripen even after it is peeled. If the bulbs are boiled in milk and then drained and cooled, the congealed mass that is left forms a pleasant orange-coloured custard. The flesh is sometimes candied by the Chinese and Malaysians.
The jackfruit is very large in size - about 30 to 40 inches in length and 12 to 20 inches in diameter. Only about 30% of the fruit is edible. The fruit has a green to brownish yellow rind and it has numerous small spines in its skin. Edible, very tasty, sweet yellow bulbs are embedded in fibrous interior. It has one and a half to two inch long and 3/4 inch thick seeds.

Courtesy dailyfruits.blogspot.com

FACT BOX

Nutritional Value
Very good source of potassium and vitamin C.
Health Benefits
Jackfruit is rich in potassium which may help to regulate blood pressure.
Varieties
India is the leading jackfruit producing nation. Black Gold(Australia) Cheena (Australia), Cochin (Australia), Dang Rasimi (Thailand), Gold Nugget (Australia), J-30 (Malaysia) and J-31 (Malaysia) are some cultivars available in the US.
Botanical Facts
Jackfruit is an evergreen, 30 to 70 ft tall tree. Humid tropical and near tropical climates are well suited for jackfruit.
Select and Store
Ripe jackfruits are very fragrant. The fruit colour changes from green to yellowish brown when ripe. To remove fruit bulbs, apply cooking oil on hands and utensils to free from gummy latex.

>>> >Make a reality of SAARC

Make a reality of SAARC

By K. Godage

www.nation.lk

The 15th SAARC Summit is taking on the proportions of an MGM production. Let us all hope that President Rajapaksa and his advisors undertake a reality check and use this opportunity for him to go down in history as the SAARC Chairman who transformed the organisation from a pious talk shop that does not comply with conventions and agreements, creating an organisation which has meaning for the people of South Asia, as was conceived at its inception.

It was way back in 1980 that the idea of regional cooperation between the countries of South Asia was conceived. Thereafter, in 1981, consultations were held in Colombo by the foreign secretaries of the seven countries. This meeting was followed by the first meeting of foreign ministers, who met in Delhi in 1983 and adopted the Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

SAARC Charter
They also launched the Integrated Programme of Action, which covered five areas for cooperation. The five areas for cooperation they agreed upon were agriculture, health, meteorology, telecommunications and rural development. The first meeting at heads of state level was held in December 1985.

It was at this summit that the SAARC Charter was formally adopted. Twenty-two years have elapsed since then and 14 times, the heads of state have met and it is perhaps pertinent to even briefly examine what has been achieved in terms of the objectives the leaders set for themselves and for SAARC.

The principal objectives they set for themselves and for SAARC were as follows:
1. To promote economic, social and cultural development of our peoples and to improve the quality of their lives.
2. To promote collaboration in economic, social, cultural technical and scientific fields.
3. To promote mutual trust and understanding among the peoples of South Asia.
4. To promote collaboration among themselves in international forums in matters of common interest.
5. To promote and strengthen collective self reliance among the countries of South Asia.
It had also been decided that all SAARC decisions be arrived at by consensus and, most important of all, that bilateral and contentious issues would be excluded from the deliberations of SAARC.

Institutional set-up

The institutional set-up established (no doubt the work of the foreign secretaries) could not have been bettered. It was comprehensive in terms of achieving the goals the leaders had set for our countries. They were as follows:
The highest authority of the association would rest with the heads of state, as with ASEAN and the EU. There was to be a Council of Ministers who would be responsible for the formulation of policies, reviewing progress and deciding on new areas of progress. The Council was expected to meet twice a year.

The next important institution was to be the Standing Committee, comprising foreign secretaries of the member states. Their responsibility was to monitor and coordinate programmes. It was to meet as often as was deemed necessary and to report to the Council of Ministers.

Seven Technical Committees were also established in terms of the work involved with regard to the ‘Integrated Programme of Action,’ which was launched at the first meeting of the foreign ministers, which was held in Delhi in 1983. It was also decided to establish the following Regional Centres, with each such centre to be managed by a Governing Board;
1. Regional Agricultural Information Centre
2. SAARC Documentation Centre
3. SAARC Human Resources Development Centre
4. SAARC Tuberculosis Prevention Centre
5. SAARCC Meteorological Research Centre

All important committee

An all important committee to institutionalise regional economic cooperation was established. This Committee on Economic Cooperation was to comprise of the secretaries of commerce and trade of the member states. The task of this Committee was to strengthen and enhance inter-governmental cooperation in the fields of trade and economic relations.

From this Committee emerged the SAARC Preferential Trade initiative, or the SAPTA. The framework agreement was signed at the Dhaka Summit and came into operation in 1983. I am reliably informed that hardly any worthwhile progress has been made due to the huge differences in the levels of economic and industrial development of the member states.

Despite the lack of progress in SAPTA it was decided at the 10th summit in Colombo in 1998 to set up a committee to draft a comprehensive treaty to create a free trade area within the region. Quite ambitious indeed!

It has also been proposed by the Standing Committee to adopt an Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investment in the region, a most laudable initiative to promote confidence, which is vital if foreign direct investment of any significant magnitude is to take place.

Valuable initiatives

A number of other similar valuable initiatives we also taken, such as the need to support the enhancement of the financial systems of SAARC countries through building institutional capacity and the need to establish a network of researchers on global, financial and economic issues and developments, to help analyse and assist member states of SAARC to face global financial and economic developments.

If this network is indeed functioning, it should prove a boon to the member states. That would be one of the few positive achievements of SAARC. The only other two initiatives worthy of mention to my mind are the Social Charter and the Poverty Alleviation project.

It had been decided at the 10th Summit held in Colombo to establish a ‘Social Charter’ for the SAARC countries to accelerate social progress and promote active collaboration among member states. The securing of the rights of women and children has been the foremost consideration and has received the highest priority.

Much useful work appears to have been done by Technical Committee on ‘Women in Development.’ The Committee has been concerned with the trafficking of women and children within and between countries and member countries have signed a Regional Convention on Combating the Crime of Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution when they met at Kathmandu in January 2002, but as to whether domestic legislation has been enacted by all member states in line with this Convention is not known.

Though the development and well-being of children within our countries has been considered a priority area for SAARC and has been on the agenda at a number of ministerial meetings and an MoU has been signed with UNICEF, it is doubtful as to whether our countries have been implementing the decision of the ministers or acting in terms of the MoU.

Elimination of poverty

The other important SAARC initiative was one championed by President Premadasa, at the sixth SAARC Summit in Colombo in 1991, namely the elimination of poverty. It had been decided to establish an independent South Asia Commission on Poverty Alleviation.

The Summits that followed welcomed the initiative and expressed their commitment to eradicate poverty in South Asia through an agenda of action which would include a strategy for social mobilisation, a policy of decentralised agricultural development, village awakening (Gam Udawa), small-scale labour intensive industrialisation and last but not least, human development.

After the passing away of President Premadasa, it appeared that only lip service was being paid to the programme by member states; the Poverty Alleviation programme is now apparently being implemented by the UNDP. Any national poverty alleviation programmes don’t appear to be in operation.

SAARC has also a number of agreements which our countries have entered into but as to whether these agreements have had impact on the peoples of our countries is another matter; among them is the Food Security Reserve.

It was decided to establish the Food Security Reserve in 1987 and agreements were signed but I doubt whether it is in existence today. The Regional Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism was signed in 1987 and has been ratified by all member states but as to whether the member states are abiding by its commitments is another matter.

Meanwhile, I understand that a ‘Comprehensive Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism’ is being contemplated! There is also a Convention on Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and the Conventions referred to earlier, relating to women and children. All this is, no doubt, an impressive record on paper but as to whether these Conventions are being implemented is another matter.

Talk shop?

The question today is whether SAARC is a mere talk shop which has provided officials, ministers and heads of state an opportunity to gather every year and exchange pleasantries. After 22 and 14 Summits, I do believe the peoples of our countries have a right to demand an audit and take remedial action to make the regional association meaningful to the people.

It has been pointed out by no less a person than our present President that the asymmetry within SAARC has not been helpful. President Rajapaksa’s description of South Asia was as follows: “A region of contrasts with significant disparities in gross domestic product, income levels, national resources and population.”

Yes, India’s towering presence is seen by some countries as a threat, but then as Professor G.L. Peiris recently stated, India can do nothing about its size, resources and population. He stated that this should be seen more as an opportunity than a threat.
Most unfortunately, this threat perception exists in the minds of many as would be seen from recent statements by the JVP, which has accused India of seeking to make Lanka a state of India. There is nothing that can be done about that, other than perhaps for India to include the Gujral Doctrine in its constitution.

The Gujral Doctrine

For the sake of record, permit me to set out the five cardinal principles of the Gujral Doctrine. In the words of Gujral himself, “India does not seek reciprocity but gives all that it can in good faith and trust. Second, no South Asian country should allow the use of its territory against the interest of a fellow country in the region. Third, that all of us in South Asia must respect each others’ territorial integrity and sovereignty. And finally, we should settle all disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations.”

These were the five principles of the Gujral Doctrine. As he himself stated, “These five principles, if scrupulously adhered to, are bound to achieve a fundamental recasting of the regional relationships, including, I venture to state, a radical change in the tormented relationship between India and Pakistan, in a friendly and cooperative mould.”

Most unfortunately for the countries of South Asia, this doctrine was abandoned after Gujral left office. I venture to state that had the Gujral principles been followed by India, SAARC would have today been more than a reality, for India would then never have been perceived as a threat, but as an opportunity.
Considering SAARC’s tremendous potential, India, which is bigger in every respect than the rest of us put together, has indeed a role and a responsibility to move SAARC forward.

From the record set out above, it would be seen that though SAARC has an impressive record of ‘achievements’ on paper, it has had little impact on the people of South Asian countries, unlike ASEAN or the EU.

Lack of progress

The lack of any serious commitment to cooperate, even on the vital issue of terrorism, despite the much touted SAARC Convention on Terrorism, arms smuggling, the narcotics trade, human smuggling, and money laundering is evidence of a lack of real progress.

My colleague Ambassador Rodrigo has in a speech recently referred to the fact that South Asia as a region cannot develop in isolation, particularly in a globalised world. As a regional grouping, we need not only to endeavour to reach common positions on global issues commonly affecting us, but also to reach out and open up to the rest of Asia and the world beyond.

Therefore, inviting countries such as Japan, China, the US and the EU as Observers is indeed a step in the right direction. Let us hope that at least these ‘Observer Countries’ would be able to assist us to make a reality of regional cooperation and make a success of SAARC.



------------- http://www.nation.lk/2008/07/27/newsfe3.htm

“The Anaconda of Ceylon”: Derivations and the myths

“The Anaconda of Ceylon”: Derivations and the myths

By Richard Boyle
-- The Sunday Times

Since the birth of the 20 anacondas at the Dehiwela Zoo there has been an extraordinary flow of newspaper reports on the subject. With it has come references to the possible derivation of the name anaconda from the Sinhala henakandaya — garnered from Webster’s and elsewhere - but no proper explanation.

Readers with good memories may remember I wrote an extended article on the subject published in The Sunday Times of June 25, and July 2 & 9, 2000, and those who possess my book Sindbad in Serendib (2008) will have access to that article in chapter-form. The first reference to the name anaconda in English is by R. Edwin (probably a pseudonym) in a letter to the Scots magazine concerning an encounter with a tiger-devouring serpent in then Dutch-held Ceylon. This was published in the 1768 issue under the discursive heading, “Description of the ANACONDA, a monstrous species of serpent. In a letter from an English gentleman, many years resident in the island of Ceylon, in the East Indies.” (See Sindbad in Serendib for the contents of this fascinating letter.)

The adult Anaconda who recently gave birth to 20 anacondas at the Dehiwela Zoo. Pic by Sanka Vidanagama

The incident recounted, which occurs on the outskirts of Colombo, is a figment of the imagination, full of the popular misconceptions regarding constrictors in an age of limited scientific knowledge of snakes.

There is, for instance, the supposed ability to hang from high branches by the tail, first disseminated by Pliny many centuries earlier when describing African pythons.

Then there is the anchorage of the tail to the trunk of a tree during constriction and eating. Many writers of the time state such anchorage is a prerequisite for constriction or consumption of prey. This is not generally the case, although I’m told pythons occasionally exhibit such behaviour.

Edwin’s most imaginative description is how the snake drags the tiger to a tree and then proceeds to wind itself round both its victim and the tree in order to crush the victim’s bones. The loud cracking of bones during constriction is another common misconception, along with the slavering and vacuuming mentioned.

Its veracity accepted, Edwin’s account became popular after 1768. Thus the myth of the Anaconda of Ceylon evolved. The 1796 Encyclopaedia Britannica based its entry concerning the anaconda on the account. In 1808 it was reprinted, without crediting Edwin, in the Lady’s Museum Monthly as “An Account of the Anocondo, a Monstrous Serpent in the East Indies, and of the Manner of its Seizing and Managing its Prey”. It was also turned into a short story, “The Anaconda”, by ‘Monk’ Lewis, in Romantic Tales (1808).

That the myth of the Anaconda of Ceylon had taken firm root is evident from the works of early and mid-nineteenth century English writers. Robert Percival remarks in An Account of the Island of Ceylon (1803): “I had heard many stories of a monstrous snake, so vast in size as to be able to devour tigers and buffaloes, and so daring as even to attack the elephant. I made every inquiry on the spot concerning this terrible animal, but not one of the natives had ever heard of the monster. Probably these fantastic stories took their rise from an exaggerated account of the rock-snake (python).”

James Emerson Tennent writes in Ceylon (1859) of “the great Python, which is supposed to crush the bones of the elephant, and to swallow the tiger”. (The use of the name tiger in relation to Sri Lanka is not in error, for prior to the late-nineteenth century the country’s larger cat species were referred to by this name.)

These authors probably knew of Edwin’s account. Others mention the name anaconda in relation to the python. J.W. Bennett, in Ceylon and its Capabilities (1843), gives a list of the Sinhala names of thirty-one snakes found in the island, number twelve being “the Pimbera and Anaconda”. He adds: “The Pimbera or rock snake, is said to be the Anaconda or Anacondia of ancient writers.” (Pimbura is the Sinhala for python, from pimb-, to hiss or blow.)

Henry Charles Sirr notes in Ceylon and the Cingalese (1850): “The largest of the serpent tribe in Ceylon is the anaconda (belonging to the genus Python) and is far from being uncommon in the island.”
These accounts suggest the Anaconda of Ceylon is nothing other than the python. It will be recalled, though, that many dictionaries advance the hypothesis that it is a snake called the henakandaya from whose Sinhala name anaconda is derived.

But physically the henakandaya is in complete contrast to the anaconda. It is the colloquial name given to the Brown Vine Snake (Ahaetulla pulverulenta), which grows to a maximum length of five feet and has a very slender body, large eyes, and long snout. An arboreal species, it eats lizards, frogs, toads and similar prey.

According to P.E.P. Deraniyagala in A Coloured Atlas of Some of the Vertebrates From Ceylon, Volume Three (1955): “Although the Brown Speckled Whip-snake (Brown Vine Snake) is only mildly venomous, its bite is believed by the Sinhalese to be so virulent that it paralyses victims and causes them to wither up as if struck by lightning.” Hence this snake is known as the henakandaya - a compound of the Sinhala for “lightning” and “stem” or “trunk” (-ya being the masculine nominal termination). Some suggest that “thunderbolt snake” is a fair translation.

The most comprehensive entry regarding anaconda is not, as might be expected, in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) or Webster’s. Instead it can be found in the little-known Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases (1886). The compilers, Henry Yule and A.C. Burnell, carried out the initial investigation into the derivation of anaconda. Indeed, most dictionary derivations of the word, especially the one in the OED, have relied almost exclusively on their findings.

The opening sentence of the entry for anaconda in Hobson-Jobson sets the tone of any inquiry into the word’s history. “This word is of very obscure origin,” the compilers caution readers.

Originally, they supposed the name to be of South American origin. However, a trawl through antiquarian books drew a blank. In South America, with its multifarious languages and dialects, there are many names for the anaconda, the main being sucuriu or sucuriuba.

Having disposed of the idea of a South American derivation, Yule and Burnell reveal: “The oldest authority that we have met with, the famous John Ray (referred to as the father of English natural history) distinctly assigns the name, and the serpent to which the name properly belonged, to Ceylon. This occurs in his Synopsis Methodica Animalium Quadrupedum et Serpentini Generis (1693). In this he gives a Catalogue of Indian Serpents from the Leyden Museum (Holland).”

The catalogue was transcribed at Leyden by a physician, and Ray reports that No.8 on the list reads in Latin: “Anacondaia Zeylonensibus, id est Bubalorum aliorumque jumentorum membra conterens” - “the anacondaia of the Ceylonese, i.e. he that crushes the limbs of buffaloes and yoke beasts”).

Having found no discernible Sinhala connection, Yule and Burnell suggested a Tamil interpretation, “anai-kondra (anaik-konda), ‘which killed an elephant’”. As already discovered, both Percival (1803) and Tennent (1859) claim that pythons overcome not only tigers and buffaloes but elephants as well. Furthermore, in the adventures of Sindbad the Sailor, the King of Serendib entrusts Sindbad with the task of conveying, among other things, an enormous snakeskin of “the serpent that swalloweth the elephant” to the Caliph of Baghdad.

During their research, Yule and Burnell discovered that Edwin’s account contained the earliest reference to the word in English. In their entry they put forward a convincing argument regarding the origins of Edwin’s account: “The whole thing is very cleverly told, but it is evidently a romance founded on the description by D. Cleyerus (of a Reticulated Python of the Dutch East Indies) which is quoted by Ray.”
Indeed, Edwin’s description of the snake’s method of constriction is almost identical to Cleyerus’: “How, if the resistance is great, the victim is dragged to a tree, and compressed against it; how the noise of the crushing bones is heard as far as a cannon: how the crushed carcass is covered with saliva, etc.”
Yule and Burnell believed that Edwin was a Dutch surgeon serving in the Royal Navy and that he was also responsible for another such yarn concerning the poisonous Upas tree of Java.

It was Donald Ferguson, the Ceylon-based antiquarian researcher, who suggested anaconda was derived from henakandaya. His hypothesis is contained in the Oxford-based Notes and Queries, August 14, 1897, headed “The Derivation of ‘Anaconda’”.

In Leyden Museum catalogues of 1697 and 1698 Ferguson found three titles:

Hoenacandaja/Hanacandaja/Henacandaja Zeylonensibus”. He comments: “It is evident that the form anacondaia is due to an error” (in transcription by Ray’s helper: a classic example of how research can become derailed). “With the restoration of the initial h, and the correction of hoena- and hana- to hena-, the origin of the word is at once revealed. It is simply henakandaya, the Sinhalese name for the whip-snake (brown vine snake).”

The last piece of the puzzle, why the colloquial name for a small vine snake of Sri Lanka was transferred to a large constrictor of South America, is provided by the OED entry. This is the revelation that the French naturalist, Fran├žois-Marie Daudin, appears to have either wrongly identified a specimen or its source. In naming the large South American water snake Boa anaconda, it seems that he, rather than the Portuguese, was responsible for the transportation of the name across continents during the early years of the nineteenth century.

Richard Boyle is the Sri Lankan English consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary

Mars lander has trouble getting sample in oven

Mars lander has trouble getting sample in oven


PASADENA, Calif. - A sample of icy soil collected by the robotic arm of NASA's Phoenix Mars lander is apparently stuck in its scoop, foiling efforts to analyze it.

The arm picked up 3 cubic centimeters of material Friday night and lifted it over an oven designed to heat samples for analysis, mission officials said Saturday. The arm tilted its scoop, ran a tool motor to try to sprinkle the sample into the oven, and finally inverted the scoop directly over the oven's open doors.

This image taken July 15, 2008 by the Surface Stereo Imager on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander and released by NASA July 16 shows two holes at the top created by the lander's Robotic Arm's motorized rasp tool. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University/Handout.  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Reuters Photo: This image taken July 15, 2008 by the Surface Stereo Imager on NASA's Phoenix Mars...

But the science instrument, called the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, detected that not enough material fell inside and so the oven doors did not close.

The lander then transmitted images Saturday morning showing soil stuck in the scoop.

"We believe that the material that was intended for the targeted cell is the material that adhered to the back of the scoop," Phoenix project manager Barry Goldstein, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said in a statement.

A short-circuit occurred weeks ago when shaking was used to try to get a previous sample into another of Phoenix's eight tiny test ovens and there had been concern that the vibrating action might cause a short-circuit again this time, but that did not occur.

"The good news here is TEGA is functioning nominally, and we will adjust our sample drop-off strategy to run this again," Goldstein said.

Mission officials planned to command the lander to take pictures on Sunday to determine if any more of the soil fell out of the scoop later on.

Saturday marked the lander's 60th Martian day, known as a sol, on the Red Planet's northern arctic plain.

The $420 million mission hopes to find out whether the icy Martian soil contains the chemical ingredients necessary for life. The results from the heating test that was carried out several weeks ago showed water vapor and carbon dioxide, but no signs of carbon.

JPL is managing the Phoenix Mars project. The mission is being led by chief scientist Peter Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

___

On the Net:

http://www.nasa.gov/phoenix

http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu

Bill Gates: Leaves Microsoft

Bill Gates: Leaves Microsoft

Bill Gates
Bill Gates: Leaves Microsoft

Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, who is the harbinger of new phase of software industry, has spent his last day at office on Friday.

Paul Allen, who teamed up with Gates to start Microsoft in a garage in the year 1975, is amongst those who has bestowed special honor to his childhood friend at a gala dinner party.

After decades of devoting time to Microsoft, Bill Gates has taken the decision of turning his attention on a full time basis to the philanthropic ‘Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’ that he has established along with his wife.

More news about Bill Gates has been inferred from quite a number of sources. According to them, he is leaving Microsoft in order to fight with a ‘fast-changing’ computer era. Also he wants to remain aloof from the growing challenges from Internet juggernaut Google and also longtime rival Apple that make Macintosh computers. .

3 people will essentially fill the void that Bill Gates is going to leave behind at Microsoft.

Gate's job as chief software architect is being handled by Ray Ozzie.

Craig Mundie inherited Gate's chief research and strategy officer duties, while Steve Ballmer is CEO at the software colossus that is based on Redmond, Washington.

Bill Gates continues to hold the post of chairman of the Microsoft board of directors and its largest shareholder.

Bill Gates is leaving Microsoft at a crucial juncture when "cloud computing" is shaking the packaged software foundation on which the whole of prosperity and fortune are dependant.

Cloud computing refers to a trend in which firms like ‘Google and Salesforce.com’ are giving opportunities to all the people to use programs on the internet instead of installing and maintaining software on their own machines.

Competition between two companies like Microsoft and Apple is quite common in Silicon Valley. The culture-shifting popularity of Apple's iPods and iPhones is credited with rising interest of the people for the Macintosh machines.

In order to compete with Apple's market-dominating iPods Bill Gates’ Microsoft have started selling of Zune brand MP3 players in the month of September 2006. However the devices have lost popularity.

Microsoft has failed in a recent bid to buy ‘Yahoo’ for almost fifty billion dollars in order to combine online resources to remain fit to fight out the competition with Google in the blooming internet search and advertising.

Microsoft’s server and tools division along with its entertainment unit, that sells Xbox videogame consoles and gaming software, turns out to be quite profitable.

Bill Gates is expected to maintain the ears of Microsoft leaders. He conferred upon them a legacy that includes focusing in-house teams on what Bill Gates expects to be major technology trends, such as an "Internet tidal wave."

"At some point the firm has to take the essence of what made Bill Gates successful and make sure that is preserved," said Rob Enderle, the analyst of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley.

How To Change Windows XP Shutdown Dialog Box

How To Change Windows XP Shutdown Dialog Box

Here I am going to tell you that how to customize the default Shutdown Dialog Box in Windows XP.

First let me tell you what is Shutdown Dialog Box. See below :



Lets Start :


Requirements :

1) Resource Hacker
2) Windows XP Installed on your system
3) Images you want to replace


Before starting I would like to tell you that this tutorial needs some basic knowledge about Resource Hacker. Click here to read the post on Resource Hacker.

First download these images that you have to replace with default images.

We have to edit 2 dll files here :

1) Shell32.dll
2) Msgina.dll


Editing Shell32.dll :

Now open Resource Hacker and press Ctrl+O and navigate to C drive >> System32 >> shell32.dll and click on Open.

Navigate to Bitmap >> 14351 >> 1033 and replace this image with gagan1.bmp
Navigate to Bitmap > 14353 >> 1033 and replace this image with gagan2.bmp
Navigate to Bitmap >> 14354 >> 1033 and replace this image with gagan1.bmp
Navigate to Bitmap >> 14355 >> 1033 and replace this image with gagan2.bmp
Navigate to Bitmap >> 14356 >> 1033 and replace this image with gagan3.bmp

Now save your file.

Editing Msgine.dll :

Again press Ctrl+O and navigate to C drive >> System32 >> msgina.dll and click on Open.

Navigate to Bitmap >> 20140 >> 1033 and replace this image with gagan1.bmp
Navigate to Bitmap > 20141 >> 1033 and replace this image with gagan2.bmp
Navigate to Bitmap >> 20142 >> 1033 and replace this image with gagan1.bmp
Navigate to Bitmap >> 20143 >> 1033 and replace this image with gagan2.bmp
Navigate to Bitmap >> 20100 >> 1033 and replace this image with gagan4.bmp


Now save your file.

And when you will click on Shutdown button, the dialog box will look like this :



So hows the new look ?? Do reply !

Load XP on a Vista Computer!

Load XP on a Vista Computer!

Virtual PC

Contrary to popular belief you can load xp on your new vista machine. Microsoft allows you to do this through emulation software. If you were to reformat then there is always the question of whether the drivers will load on the xp machine. This is because the hardware manufactures do not always create drivers for the xp software. More times than not if you were to do the traditional thing and reformat then you would have more problems than not.

Microsoft has created something to combat this problem. This solution is called Virtual PC. This allows you to basically use your vista machine as a host for almost any microsoft operating system. In simple terms it creates a pocket and fakes out the pc to think that it is rebooting and loading vista. So, the way it works is that you turn on your vista machine, click on the virtual pc icon, then click on whatever you name the xp emulator. Then a couple of hot keys and your screen changes over to show your familar xp window. This also means that the programs that are not compatable with your windows vista machine are now usable again on the xp emulated machine! Upon exiting you have the choice to save all the changes that you make within the operating system or delete the changes. So if you want to go into xp and see how a program reacts, but don’t want to necessarly keep it this option will allow that. This will also keep you from having to reformat due to viruses. If you obtain a virus while inside the emulator you just need to do is check the box ”do not save changes” then that virus is no more.

You can download it yourself at Microsoft’s Virtual Pc.

----------Link

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Indian army to help prevent rhino poaching

Indian army to help prevent rhino poaching


GAUHATI, India - Authorities in northeastern India have asked the army to help protect endangered one-horned rhinoceroses from poachers and have made the soldiers honorary wildlife wardens, officials said Saturday.

"The army will now assist the authorities at the Kaziranga National Park in protecting the rhino," park director S.N. Buragohain told The Associated Press.

The soldiers will live in tents in the park, he said.

The 267 square mile park, about 135 miles east of Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, is home to more than 1,800 of the world's estimated 3,000 one-horned rhinoceroses.

Poachers killed about 20 rhinos in the park last year and six have been killed so far this year.

"The army's presence is expected to keep poachers away. This is good news for us," Buragohain said.

Soldiers have also been asked to be part of anti-poaching drives in at least six other national parks and sanctuaries in the state.

Gangs of armed poachers kill rhinos for their horns, which many believe have aphrodisiac qualities and are used in medicines in parts of South and Southeast Asia.

Rhino horns are also popular in the Middle East, where they are fashioned into handles for ornamental daggers.

Authorities in Assam earlier deployed lightly armed forest guards in Kaziranga who were unable to stop the poaching.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Great Cricketer With Real Buddhist Mind !

Sidath Wettimuny:

The Great Cricketer With Real Buddhist Mind !

Music and sport, a winning combination

Sharmini talks about life with veteran cricketer Sidath Wettimuny:


lakmal@sundayobserver.lk

Cricket and Symphony Orchestra, a blend of two extremes, has been `rhyming well in the field’ for the past 20 years for Sidath and Sharmini Wettimuny who have a lot to talk about.


Pix:Chinthaka Kumarasinghe

Sidath, one time Romeo or the dream suitor of many young

princesses both the Cricket lovers as well as non-lovers, has been steady with his love for Sharmini. “After a seven year affair we got married on June 4 in 1988,” says Sharmini beginning her life story with Sidath.

“I’ve heard about him a lot from my friends. Though I was also a Cricket fan, I had a little interest in him as a cricketer when I as a teenager,” she continues.

Sharmini Tara de Silva was born on November 1 in 1961 to Charitha Prasanna de Silva, a top pioneer figure in the business management in Sri Lanka and Shusheela Paul at Nawala.

“I was the middle among two brothers. My parents led a wonderful married life and gave us a lot of comfort, love, security and happiness. My mother was a Masters graduate of Smith College, USA, and taught earlier. She sacrificed her job in order to give us, her children the fullest attention which was followed by me as well, when I quit my Banking job after my son’s birth,” she smiles.

Sharmini’s father who was honoured with `Deshamanya’ recently has rendered an immense service to the country by being the pioneer to introduce many new business ventures. He was the Chairman of Aitken Spence group for many years, and pioneered the leasing business by forming LOLC.

His service was appreciated by the Japanese government who honoured him with the `Order of the Rising Sun’ - Gold and Silver stars from Emperor Hirohito in 1998, the highest honour given to any foreigner. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl were the other foreign recipients who received this honour that year.

“And my father was the only Asian who received this that year and has been the only Sri Lankan to receive it so far,” says Sharmini proudly.

Question:You seem to be really proud of your father?

Sharmini: Why not? I grew up with him as my role model.

Sharmini had her education at Ladies’ College, Colombo and was one of the brightest stars in the school. She was the Head Prefect and House Captain in 1980.

The same year she was the Leader of the Choir and Leader of the Debating Society. Except Cricket, Sharmini did many other sports including Tennis and Swimming. “We hadn’t heard of women cricket at that time,” she laughs.

Sharmini was a much involved and active student at school. Music was her forte though she excelled in the Maths and Economic stream. Following her mother’s footsteps, Sharmini entered Smith College, Massachusetts, USA and graduated in Magna Cum Laude degree.

“There too I was involved in the university Choir. My stay at Smith College was memorable as those three and half years were really enjoyable. The course was four years, and we were allowed to do one year of it in an university in UK. So, I entered University College, London, and did my third year where I also got the opportunity to take part in an operetta - `Gwendoline’ by Chabriere,” she recalls.

Sharmini returned to Sri Lanka in 1984, and commenced work at Citibank N.A. as the first female Sri Lankan Executive Officer in which she handled and headed many responsible sections while getting training in Singapore, India, Philippines and Malaysia on Financial Institution and other banking affairs. Sharmini was the first Sri Lankan Citibanker to be sent to New York for training at the Citibank Centre in 1986.

Question:After holding that sort of lucrative post with many of such rare opportunities, how did you feel when you quitted it?

Sharmini: Hmm... I had everything to the fullest. I saw how my Mom sacrificed her job for us. And it was my turn to take the same decision. I wanted to be a good mother to my children.

Since 2006, Sharmini has been the (Honorary) Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka, the only Orchestra that performs regularly in this whole SAARC region.

“There are 300 permanent members of Sri Lanka. We do a lot for the prevalence of the Western classical music. We all perform with love for music and not for money. We are trying to publicise it among schoolchildren within suburbs and outstations as well. Our next concert, `Young Soloist’ will be held at Ladies College in August,” she says.

In addition Sharmini was the Choir Director (Honorary) from 1998 to 2000, and accompanist for the Ladies’ College Choir.

Question:Your meeting with him?

Sharmini: Interesting...(laughs)

Sidath Wettimuny was born on August 12 in 1956 as the fourth of five boys to Ramsay Gregory de silva Wettimuny, (Wettimuny Senior) Mechanical Engineer cum a Buddhist Scholar and Indrani de Silva at Park Road, Colombo. Sunil, Mitra, Ranjan, Sidath and Nimal, the five sons of Wettimuny family marked Sri Lankan history in many ways.

Except Ranjan all the others played Cricket, and among them Sunil, Mitra and Sidath were Opening Batsmen for Sri Lanka while Nimal was restricted to Club Cricket. Sunil chose his career as a pilot while the other brothers got involved in the lucrative garment industry.

Sidath’s father who was an enthusiastic cricketer encouraged his sons a lot in taking up with sports, though he didn’t live to see his sons excellent performances. Sidath was 17 years when his father passed away. Wettimuny Senior was the engineer who constructed the train for the foreign film `Bridge over the river Kwai’ shot here at Kithulgala in 1960s.

He was a learned figure who had a versatile knowledge of all the religions and philosophies. He wrote many books introducing the relationship between Science and Buddhism. Seated at his father’s feet Sidath was used to listen to his long Dhamma discussions with his learned colleagues since he was a small boy.

Ananda College, Colombo taught Sidath Cricket and gave the Buddhist background and discipline. He did his A/Ls in the Commerce stream, but opted to a career as a professional Cricketer. He first represented his school, at the age of 10 and held the captaincy for Ananda College in 1975.

He won the All Island Best Batsman of the Year Award (school cricket) in 1974-75. Sidath represented Sri Lanka in Cricket from 1977 to 1987. Some of his cricketing highlights are that he scored the first test century for Sri Lanka in Faisalabad, Pakistan in 1982, scoring 157.

He was the first Sri Lankan to carry his bat through in both a Test match in New Zealand, and a One Day International in Sri Lanka against England. His highest Test score of 190 is a record even today, as the highest score made by a batsman in his country’s first Test appearance at Lords, the Mecca of Cricket.

He was also the first Sri Lankan to be named Wisden Cricketer for the Year in 1984-1985. His highest First Class score was 227 not out for Sri Lanka against India in 1987. Sidath was honoured by the Jaycees in 1985 as one of the Ten Top personalities of the Year. No doubt about that as it was stated above, he was one of the most adored dream princes who stole many hearts.

Sidath has served on three past Interim Committees for Cricket and he held the membership at the ICC Cricket Committee and ICC Board representing Sri Lanka. He has been both a selector and Chairman of Selectors for Cricket and an ICC Match Referee after retiring from Cricket. He was made an Honorary Life Member of two of the most prestigious cricket clubs in the world - the MCC in London the Cricket Club of India in Bombay, for his past cricketing achievements.

Sidath is currently the President of the Sri Lanka Cricketers Association and a member of the current Interim Committee at Sri Lanka Cricket.

Question:That was all about him. Why not reveal your romance with him?

Sharmini: I first heard about him when I was attending Oosha’s class of ballet. I was about 13 years then. It was just some information. But, I first met him at the Grindlay’s Bank Manager’s place at Queen’s Road in 1977. My father was invited attend to this function where both England and Sri Lankan Cricket teams were also graced.

Though the invitation was for my parents, I jumped to the idea as I was a Cricket fanatic at that time, but didn’t have any `enthusiastic hero’ as such in my mind. So, my mother `donated’ her invitation to me(laughs). I attended to it with my father, and Sidath was introduced to me there for the first time.

Question:What was your first impression about him?

Sharmini: Hmmm.... he was handsome and looking good (laughs). Very impressive, I have to be honest. Also he seemed to be very shy. I just shook hands with him as I did with other Cricketers.

Question:Your second meeting?

Sharmini: Oh! you need all that (laughs)? Well we were residing at Nawala, we had an informal friends’ club called `Nawala Lane Friends’ which included all our playmates residing at the lane we stayed. Thushantha has been a mutual friend of mine since I was a kid.

His birthday falls on November 4. He and Sidath were schoolmates at Ananda. So, both Sidath and I were invited to his birthday party, and it was the second time I met him. We introduced ourselves and started to talk. Sidath had found my phone number and called me after two days.

He was good looking, and I was excited to receive a call from him. So, that was it. I had a very strong interest in Cricket. That was something common between us. We had a month to talk to each other as he had to go to India with his Cricket, and before he returned I flew to USA for my higher studies.

We used to write and phone each other once a week as we didn’t have SMS facilities and Chatting Computer facilities as today’s lovers. All his Cricket money might have been spent on our massive phone bills (laughs).

Question:Both of you have been coming from two different backgrounds. How did it affect your relationship?

Sharmini: It did affect at the beginning. He was from a strong Buddhist background while mine was a devoted Anglican set up. Both were influential families, so that we had to face a lot of obstacles and disturbances. Even Sidath was not sure whether I would fit in with his culture.

However, I would frankly state about his mother who has always been ready to accept me since she first met me. Her love and care played a vital role in the relationship of Sidath and mine. Seven years...(pauses) quite a long time. We don’t regret as we got the opportunity to know each other well. We tied the knot at lavish wedding at Hotel Hilton finally (smiles).

Question:Married life with a famous personality?

Sharmini: Never been problem as we have had good communication skills since the very inception. Thanks to the mobile phone facilities, we are in touch with each other throughout. He is the Vice Chairman of his own family business, the Nobles Group of Companies.

He could spend a lot of time at home as he manages his factory managerial work through the phone. That’s relaxing. Sidath is a person who is very particular about his physical fitness. Very calm and revered personality. He meditates a lot. It was he who taught me the importance of being mindful. He is very special. In his thoughts and actions - he is extraordinary generous. He is very good with people, and maintains an excellent PR with anybody. He rarely holds anything against anybody, and is unusually good. Sidath practises what he believes in wholeheartedly.

Question:Rumours?

Sharmini: I might have been told, but I couldn’t remember anything that bothered me. We have a good understanding. Music is our common subject. I play the piano and he is an excellent singer. In fact he released a VCD of Buddhist songs recently. I practise my religion and he does his. Apart from that we are both involved in charity work a lot.

Both our children are Buddhists. Our son, Sanjay is 18 years now, and is doing a degree in Aviation in New South Wales for a commercial pilot licence. He wants to be a pilot. Sanjay was a Junior National Golf player and represented Sri Lanka junior golf. He played Cricket and swam for the school. Our daughter Shamara is 17 years, and is very versatile. She is extremely good in sports, dancing and singing. She is the current football captain and Prefect of the school. Both my children are at the Colombo International School.

Question:Future plans?

Sharmini: To lead a good life while doing my best to promote the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka.

Origins of the Hela Race

Point of view:From " The Daily News"

Origins of the Hela Race

We, the ‘Sinhala Race’ boast of a proud and civilised society for thousands of years - according to recent findings from the newly excavated ‘stone-inscriptions’ and other archaeological data, our beginning goes well beyond ten-thousands years. And ten-thousand years of civilised people-not stone age ‘barbarians’.

Originally we were known as ‘Hela’ or ‘Helayo’ or ‘Helayan’. This later became to be known as ‘Sivu-Helaya’ as the Helayo comprised four tribes - ‘Raksha’, ‘Yaksha’, ‘Naga’ and ‘Deva’. They were not Iniquitous, Devils, Serpents, Gods, but simply human-beings.

The tribal names would have denoted their habits, behaviour, conduct and ways and means and their respective livelihood. These Helayan or Sivuhelayo were a set of strong, well-built, brave and dare-devil, but very humane lot.


The Ramayana is the story of the Hindu God Vishnu, who comes to earth as the human prince Rama. Vishnu is sent to earth to kill an evil demon named Ravana.

It was the Sivuhelayan who first invented the art (or if we may call it, the science) of writing as amply and aptly proved by the cave inscriptions discovered at Badungala in the Yakkalamulla PS Division in Galle recently.

It is reported and recorded in History that during the ‘Endera Yugaya’ ten thousand or more years ago even wild animals were tamed and domesticated by our people. Similar inscriptions found from Alawwa, Ambilikande and Mawanella recently goes to prove beyond doubt that there lived a set of civilised beings in this country tens of thousands of years ago.

Many important stone and wood inscriptions of ancient eras are now hidden buried deep under the earth or completely covered and engulfed in thick and deep jungles due to natural causes over the years - probably never to be recovered again. But with the emergence of the most powerful, fearless, mighty warrior-King Sri Ravana 4786 years ago, we are claimants of a very old heritage.

The Helayo or Helayan are the direct descendants of Emperor, Sri Rawana who was known as ‘Dasahis’ - meaning ten-heads. Not that he really possessed ten heads, but he conquered and ruled nine regions of South India in addition to Helaya.

He delegated the power to his eight brothers and only sister - ‘Supurnika’ to manage, administer and rule those nine regions whilst he stayed over in Helaya. The Ramayana - though taught to us in school as a fairy tale, is true History.

I remember having read a little booklet in the ‘Fiction’ section of the Jakarta Public Library when I visited same whilst on transit to Thailand in late 70s, the full story of Rama and Seeta.

Powerful

It goes like this. Rawana was a very powerful Emperor whose superiority was unmatched. He was regarded, respected and venerated as a ‘God’ by the people of Hela. After invading and capturing nine regions in South India he got his brothers and only sister to look after those regions.

His only sister Supurnika was a beautiful young lass. Lakshmana, Rama’s brother enchanted by the beauty of Supurnika tried his best to win her over. But Supurnika was never to agree, since she was aware that Lakshmana was having an illicit affair with his Sister-in-Law, Seeta.

One day when Lakshmana approached Supurnika and expressed his love, she spurned him away like dirt. Angered and annoyed, Lakshmana unable to bear the insult, pulled out his Sword and attacked young beautiful Supurnika who managed to jump back and avert the sword striking her head. In the melee, Supurnika’s nose got cut off and she became ugly.

Hearing this news, King Sri Ravana immediately jumped his ‘Dandu Monara Yantraya’ or flying machine and took off to South India. He was deeply angry and looked all over for Rama and Lakshmana.

The latter knowing who Ravana was, hid themselves not be found by their enemy. As a last resort Ravana captured the beautiful Seeta, wife of Rama and took her to Helaya in order to teach Rama and Lakshmana a bitter lesson. From here on the rest of the history, we are aware of.

Hidden

It is said that Ravana kept Seeta hidden in a jungle in Seethawaka in a specially built palace. She was provided with everything she wanted from food, jewellery, clothes, security etc.

Though Ravana visited a number of times to see how Seeta was getting on, even the Ramayana does not say that Ravana made any attempts to molest her or made undue advances towards her. To cut a long story short, it is believed that as is the custom in India, once the husband dies, the wife will have to jump on to his pyre to prove her chastity.

In this instance, when Rama died, Seeta couldn’t do it as she had an affair with her husband’s brother. Hence both Seeta and Lakshmana conspired and on a plan to avoid jumping on to her husband’s pyre.

When the pyre was set on fire, Seeta pretended to jump on to it, but Lakshmana immediately leapt forward and tightly embraced Seeta. She showed a ‘made-up’ anger, scolded Lakshmana and announced that since she had been touched by another male, it was useless for her to jump on to the pyre as she was already impure. And thus the story ended there and nothing has been mentioned about Seeta and Lakshmana thereafter.

It is hard to believe that an animal can never be a God and that too supposed to be a powerful entity. If somebody is to tie a ‘live-fire torch’ on to the tail of a Monkey, it would have perished to ashes before it could jump from one tree to the other.

How could it ever be that ‘Hunumant’, a monkey a (a God Monkey) jump several miles from the South Indian tip to Yapa Patuna and set the whole of the North of this land on fire to rescue Seeta? What a calculated and diabolical lie of history? Are we to believe such myths, lies, fallacies and fabricated yarns?

The myths, fallacies and lies of History have to be cleared. When foreigners - specially the Arabs, the Cholas, the Portuguese who were accidentally drifted to our shores due to Thunder and Strong Sea Winds, were so taken up by the beauty of this land, the hospitality of the smiling people and the enormous resources we possessed felt greedy and decided to invade and capture the Sivu-Helaya which by this time has come to be known as ‘Sinhale’. The white men who could not pronounce the word ‘Sinhale’ correctly, called it ‘Seylan’ which came to stay as a ‘Ceylon’ with the invasion of the Britishers.

Descendant

The story that we, Sinhalese are descendants of the ‘Bandit Prince’ Vijeya is an absolute myth. Vijeya the play-boy cum bandit is no ancestor of the Sinhalese. Sinhala people are direct descendants of ‘Ravana’ and his heritage. Even the advent of ‘Vijeya’ itself is dubious and covered with mysteries.

First he is supposed to be a son of king known as ‘Sinhabahu’ who is said to be an offspring of a Lion born to human woman. This is a biologically impossible phenomenon. Even if some man or woman with a crude sexual desire forcibly had sex with an animal, how on earth can a human be born as a result?

Then this incorrigible Vijeya had been deported by his Father King in order save his Kingdom together with 700 of his followers who had apparently and unfortunately for us, drifted to Tammannar, off Puttalam in Helaya.

The story goes that Vijeya sent several of his followers interior to find out what was up to them and in search of drinking water. As the first set did not return he had sent the others batch by batch, but apparently nobody had come back. What then did actually happened to them, say some 600 odd people?

Last, Vijeya himself went interior to look for his people and that is when he encountered the beautiful princess ‘Quenie’ knitting a dress in cotton. Nothing is said about the nearly 700 of his followers who were lost. What happened - probably vanished in to thin air.

Then thirdly the play-boy Vijeya having fallen for the beauty of ‘Quenie’ married her and had two children. But this ungrateful man deserted both his wife and son and daughter to get married to some woman he got down from India. Why is history silent on Quenie as well her two children? Where were they, what happened to them?

Point four for all what we could think and analyse, the whole story of Vijeya is a total myth, a fallacy, an imaginary illusion of somebody - probably the author of ‘Mahawamsa’. I categorically state that we, the Sinhalese are no descendants of Vijeya or any other Indian origin. We are directly coming from the Sri Ravana clan.

Just because the Mahawamsa says, or simply because some writer wrote so, or because somebody said so, one should not tend to believe all. One must be intelligent enough to logically analyse and try to get at the truth and not blindly follow what somebody says.

Speech

I would like to quote what the Most Venerable Weligama Gnanarathanabidhana Maha Nayake Thera of the Sri Amarapura Nikaya once told a few of us. He asserted distinctly remembering (as a young School boy) the Speech made by Lord Soulberry, independent Ceylon’s first Governor-General when he declared ‘Ceylon’ independent from British Rule on February 4, 1948. It goes like this - ‘You people in Ceylon are an intelligent lot. You should be able manage your affairs yourselves.

You are inheritors of a long and proud history spanning well over 2000 years. 2000 years of a civilised society whereas, we in Europe were still Veddas, Stone-Age people even much later.’ This amply describes the ‘Helayan’.

The Sepala Ekanayake saga

The Sepala Ekanayake saga

I refer to the contribution of Mr. Lalin Fernando (LF), who does not reveal what office he held or the part he played.

The several brief episodes of the story of the hijacker, Sepala Ekanayake, written by Edither Perera, Manel Abeysekera, Daya Gamage and the writer, were of course, based on first-hand experience. They are undoubtedly of immense value to future researchers and historians.

LF has virtually hijacked the Saturday Magazine of 7th June to break into the picture, ostensibly because of its publicity value, to embark on a wayward voyage of heaping praise on some, and in a crude and uncouth manner, unleashing a tirade of invective, particularly on the police, the writer, and the government of the day. Any discerning reader is bound to form the impression that he is a man with a deep seated grievance giving vent to some pent up anger.

I am mature enough not to be provoked by barbs thrown at me, particularly by ignorant mediocrities who sometimes breathe venom out of some sheer frustration. The existence of such men and women provide the grist for the humour that society longs for, particularly in turbulent times.

I have never written in anger. My writings have always been factual, well considered and above all, dignified. In this response to LF I shall endeavour to maintain that tempo. To me, this is by no means difficult as I bear no malice to anyone.

Presumably being a loyal officer and gentleman of the Sri Lanka Army, an organization which at any given time possessed a galaxy of truly eminent and cultured gentleman, it is natural for LF to be all praise for the elite commandos who had been trained and drilled by the KMS to go into instant action without orders from above.

But what was the urgency for commando presence at the KIA when it was known, at least ten hours earlier, that the ‘miserable’ skyjacker was coming to Colombo as a free man on a plane with other passengers, security checked and cleared by the Thai Police and Air Lanka Security. Perhaps a lacuna in the Standing Orders framed by "the best in the world, the British S.A.S." would have led to this fiasco.

If it was a genuine hijack situation, the DIG Metro, under whose purview the police at the Airport, Katunayake & Negombo functioned, would have been the first at the scene to direct operations and even take over command. This was well within his powers and responsibilities as he himself had undergone high level, intensive training in hostage rescue and negotiation procedures - not under the KMS mercenaries - but in the training centres of the prestigious M16, the CIA and the United States Secret Service.

Frankly, I did not know, until I read LF’s article, that the commandos had taken up positions at the Airport that particularly day. A question that comes to my mind is, how is it that these commandos, trained to instantly propel themselves into action, were unable to ‘freefall’ and storm the air bases of Katunayake and Anuradhapura when the enemy held sway over them for hours and succeeded in causing the maximum damage ?

As for the praise lavished on Mrs. Manel Abeysekera and the Foreign Service, I agree with LF without reservation. Having been the co-ordinating superintendent for police operations, with a special secretariat set up in the Times Building, I was fortunate to play a modest role in the Non-Alligned Summit operations.

The task of the Chief of Protocol, Mrs. Abeysekera, was indeed a most onerous one. The admirable manner in which she discharged her responsibilities, looking into the minutest detail, enabled Sri Lanka to win the hearts of all the visiting Heads of State. I still remember how she was personally directing the selection and packing of choice rambuttans, mangosteens and durians (which were plentiful at the time} , to be sent home by Anwar Sadat and Col. Gaddafi. Even today I salute her for this superlative achievement.

All in all it was the wonderful co-ordination of all the related activities by the Foreign Ministry, under the able leadership of the diplomat par excellent and inspiring administrator, Dr. Vernon Mendis, that made the Non-Alligned Summit of 1976 the huge success it was ... easily the high point of the relatively corruption-free regime of Mrs. Bandaranaike.

The Brickbats

I shall now attempt, as briefly as possible, and in a sober and cultured manner, deal with the brickbats hurled venomously at random at different people and institutions by LF. In dealing with his frenzied invective, for the convenience of the reader, I propose to adhere to the same sub-headings used by LF.

Height of Lunacy, etc.

The Police had nothing to do with Sepala Ekanayake’s arrival in Sri Lanka to a hero’s welcome. The successful manner in which he bluffed his way to freedom, and of course the media hungry for sensational news, were perhaps the reasons. The presence of heavily armed commandos, in their imposing uniforms, and the screaming and wailing fire engines and ambulances, would have further boosted his ego and self importance.

EG’s Character Certificate, etc.

True, Sepala Ekanayake held the passengers hostage by merely pretending that he was a human bomb. The demands of this miserable hijacker, who did not identify himself with any terrorist group or organization, were not for the release of any terrorists in custody, the diversion of the aircraft to an airport of his choice or the rescinding of his deportation order. He merely asked for his wife and child and $ 300,000, not for any organization, but for his personal use. Under no stretch of imagination could these be interpreted as the demands of a terrorist.

These demands had been readily given. Having successfully bluffed all concerned at the Bangkok Airport, he would have been laughing all the way to Sri Lanka.

As for the ‘canard’ about Ekanayake’s role in the prison massacre, what I wrote is what I knew. If Col. Sunil Peiris knew the real truth, he should have informed the police investigators. But it would have been embarrassing for him because it was the Army and not the police that was responsible for the security of the prisons at the time of the brutal massacre. The officers detailed for security had been passive onlookers saying that they had orders only to prevent an ‘invasion’ of the prison from outside! Had these elite soldiers, presumably commanded by Co. Sunil Peiris, acted under the law of private defence enjoyed by every citizen, the prison massacre, which brought so much discredit to the country, could have been averted.

The "well documented" police record of violence and drug dealings of Sepala Ekanayake, prior to the skyjacking, was never intimated to the Sri Lanka Police by Mrs. Abeysekera - not even by Interpol with which the Police are constantly linked. Interestingly, Mrs. Abeysekera makes no mention of this document in her article. Nor has LF indicated what role he played to be privy to such a document.

DIG Awaits Complaint to act

What is wrong with the Foreign Minister summoning the DIG Metro and not the IGP? It merely shows the confidence that the Foreign Minister, as well as the IGP, had in the DIGs. Even the Minister and his officials present were agreed that it was unwise to act on hearsay and press reports. Neither the Thai Police nor Mrs. Abeysekera had informed the Sri Lanka authorities that the money that Ekanayake was bringing had been obtained under duress. If so, the money could have been treated as ‘stolen property’ and Ekanayake booked immediately for retention of stolen property, a cognizable offence.

I still maintain that I did the correct thing by getting a written complaint from the Italian Ambassador, the representative of the Italian government that owned Alitalia from whom the money had been obtained, as it turned out to be. The police are trained to act with caution and with due regard for the law and to anticipate likely consequences of their actions. Very much unlike commandos, the police are answerable to courts of law.

LF in his references to the assaults on Trade Unionists, Mrs. Vivienne Gunawardena, stoning of the houses of Supreme Court judges, etc., whilst blaming the President of the time, indirectly blames the police. It must be said that by no means did the police condone with such acts. I even went to the extent of apologizing to Mr. Bernard Zoysa and Supreme Court judges, Percy Colin Thorne and Barnes Ratwatte, who were personally known to me, for the ‘unavoidable’ police inaction. L.F. must be living in a world of his own, remote from reality, if he thinks that the police could survive on a collision course with the all powerful President of the country.

LF’s hatred for the Jayawardena regime is justifiable. There were assaults, atrocities and HR violations. But are not such blatant violations of the law taking place today, inspite of the law enforcement machinery being augmented with military assistance? Disappearances, killing of journalists, Ministers storming media institutions, burning of newspaper presses and attacking and destroying houses/business premises even, within-high security zones guarded by the armed services, attacking political protesters and even obstructing parliamentarians from approaching the House, are becoming commonplace violations of the law. I will not rush to blame the President or the police or the armed services for these violations, nor do I want to guess who the culprits are. The fact is that there is little difference between the regimes as regards violations of HR and the rule of law.

To strike a personal note, I would like to refer LF to my novel ‘Blood & Cyanide’ which was launched by no less a person than Dr. Vernon Mendis, if he wishes to know how much love and admiration I had for the J. R. regime.

Chance in a Million

LF goes on to say that the police could have called upon Ekanayake to account for the money and also for holding the passengers hostage in Thailand. At the same time he says that the police failed to do these, probably because the government had made ill advised promises to the hijacker to gain popularity. Unwittingly, he appears to have got closer to the truth!

Maybe the ill advised promises included immunity from arrest, thereby giving him the courage and confidence to strut about like a hero. Without a word of criticism of those who gave the hijacker encouraging promises, LF still chooses to vilify the DIG.

I will not hesitate to repeat that the stature of the rank of DIG was such that they were the envy of the public service. More envious were some of the commissioned ranks of the Army, trained in British Royal Military academies, who continued to treasure colonial values and attitudes. These moustache-twirling ‘Whacko old Boy’ types who, back in their native countries, continued even to heroworship visiting retired British army mercenaries, were visibly jealous of and craving for the powers and status recognition enjoyed by the police, among the civilian population, particularly in a war-free environment.


********************************************

The Sepala Ekanayake saga

A narrative of facts cannot distort history but wild, baseless insinuations can

Chance in a Million

LF goes on to say that the police could have called upon Ekanayake to account for the money and also for holding the passengers hostage in Thailand. At the same time he says that the police failed to do these, probably because the government had made ill advised promises to the hijacker to gain popularity. Unwittingly, he appears to have got closer to the truth!

Maybe the ill advised promises included immunity from arrest, thereby giving him the courage and confidence to strut about like a hero. Without a word of criticism of those who gave the hijacker encouraging promises, LF still chooses to vilify the DIG.

I will not hesitate to repeat that the stature of the rank of DIG was such that they were the envy of the public service. More envious were some of the commissioned ranks of the Army, trained in British Royal Military academies, who continued to treasure colonial values and attitudes. These moustache-twirling ‘Whacko old Boy’ types who, back in their native countries, continued even to heroworship visiting retired British army mercenaries, were visibly jealous of and craving for the powers and status recognition enjoyed by the police, among the civilian population, particularly in a war-free environment.

‘Pressure on the

hijacker

LF asks the question, ‘who booked the psychiatric’ terrorist zombie into the Inter-Continental Hotel - implying that the police or the government did so. The hotel records provide the answer. He had come on his own, disclosed his identity, occupied a room and checked out paying the bill out of his pocket.

There had been no complaints against him by foreign guests or airline crews. Of course the lobbies, filing up with journalists and curious visitors, proved to be a nuisance to the hotel.

LF’s condemnation of the Inspector of the Fort Police is puerile and unwarranted. He was merely performing his duty. LF must realize that it is legally incumbent on the Police to provide protection to all citizens, including criminals depending on the circumstances. If Sepala Ekanayake had been lynched, the Police and the government would have had a real problem in their hands.

To say that the man left the hotel ‘despite Police surveillance’ is to display ignorance of the meaning of surveillance. The police were interested in knowing only where he was going and the vehicle transporting him. With this information the arrest was effected without any problem in a lawful manner. LF chooses to call this the ‘government’s initial but brief reign of criminal lunacy’. A statement that could be best interpreted by a lunatic!

Paradox

With no anti-hijacking laws in place in Sri Lanka, which lacuna Mrs. Abeysekera had intimated to the government with commendable foresight, there was no way in which the police could have rushed to arrest. The offence of ‘retention of stolen property’ was the only option left for the police to act lawfully and the offence emerged clearly only with the Ambassador’s complaint, albeit belated.

It is still a mystery why the Thai Police refrained from taking Ekanayake into custody to be dealt with under their law. After all, the offences were all committed within the jurisdiction of Thailand.

Preface to 1983

The venom in the mind of LF surfaces clearly when he refers to the riots of July ‘83. I will be failing in my duty if I do not even mildly counter the most damning and malicious indictment LF has made on those wonderful high caliber officers of the Metropolitan Range that I had mentioned, when he asks the question, "Was it a wonder that almost all the police players that EG mentions were in the saddle when all hell broke out in 1983? What he is attempting to imply is obvious.

Yes, they were the players, They were all rewarded. They were all promoted to higher rank. The President, the IGP, the Addl. Defence Secretary Gen. Attygalle and the Army Commander all know under what trying conditions, with limited resources, they battled a surge of violence against the innocent Tamils - a veritable killing spree by rampaging mobs who had the backing and protection of some powerful unseen hands.

If not for the admirable restraint exercised by officers of the police in leadership positions even under grave provocation, confrontations with these unseen and unmentionable elements would have compounded the disaster and even led to the fall of the government, giving way to complete anarchy. It was a mutiny of sorts that presented the government with the greatest concern. In the national interest and in the interests of inter services harmony, I do not want to spell out the details of my own experiences of this ugly aspect of July, 1983.

However, for the edification of LF, I would like to quote two passages from Sinha Ratnatunga’s well researched treatise, ‘Politics of Terrorism’ - the Sri Lanka Experience., published in 1988 by the International Fellowship for Social and Economic Development Inc. and let the readers decide who should really be blamed for the mob violence of an unprecedented nature. Upto 1983, every time that communal riots broke out in the country eg. 1956, 1958, 1977 & 1981. The police had no difficulty in quelling them.

Quote 1 ( Sequel to the Tinnavelly massacre of soldiers) "Tension was running high in the northern capital. The men of the Army could not hold back their emotions after seeing and hearing of the carnage. The soldiers turned into mad dogs and discipline took a holiday. Due to political pressures they had been required not to react to circumstances in recent times. But now the angry soldiers boarded their trucks, broke barracks and went on a vile spree of cold blooded murder and mayhem. Thirty nine civilians of different ages were gunned down while many others were injured" (Page 7 - Politics of Terrorism).

The Army Chief himself Maj. Gen. Weeratunga had to bring the situation under control and 29 soldiers of the CLI moved out of Jaffna to Anuradhapura. Significantly, there were no Sinhala mobs to continue the start given by the indisciplined soldiers.

The scenario in Colombo was different in that the city population was predominantly Sinhalese with more than adequate criminal elements bent on violence and looting. Mobs cold easily be incited to act with a vengeance. The commander of the Army was in Jaffna, personally keeping his men subdued. In Colombo there was not a single senior officer to be seen after the funeral arrangements at Kanatte were called off.

Quote 2

"The picture that emerged throughout the city by noon, Monday 25th July, 1983, was that the Police, although heavily outnumbered, were trying, even in a limited way, to control the rioting, while the Navy and Army (on the streets) were giving thumbs-up signals to the mob. The Air Force performed no ground operations in Colombo. As a result, the Police faced the brunt of the unruly mob, abused in Sinhalese billingsgate, while the uniformed men of the services became the heroes of he mob. There were areas in which there was fiction between the Armed Forces and the Police. The Police always withdrew in order to avoid a confrontation with the better armed and equipped Forces. Later the IGP was to order all his men to act with caution…" (Page 22 - Politics of Terrorism).

These observations of Singhe Ratnatunga have stood the test of time. For over 20 years, no officer of the Armed Services has had the spunk to contest even a single word. LF in his wisdom may venture to say that this is also a distortion of history! It is little wonder that the image of the police remained shining and undented.

--- The Island

Concluded

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