Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Fantasy of the Exotic

‘Colours of the Indus’ was a collection of fashions from Pakistan designed by Shyainne presented by The Cinnamon Grand Hotel in the Oakroom, was indeed among the best of shows held in Colombo in recent times. It was rather strange that many of the fashion conscious and many of those whose business is choreography and presentation was conspicuous by their absence. A narrator in varied garb added a new dimension to the presentation. Of course, the collection too brought the ingenuity and flair for style, the designer obviously has in abundance.

The show opened on a somewhat subdued note, with stylised trouser suits, in soft pastels and white. The layered pants of chiffon over silk, was on a flare was shaded from a pale colour to white. The tops were in the colour worked in panels of embroidery and sprinkled with subtle glitter. The long stoles had broad fringes in glittering silver beads. The music changed to ‘Where do I begin’ which brought on a bevy of girls in aquamarine, worked in silver motifs and the stoles also fringed in beads. This lead to a collection in grey and silver which were in a dazzling fabric, combined with shawls trimmed with antique lace combined with plum. Cotton gagras were among the styles that included slim skirts, slimmer trousers in olive green dotted in black combined with a rust brocade.

The sarees were a dazzle of sequins, the best among them a half and half saree in deep coral and black, the black bordered in two bands of sequins, the top in black, and the bottom in copper. The pallu in black net was worked in rings of the sequins with a central floral motif in relief. Shyainne revels in the bold contrast of colours, such as mottai pink and orange. Two piece outfits followed consisting of long skirts teamed with tops in a cerise and mauve print. The salwars were in deep tones of plum and wine worn with draped dhoti style pants. Variations on the salwar followed, in white emerald green, and turquoise. The pants were calf length and fitted with slits on either side embroidered in thread. There were black and white duppattas mixed with prussian blue, and in black and white tie and dye. Black ponchos with a variety of styles in the sleeves, were embroidered at the necklines in enamel blue and silver sequins and thread, and then came the gagras for bridal wear heavily embroidered and in sharp contrasts of colours, which of course would not be of much use to the Sri Lankan brides. There was a swirl and swish of colour and design in a collection of shawls which was the highlight of one segment. All this was not to deter our style conscious women who were there. Sarees were the popular choice in this graceful costume our women look at their best in. Black with unfailing chic combined in the saree Shafinaaz Mackie wore. Her black saree had a broad central panel in white strikingly striped and patterned in large black dots, she wore with a black blouse printed in small white dots. A choker necklace in black mesh made her smart ornament. Sunila de Zoysa wore a saree from the designers collection. The saree was in a shadow patterned ivory white with only the pallu from the shoulder downwards in a elaborate design in several colours, with a predominance of vivid turquoise. Her blouse was in purple, and she wore a diamond pendent and pendulum earrings. The Satya Paul saree that Nela de Zoysa wore was in swirls of colour which ranged from turquoise, to deep blue, yellow and white, she wore with a blue blouse and a long rope of pearls and drop earrings. The black saree Iromie Wijewardene wore was given drama with sweeping panels of a leopard skin print, set a glitter with jet sequins. Siccille Kotalawela’s sugar beige saree was embroidered in an all over design in luminous thread in the same colour, she wore with an unique necklace and eardrops of venetian glass. Three gold sequin borders streaked across the fall of Harshini Nadesan’s saree, she wore with a cold shouldered blouse and gold jewellery. A kurta style top in a lovely shade of oyster pink worked in muted silver sequins Sriyani Samarasinghe wore with more beigy toned pants, and shoulder length earrings. A trouser suit in white, which had a sleeveless top, Tylene Nagendra wore with a choker necklace of pearls, Black was the choice both of Linda the hairdresser of repute, and of Ranee Rajapakse to wear with diamonds. Champa Mohinani had her black long top patterned in exotic red and yellow to wear with black pants. As always making a definite statement of fashion Yolanda Aluvihare wore a bolero style jacket in a gossamer shot gold fabric embroidered in burnished gold over a top and trousers in shot satin. A butterfly made her antique looking pendent. The Pakistani designer Shyainne had her sleeveless white kameez teamed with a dupatta in white with the either end fused with turquoise, she wore with a many strand necklace of turquoise beads and white flowers in her hair.

Champagne and gold

The tastefully decorated house that Methsili and Ishramali Herat Gunarante live in was the venue for daughter Natasha’s engagement ceremony and celebration when she was officially engaged to Senaka Weerasuriya, the son of Wickrema and Rohini Weerasuriya. Friends and relations gathered to savour of the speciality Sri Lankan sweetmeats, which was an added attraction to the festivities of the evening. A youthful and pretty picture of elegance was portrayed by Natasha, in a honey gold saree of net worked in a narrow border and the pallu in subdued gold, in a scroll of rope like thread. Her wide necked blouse had little cap sleeves and she wore a necklace of gold and diamonds, and a spray of dainty blossoms in her hair. The diamonds picked up the sparkle from the swarowski in the embroidery. Mother Ishramali with a her slender lissome looks had her beautiful green silk saree woven with a border and pallu in green, gold and black thread. Her sister Geethanjali Jayanetti favoured a western style and wore a suit style dress in white and silver brocade, and Natasha’s brother Dmithri cut a dash in his grey suit and black polo neck shirt. A red border and pallu brought colour to Ayoma Wijesundera’s saree she wore with pearl and ruby jewellery and a single red flower in her hair.(TSIO)

Event of the week

An Avurudu Pola was organized by the Mallika Nivasa Samithiya to raise much needed funds for its projects. The most popular stall was the vegetarian lunch stall where the chief guest was Dr. D. P. Atukorale.

The picture shows Dr. Atukorale, Mss. Indrani Devendra, Ethel Fernando, the chief organizer and former President and Ms. D. P. Atukorale. Special guests included Miss Punyakanthi de Silva, Chandani Fernando, Maya Senanayake, Hema Wettasinghe, Angela Kadirgamar, Gertie Tillekeratne, Karuna Weerakkody, Chitra de Silva, Swarnamali Gunatunga and Mala Weeraskera.(TSIOL)

Emirates’ celebrates 20 years of operations in Sri Lanka with glitzy gala event

Emirates top passenger and cargo agents in Sri Lanka with the award-winning airline’s officials from Dubai and Colombo.

Emirates celebrated its 20th anniversary in Sri Lanka with a spectacular awards presentation and dinner event at the Hilton Colombo.

More than 350 dignitaries from the travel and cargo sectors and representatives of the airline’s top, corporate clients packed the hotel’s grand ballroom for the gala event themed ‘A 20 year voyage of discovery.’

One of the most looked-forward-to events in the local travel industry calendar, the Emirates awards night was presided over by Nabil Sultan, Emirates’ Senior Vice President Commercial Operations for West Asia and Indian Ocean, and Peter Sedgley, Vice President Cargo Commercial Operations, who flew in from Dubai for the event.

In his welcome address at the awards ceremony, Emirates Area Manager Sri Lanka and Maldives, Tissa Bibile recalled how Emirates had started services to Colombo, its fifth destination, just five months after the airline was launched in Dubai.

"The decision of the government of Dubai to start an airline more than 20 years ago was a bold and courageous one. And what a voyage of discovery it has been. We have seen an airline that began with two leased Boeing 727 aircraft grow into one of the most profitable and acclaimed airlines in the world," he said.

Pointing out that Emirates has achieved greatness with the support of travel and cargo agents and two decades of hard work, Mr. Bibile said: "Let us dedicate ourselves to continue our voyage and to work towards another year of mutually beneficial achievement and the satisfaction of enriching the travel experience of our customers."

Emirates Vice President Cargo Commercial Operations Peter Sedgley said Emirates SkyCargo is expected to achieve a milestone of its own in revenue and tonnage in the current financial year. "The success of Emirates is entirely due to the people at Emirates and the loyal support of customers. The ingenuity, commitment and innovation of our people represent the true spirit of Emirates," he said.

Handsome trophies and certificates were presented to the top five travel agents and the top five cargo agents for their contributions to Emirates in 2004-05. The top agent in the passenger category was The Traveller Global (Pvt) Ltd., while Expo Lanka Freight Ltd., won the top award in the cargo category.

A series of raffle draws conducted at the event enabled guests to win a host of attractive prizes including air tickets to Australia and Europe, holiday packages from Emirates, Holidays, Skywards Miles from the airline’s award-winning frequent flyer programme, and free cargo carriage of up to 1000 kilograms to Singapore, courtesy Emirates SkyCargo.

The world’s fastest-growing full service inter-continental airline and one of the most profitable, Emirates operates services to 83 cities in 57 countries. The airline has won more than 280 major international awards in recognition of its efforts to provide unsurpassed levels of customer service. Emirates operates 13 services a week between Colombo and Dubai and four services a week from Colombo to Singapore and Jakarta.(TSIO)

A star studded night

Sri Lanka’s leading beauty soap ‘Lux’, celebrated its 75th year in Sri Lanka recently at Water’s Edge amidst glitter and glamour.

The Unilever’s Lux Diamond year celebrations kicked off in style with leading films stars Sangeetha Weeraratne, Yashoda Wimaladharma, Anarkali, Chathurika Pieris and Manjula Perera gracing the occasion .

The evening was a spectacular mix of entertainment with Channa’s dance troupe bound spellbound.

From time immemorial beauty and to be beautiful has and is what everybody aspires to be.

Nimasha Pinghe, the Brand Manager said that Lux has enjoyed a vibrant history in Sri Lanka for the past 75 years. Reflecting on the history of Lux as a beauty soap she pointed out that many stars of the silver screen have endorsed Lux as a beauty product by using it and having been chosen as the Lux star.

Surith Perera, Marketing Manager said that Lux was launched in 1931 and in embarking in the diamond year.

Lux has withstood the test of time.

Sangeetha Weeraratne, the Lux Star stated at the gala event that she was happy to be a Lux Star, and was proud of her association with Lux.

Anarkali Akarsha, Chathurika Pieris and Manjula Perera are the new Lux upcoming stars. On the whole, the evening dazzled with the stars and sparkled with the Lux diamonds.

Two exotic variants of soaps were launched as limited edition variants. Rich with cocoa cream and strawberry vitamins, Lux "Chocolate Seduction" has been designed to nourish the skin and leave it looking ‘deliciously’ gorgeous.

Receiving its name from its cocoa cream ingredient, chocolate in colour and fragrance, Lux "Chocolate Seduction" is designed to entice the consumer unlike ever before. This is the first time a chocolate soap has appeared here and it is a first among branded soaps across the world. The second variant, Lux "Aromatic Glow", entrenches a delicate mix of lotus extract and aromatic oils that has been crafted to offer an exotic, lingering fragrance and glowing skin.

Zanita careem

Pix by Roy Silva

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sri Lanka's Culture in Focus wishes its readers a happy and peaceful New Year

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Suba Aluth Avuruddhak Wewa!

Putthandu Valthukkal!

Happy New Year!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Los Angeles New Year Celebrations on April 8th,2006 at Woodley Park in Van Nuys California.

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The Pictorial Gallery A Don Mangal Production USA

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Audience spellbound

The "look" fusion of hair, fashions and style brought together two icons of beauty and fashion, Ramani Fernando and Michael Wijesuriya’s versatility and creativity were seen at their best at this show. The designer sarees presented by Michael Wijesuriya from ‘Fabric Gallary’ were tantalizing flashes of beauty.

The brides of Ramani and Michael complemented each other with elegant hairstyles and exotic make-up artistry done with such flair and panache that the audience were literally kept spellbound.

The exquisite jewellery presented by Lalitha Jewellery matched with excellent craftsmanship looked ethereal.

The models complemented the mood and designs they wore.

The finale — the fantasy hairstyle with the bride and angels in bronze and gold gave the show fineness reflecting creativity which was the hallmark within their salon chain.

The ramp was simple in style and classic in outlook showcased that the production was handled by a master craftman Graham Hatch’s creativity who has earned fame for himself by being the top choreographer.

Flowers play an integral part in any wedding Janaki Soysa of Flowers of Summer, Mary Jayaratne and Lucien de Silva, Lassana Flora and Second Chance brought out an array of floral bouquets and arrangements reflecting the concept of the modern bride.

The mood was exciting the background, the ambience the music all well co-ordinated giving the show an international atmosphere.(TSI)

Pix by Dimitri Crusz

High stakes in fashion during the races
by Zanita Careem

The hills of Nuwara Eliya come alive during the month of April. Holiday makers go up to the salubrious climes and revive a festive and relaxed atmosphere to this little bit of England. Flower shows, beer competitions, pageants, horse racing and motor racing and hill climbs are major events in the N’Eliya calendar, at this time of the year, inspite of Sinhala New Year festivities. Flowers are in full bloom and provide a blaze of beutiful colours and competitions are held to judge the best garden. The Governor’s Cup organised by SriLankan Airlines where the local and foreign media are invited is one of the prestigious events during the season, and has become one of the fashion highlights of the year.

According to some leading designers like Kirthi Sri Karunaratne, Lou Chang Wong, every year the venue turns into a veritable catwalk! Horse racing has become one of the fads among the rich and famous.

World horsing events such as Ascot and the Derby are un-parallel with the Dubai World Cup events and competition off the track hots up just as much as on it. In Dubai the fashion stakes are very high collections from the couturiers of the world, Christine Lacroix, Emanuel Ungara, Kenzo and Givenchy, Dior and St. Laurent are in evidence of the turf which makes a catwalk on the race course, dresses be they maxis or minis are popular. This year in Dubai the emphasis was on sleek, contemporary lines, pastels colours were very much in vogue.

An amazing array of hats with feathers, beads, flowers and creations of fantasy make their appearance. Sri Lanka is no exception. How does it compare with Royal Ascot? Racing is the only spectator sport where people dress up to such an extent. Since time immemorial fashions have run the gamut from bustles and bows worn in the earlier times to dresses of varied lengths, shifts, see throughs, and a gamut of styles with the freedom fashion dictates and we enjoy now.

We also saw the era of miniskirts and even hot pants, often worn with go-go boots, revealing legs and curves. Men were also sporting hair that was longer, along with beards and moustaches. And it was not unknown to see men wear bright colours, double breasted sports jackets, polyester pants suits with Nehru jackets and turtlenecks on the tracks.

This year, style watchers are predicting pretty feminine looks, gypsy skirts and tops, asymmetrical hemlines, with bling still being seen or in fashion consious expect to see outrageously shiny diamanthe on young race watchers. This year there will lots of shoulder skimming earrings on display .Uunfortunately the Governor’s Cup will not be on the scale of those held in the past few years.

Chairman Jayaratne who has a passion for horses and horse racing has returned after the Dubai World Cup. She feels Sri Lanka has come a long way from its inception in horse racing says that Dubai racing event has a clear fashion code. The ladies were all dressed to kill . In fact if you ignored the palm trees and the heat you could have thought you were at ladies day at Ascot. Charmeri Jayaratne and her husband Gamini have been the winners of the Governor’s Cup and several other prestigious cup at N’Eliya races. Besides this she has made a definite statement of style and has hit the fashion pages and magazines here and abroad. For Dubai World Cup she wore a yellow outfit turned out by Mano Caderamanpulle which made heads turn. Her hat was turned out by Lucien de Silva.(TSI)

Cocktails for personality
by Kirthi Sri Karunaratne

"Miss Sri Lanka 2006" has been won and lost with a winner Jacqueline Fernandez holding a lot of promise for a long overdue win for our country. This charming and unaffected girl is bound to capture the hearts of those wherever she goes.

On the weekend prior to the finals, a cocktail party was held in the Ballroom of the Galle Face Hotel for the invitees and a panel of judges to meet the finalists, who circulated with those present for the judges to make their assessment. The winner Jacqueline who also won the title of "Miss. Personality" wore a white dress with a black print on it, while the first runner up Chaturika Fernando wore a saree the first part of which was in a cafe au lait satin and the fall in a creme georgette. A gorgeous necklace made a striking ornament, and she entertained the audience with song, which was most creditably performed. Dramatic black and white was the combination on the saree Kamini Mukundan wore. The saree which was striped in the two colours, had the pallu in a crazy paving design in the same colours. Her cutaway armholed V necked blouse and black accessories and large crescent earrings were the finishing touches to a sophisticated picture. A shoe string strapped tiered top was Irushi Bulathsinhala’s choice to wear with black pants. For a touch of style she wore a diamanthe belt which flowed down the side, and a single strand of onyz beads. Also in a sophisticated vein was the black cheonsam with glistenin red patterning on it Romala Wijewardene wore with chopsticks in her hair and red handbag and gold hoop earrings all of which suited her to perfection. Rosita Wickremasinghe had her aquamarine silk saree patterned in paisley motifs and a scroll design in ivory, pink and cornflower blue. Her blouse was in the simple tone of green and she wore a necklace, eardrops and bracelet in pearls and aquamarines. Style was evident among many of the others, with Rozanne Diasz last years winner in a red evening dress, complete with tiara, the starlet from the popular Sinhala movie ‘Hiri Poda Wessa’ Harshini Perera in biege toned saree draped in the once very fashionable coorg. A black salwar which was sleeveless Roshi Hirdramani wore with a shimmering silver stole.(TSI)

Mother Courage and her Children

The original Bertolt Brecht play translated by Henry Jayasena went on the boards at the Lionel Wendt Theatre, with Anoja Weerasinghe playing the lead role. This play which was done many years ago in English by Macintyre, with Marjorie Lamond a visitor to Sri Lanka in the lead, will linger in the memories of those who had the good fortune to have seen it, or been in anyway involved with the production.

This was followed by the Henry Jayasena version with Manel Jayasena in the lead, which too we had the good fortune to see, as it was a memorable performance. Anoja in this new version brought to the part, of this courageous but shrewd woman who went through the travails of a long drawn out war, in her laden cart trading with the forces a sterling performance. To begin with she gets her two sons to draw the cart but soon her oldest child Eliff played by Kamal Amila is recruited into the army, by a recruiting officer and his assistant who tricks Mother Courage to let her son join the army for the mere price of a belt buckle.

From then on she goes through many rough times loosing her other son Swiss Cheese and finally her dumb daughter Kattrin played by Kosala Shamila Thilani. Anoja has a tailor-made role for her, and proves that she is among our best actresses today. Her performance as the part demands is of such strength, that the others are but supporting props for her. Drawn from her workshop the cast were mostly of children who had been through the trauma of the Tsunami, and Anoja took them into the Abina Academy. Good performances came from Nimal Jayasinghe as the Cook, and Sunimal Perera as the Chaplain.

All the other performances were of a high standard, with I believe Nilmini Buweneka as Yvette Poittier worthy of comment. The music by Premasiri Khemadasa was fitting, with specially the lament the lyrics of which was by Ajantha Ranasinghe Mother Courage sings over the body of her dead daughter, both moving and effective in the finale, before she moves on without giving into the tradegies, she has gone through in her lifetime. The costumes designed by Suvinitha Subasinghe was appropriate and suited the theme, and the direction by Sue Weston of a formidable challenge she accepted and came out a victor with a production of professional quality. (TSI)

Kirthi Sri K

When avurudu smiled on our village
by Lalitha K. Witanachchi

Here I am seated at the typewriter writing the story of a bygone age, seen through the eyes of a five year recalling memories of the Sinhala Avurudda. They run like a golden thread of spiritual and cultural values that have not changed, but only altered just a little for I have not forgotten that I was born and bred in a village.

In my mother’s home known as ‘Pahala Walawwa’ in Bandarawela, deep in a valley in the steadfastness of the Uva mountains, the new year was not heralded by the sound of the ‘koha’. But the light breeze on sunny patna grasslands where we played the long day through, the harvesting of the fields in the narrow valley, the incessant pounding of rice in the outhouse, the smell of wood fire and boiling coconut oil and mingling with the aroma of rasakevili, the white washing of the walls and the sound of the rabana as it echoed in hills told us that the avurudda has come to our village.

The rambling old house was full of people grand children (just imaging twelve girls and one boy!) fathers and mothers and uncles and aunts and ruling in gentle authority this little kingdom of ours were our grand parents.

Everyday we played on the hill, but today was going to be different. Anxiously we look towards the Circular road. Suddenly one could cry out "There they come!"

Over the crest of the hill grand father could appeared smiling, blowing puffs of smoke from his pipe. Behind him came Gampola Thambi wearing a tweed cloth and coat, smiling so that his gold tooth shone for all to see, and two other men with great big bundles on their head , Yes three big bundles all, and that’s how the shop was brought to our doorstep, for in those days we never went out shopping.

We would run home and take our place on the verandah and wait impatiently till grandmother served tea to Gampola Thambi which he drank ever so slowly from the saucer and discussed the weather and every thing else that was not at all important.

Then the long mats were laid on the floor. With a quick flick of the hand the khaki bundle was opened. Rolls of pretty chintzes every hue, sarongs and camboys were heaped on the mat. The smell of their newness was intoxicating. In little boxes there were buttons and hooks and eyes, reels of thread, small bottles of Evening in Paris and little tins of powder.

Then came the great moment when we were asked to choose our Avurudu clothes.

"Better choose something with little red in it", some one would say for that was the colour for this new year.

So we chose whatever we fancied and Gampola Thambi cut the lengths with his enormous black pair of scissors.

All the while the mothers and aunties were referring to their lists.

This would do for Kalu and this for Kiriwanthe. What about this for Sinniah and this for Ukkumenika’s girl?

Not a single person was forgotten in those generous leisurely days.

It was late afternoon when Gampola Thambi and his assistants went back with just a small bundle and the khaki cloth folded in their hands.

Then would begin the sewing of new year clothes. From morning till the lamps were lit the sewing machine whirred.

Meanwhile all day long there were people in the small dining room moulding soft lumps of rice flour and treacle into fancy shapes on oiled plantain leaves. Sometimes we made funny people too. Tray after tray was taken to the outhouse where the kavun was fried and later packed in kuruni boxes of pane.

In the outhouse women were pounding flour.

Doog, doog, doog.

Doog, doog, doog, went the pestles in the mortar and you knew there were two women pounding.

Doog, doog, doog

Doog, doog, doog, pestles in the mortar and you knew there were three then with the crash you heard the wooden sound of pestles striking and the pounding stopped.

Then gently the flour was sifted. Slowly the snow white floury mountain rose and if you put your finger in, it was on, so soft.

But most interesting of all was to watch the kokis being fried. Gently the mould is dipped in the batter and then immersed in the sizzling oil. A deft flick of the wrist and there is the patterned waffle dancing in the oil.

You could eat as many kokis as you liked and no one stopped you.

You could even give them to the cast and dogs, there was so much of it.

Then there would come the parana avuruddha. There was feverish activity to finish all the work; before old year passed away. We had our meals early and the dishes and pots and pans were washed. The hearth was cleared of all wood-ash and looking all forlorn there remained only the hearth stones. The kitchen floors were washed and saffron water was sprinkled.

Then with the old year going to sleep, I remember grand mother relating jataka stories, or reading her book of sutras and we children had nothing to do. It was all so boring as it was nonagathaya, and we were so hungry inspite of the heaps of delicious sweets, for we were forbidden to eat anything till the auspicious time next day. So we went to sleep.

That new year we woke to the sound of crackers, just as we have done all these years. Dressed in our new finery we played about while at the auspicious time, grandmother lit the hearth and placed the pot of milk to boil and spill over. The dining table was laden with food – kavun, kokis and kaludodol, athiraha, narang kavun, puhul dosi and kolikuttu. A pahana was lit and as we waited in the dining room we were full of smiles.

Louder grew the sound of crackers and when grand-mother said it was time, we gathered as one family. One by one we walked up to grandfather who gave us a morsel of milk rice with his own hands made from the first harvest from his fields.

Then we would form a line according to our ages and worship him and all the elders who were there. As each one said, "Subha Aluth Avuruddak Wewa," there was joy and pride and contentment.

Then came the best part of the day when there was ganudenu. We were given shining new coins wrapped in betel leaves and when the collection amounted to a few rupees we felt we were as rich as kings!

After that for a few minutes we read our books, while Kalina put a new coin into the well and drew a pot of water that was used to wash our hands when we offered flowers to the Buddha when we went to the temple later in the day.

Then we sat for the grandest meal we had ever eaten. Grandfather at the head and grand-mother at the other end, and all the uncles and aunts and cousins around the big table and we children around the little table. It was a bright and prosperous New Year.

And so through twenty years or so this pattern continued except that the scene then changed to my father’s village in Karalliyadde, after grandfather died. There was not much of a difference here except that we were now grown up. As children we had always received gifts for the New Year.

There was greater pride when we came home one by one, with our husbands and our children, with gifts for our parents. We were not going to deny them the joy of reunion in their ancestral village home. They would remember the new year with their Lokuaththa in Dumbara.

But sometimes there were a few adjustments that had to be made and this came about with marriage. I remember that first new year I went to my husband’s home in Baddegama that was to be my home thereafter. When the auspicious time came for us to be given the first meal by my father-in-law, I took my turn happily by my husband. I worshipped my husband’s father and at that moment, with a pang of sorrow I thought of my father whom I had worshipped with a daughter’s fidelity every year of my life, and all my people who would be gathered there at that time in Karalliyadde.

Silently I wept. My husband understood, and he came to the fine decision that we would spend alternate new years with our respective parents. This arrangement we followed till our parents were no more.

Things began to change. We had now our own home in Colombo and it could not be closed for the new year.

So we observed all the customs just as we did in our village. With my daughters, dressed in our new clothes we lit the hearth (even though it was a kerosene cooker) at the auspicious time, and boilded milk in a new pot. We have the first meal just as we have done in the past. My husband in his new sarong stands with the plate of milk rice in hand.

Our two sons too wear their new sarongs, and our daughters in their new frocks and I in a new voile saree, line up and are fed the first spoonful of milk rice from the hands of the head of our family, and as we pay our respects to all those who are older than us, we get their blessings.

But there are more changes now. We do not hear the sound of pounding from the kitchen for the servants, if there are any must go home for the new year. But it is not difficult to make some sweets and if everything else fails you could even buy some sweetmeats for the new year. Nor do we wait for hours without eating during the nonagatha. For it is not taboo to eat some food prepared earlier.

But there are somethings that will never change. The hearth will be lit at the auspicious hour.

I have already done my new year shopping and far in to the night. I have been sewing cloths.

Outside the strident loudspeaker blares forth, ‘Ayin venda, ayin vendo as racing cycles whizz past. Another loudspeaker announces an Avurudu Kumari contest.

The house is empty. Our two daughters are married and our boys are away. As I fry the kokis I miss them for in other years they were always hovering around eating kokis.

I can hear the gate opening and I know who has come. They announce themselves. Five-months old Susie howls.

‘Ukkummi, we have come,’ says five-year-old Dhilmini running into the kitchen.

‘You are making Kokis? Why? She asks reaching for one.

"It is for the Aluth Avurudda.’ I tell her ‘When is it?’ she asks.

‘Tomorrow’ I answer.

‘Is today, tomorrow?’ she asks in all innocence.

‘No, my little raththarang,’ I explain ‘when you sleep tonight and wake up in the morning, it will be tomorrow. You will have new clothes to wear and crackers to light, and Muttha and Aththammi will give you their blessings.’

And as she skips and dances, some day in the far off future, in another century she will remember the Aluth Avurudda tomorrow, which to her will then be yesterday. (TSI)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A picture is a poem without words...

by Zanita Careem

His camera is to him, what a brush and palette might be to an artist, for Prishan Pandithage is a "creative photographer" in the true sense of the word.

"This is always of paramount importance to me when I take photographs. I look for creative ways in which I could project the image being captured on film - not standard, posed pictures but natural shots through which the real essence and meaning of the subject emerges," says Prishan. He explains that some of his best efforts have been when his subject is not aware of being photographed because this is when the end product produces a truly natural appearance.

This is particularly important in relation to fashion photography. "I tell the models not to give me standard poses, but to be as natural as possible and I will work around them," says Prishan.

Specialising in fashion photography, advertising, weddings and wildlife, Prishan has his own individual way of making each and every photograph unique. "I undertake weddings at which they want more natural, fun shots rather than the stereotyped group photographs," he says. He achieves these unusual effects by spending a considerable amount of time watching the couple and retinue, and capturing the best moments through his lens.

How did it all begin? "As a hobby, because I always liked photography, had a camera since I was around 10 years old, and was always taking photographs," says Prishan. Pursuing it over the years during his school days at STC Prep School, through the years at Stafford International and later when he was at the London Middlesex University, Prishan never left his camera out of reach.

Being the grandson of Donald Wijeyaratna of "Donald’s Studio"’ fame might have something to do with Prishan’s passion for photography - after all, talent runs in the family and what his grandfather began,, Prishan as a third generation photographer is continuing today in own, innovative, high-tech style.

His father Mohan Pandithage had a desire to have a child in shipping and logistics and Prishan who is qualified in Marketing as well as in Business Management, could have set his sights on a mega position in the corporate world. But being more in to design, marketing and an absolutely people-oriented person, he decided to follow his heart with the blessings of his family, and today has his own very successful design and multi media production company - "The Studio Design."

With an impressive list of clients from the corporate, hospitality and travel sector, Prishan has had his photographs published in many prestigious international publications. They include the Time Magazine which did a review in Sri Lanka and published Prishan’s photographs of the Sanctuary Spa. Additionally, a number of other publications have deemed his creative photographs worthy of international exposure. They include the British Journal of Photography website which featured his fashion photographs and swimwear shots and he also was placed I in the category "Motherly Love" in the animal category in the International Library of Photography.

This photograph has been used in a coffee table book which contains all the award winning photographs. A U.K. publication titled "Endless Journeys" this coffee table book will soon be available in bookstores here.

"My dream came true when I worked with Microsoft in Colombo," says Prishan. This was during the Microsoft World Service Group Conference and this was for their worldwide advertising. "They wanted shots of the Microsoft staff in different moods," explains Prishan. He adds: "They were staff from around the world and it was pretty challenging as they were technical guys and not given to being overly animated!"

With a firm belief that good tools make the job in hand much easier, Prishan has invested in the very best cameras, lighting equipment and backdrops etc., and his work is 100% digital.

He is rather perturbed that the local perception of photographers is totally off track. "Internationally, it is a well recognised and highly respected profession, and hopefully will move in this direction locally as well," he says.

"Photography is also a creative art form and it is the photograph that really shows and sells a product" insists Prishan. He explains that a well thought out, descriptive photograph tells the story visually, which is more important than a hundred words in print.

He plans on going for advanced training in photography to Boston U.S.A., where he will have the opportunity of working with some of the top agencies and photographers. "This will enhance my knowledge of this subject which has always been my passion in life, and it will hopefully put me on a totally different level," he says.(TSI)

"The Look"certainly draws more than a glance

by Kirthi Sri Karunaratne

There was slick sophistication and the feel of a gala event when Ramani Fernando and Michael Wijesuriya combined to hold a show of styles and hair extravagance at the Ballroom of the Colombo Hilton Hotel.

The excellence in all the facets brought the elite and fashion conscious of Sri Lanka together to make this an unforgettable evening, expertly choreographed by Graham Hatch. The perfectly timed show ran through the gamut of hair styling and couturier styles of clothing, which have put both these experts right at the top, turning them into icons whose names are a household word. It was only at the end of the show when the stylist under the baton of Ramani Salons and under Michael that one realised the enormity of their contribution to the industry.

The show opened with a dance performed by the Channa Wijewardene troupe of dancers, who today has established themselves in many parts of the world with the beauty of the dance to join the duo of Ramani and Michael for a top rung in the world of beauty. Following this came hairstyles which were long, knotted, twisted, braided and curled for captivating Eastern influence. This was the introduction to a burst of colour contrast and creativity Michael brought to the saree, in which sequence the models were escorted by male models to match. Then came the elegance of bridal wear, bringing into focus the timeless beauty of the Sri Lankan bride. Hair was coloured and gelled and spiked in bold fashion for youthful fun and the equality of the sexes, where the models glittered in sequined clothes and did their own thing in dance form on the catwalk for a difference. Then came the head spinners with a flourish of fantasy with Anushan Perera, the western dancing champion of Sri Lanka and his troupe of dancers in dazzling silver and black clothes, which were the ultimate in sophistication. It went on into high fashion red carpet glamour, western bridal wear and climaxed in a fantasy ethereal bride accompanied by a gold body painted band of angels. There was glitz and glamour, humour and the lure of the dance to make this look. Which rates among the best we have seen in Sri Lanka. Of course contributing to the sparkle and elegance of the event was the decor in the lobby which was packed with the glitterati of Colombo clad in their glamorous best. Ramani who is today among the best dressed women in the country opted for black worked in silver, as did Otara Chandiram whose black designer outfit was given sparkle at the back with jet sequins. From India came a friend Amy Fernandes, the Editor of the Femina Magazine. Her black kameez was elaborately worked in ecru thread and dull gold in an all-over spiral design with the edges of the dupatta embroidered to match. She wore a necklace of pearls and gold beads. Jacqueline Fernandes who won the title of Miss Sri Lanka 2006 the evening before wore her papaya toned saree embroidered in a silk thread border with a cold shoulder blouse and swinging earrings in gold and beads of the same colour. A stunning brocade jacket in a silver and cherry red with sleeves that flared at the hemline Yolanda Aluvihare Holms, wore with a green and gold Thai brocade skirt which had a suggestion of a train. A white hang-out shirt style top worked in copper coin sequins Shobana Nagendra wore with light blue jeans and Harshini Nadesan had her bloush pink saree, bordered in metallic silver worked in beetle wing grey beads and silver, she wore with a single strand of grace pearls and pink roses in her hair.(TSI)

Modernity in style

by Nanda Pethiyagoda

The German Cultural Institute had a full hall on the evening of Tuesday March 21st at the visual presentation on Tilak Samarawickrema’s work as an artist, designer, animated film maker and architect. The retrospective, titled National Identity or Universality in Design — a personal quest was sponsored jointly by the German Cultural Institute and the International Centre for Ethnic Studies. The screening was followed by a discussion on Samarawickrema’s work, moderated by the veteran film director cum critic and writer, Tissa Abeysekera.

The Man and his Work

Tilak Samarawickrema needs no introduction. He is up front in the local architectural field and is known internationally. He spent more than ten years resident in Milan and Rome, absorbing the art and culture of Italy and more importantly, giving the cities where he lived a strong taste of Sri Lankan art and design through several exhibitions held in Italian cities and later, in New York. He has now returned to his architectural practice and his firm, Tilak Samarawickrema Associates specializes in commercial buildings — factory complexes and banks.

With reference to his line drawings, it was while he was away that his distinctive art form evolved, described by Bruno Munari, famous Italian designer and author of Design as Art thus: " `85 he recomposes a new imagery coherent with contemporary sensibility and new technology. Hence the traditions that do not remain behind us but within us produce out of us new signs and new aesthetic orders." Using this particular style, Tilak made an animated film in 1978 titled Andare of Sri Lanka produced by Corona Cinematographica, Rome. An edited version of this film was seen at his presentation.

The most remarkable characteristic of this distinct art style of Samarawickrema — line drawn sketches merely suggestive of the subject and composition in mind — is that they may have been influenced by the art he was immersed in, in Italy, but bears a totally delightful and unique Sri Lankan flavour.

Tilak Samarawickrema seems equally absorbed in the Sinhala alphabet. The round letters with appendages here and there seem to strike a sympathetic chord in his creating mind and artistic seeing eye and thus the inclusion of Sinhala letters in his art and in his animated film.

H. A. I. Goonetileke writing about the drawings and etchings of Tilak Samrawickrema had this to say: "In Tilak’s cornucopia of pregnant line, whether surrealist or not, the seemingly pure graphic medium dissolves quickly into the most visual form that idea, feeling and language are capable of assuming. One learns to read his draughtsmanship because it possesses the function of literature — it has a literacy origin, it appears to grow out of the activity of the body, and is rooted in its intelligence."

Returning to Sri Lanka in 1983, Samarawickrema engaged himself as a designer, working with traditional craftspeople in Sri Lanka and later with the master weavers in Talagune, Uda Dumbara, producing hand woven tapestries for international markets.

Tilak rescued these weavers with indigenous skills unique and fast dying out, collaborated with them using his artistry and design to produce exquisite wall hangings, and hand woven tapestries. The entire large piece of weaving is done with great technical skill by these traditional weavers, vibrant in colour and design, mostly geometric.

Now Samarawickrema has gone back to architecture. His successful recent work includes the design and architecture of apparel sector production facilities and the refurbishing of the head office of the Commercial Bank in the Fort, Colombo. He concluded his presentation on architecture with a design proposal for an international training centre for the Central Bank in Matale, where he has attempted to create a national identity in a contemporary architectural aesthetic.

The Discussion on his Work

After the screening of the visual presentation — a retrospective of the artist-architect’s entire gamut of work — a discussion ensued, prefaced by Tilak Samarawickrema. In his introduction he said that he firmly believes in the universality of design. "My understanding and awareness of my own cultural roots gave me the strength and confidence to go beyond regional boundaries. Certain facets of both eastern and western cultures have a timeless quality. My presentation today charts my own evolution as a designer and architect." This presentation was originally made at the 2006 annual sessions of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) in February this year with the theme "National Identity in an international context."

Radhika Coomaraswamy spoke next, expressing her personal commitment and that of the Centre for Ethnic Studies in making Samarawickrema’s work more widely known, giving an opportunity to those who could not attend the sessions of the SLIA to view this visual presentation.

Tissa Abeysekera commented briefly and then threw open the discussion to the audience present. Rather than a lively discussion what followed was carefully considered questions and comments that were asked and given, provoking thought and honing critical faculties which led to further discussion.

The principal comment that emerged, with questions and comments by the Director of the Goethe Institute, Mr. Richard Lang, Venerable Mettavihari Thera, Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu and Ms. Chandra Thenuwara among a couple of others, was that Samarawickrema’s artistic quest was national, a search for a Sri Lankan identity; directed towards a rediscovery and regeneration of traditional art forms. But having been a global citizen, distinct fusion of that which is traditional to his country of birth and bringing up, with foreign influence was inevitable and evident. This foreign influence is strongest in his architectural work.

Tissa Abeysekera worded this succinctly: "He’s moving from national identity towards universality. One saw the flowing exquisite caricatures based on local tradition with a tinge of universality in them, and now his architectural work is modern, no doubt about that."

This led to the question as to whether there is evident or discernible a dichotomy between tradition and universality, more so in an architecturally designed building. The architect’s reply was that he believes in universality in art, it gives a timeless quality to any work since timeless quality equates itself to the universal. To produce something contemporary without diluting the traditional is impossible

Another commented that she sees a growth in Samarawickrema’s work and a distinct move to serenity. The architect replied that it definitely was so, since for 30 long years he’s been continuously working, learning and thus moving on.

A further comment, if accepted in a stricter connotation could even be taken as an accusation, was that Samarawickrema’s contemporary architecture does not reflect the traditional. The architect agreed. "Modernity in style has to come in. I believe in clean lines. Take for example Japanese architecture. The Japanese aesthetic lends itself to modernity. One has to have awareness of universal trends and blend them into one’s indigenous oeuvre. Art will be lost otherwise. In my recent architectural buildings, remember they were factory complexes mostly, the modern line had to be the most outstanding feature in them. We build for others, hence our ideas, our predilections in art sometimes, or most often, have to be subsumed to the client’s ideas and demands."

The importance of grounding children on a foundation of traditional culture was stressed. Otherwise our heritage would be all but lost.(TSI)