New look Sri Lanka | Daily News

New look Sri Lanka

They came in hordes! From where? They came from nowhere! They came from everywhere! They had determination written all over their faces. They were determined to activate the much sought after change. The change in the surroundings they have had to endure with much protest. They were a motley crowd comprising teachers, schoolchildren, university students and several members from the social strata.

The whole environment was like a scene from hell. There was garbage thrown in every nook and corner. It was a smelly affair. The walls were dirtied with the posters of power-crazy politicians and money-crazy educational tuition salesmen. It was an awesome sight!

They were disappointed but were determined to find a way to change this unclean environment. This is how they started it all. The determination and the dedication that brought them together, even without knowing each other, they began to paint the town in red, white and blue! It was a colour carnival.

It was also an exercise to free themselves from the shackles that had tied them down to a set up which was equal to slavery, for 71 years of so-called freedom or Independence. During this period of Independence, due to the fetters introduced by the foreign invaders and their henchmen, they (the youth) were exploited, misinformed and misdirected and were treated like vermin who should be eradicated.

The change they had been expecting came suddenly last November. It was freedom from all the shackles and fetters that they have had to suffer for ages. The spirit of the change that emanated from the ideological upheaval reminded us of the famous poem created by India’s greatest poet Rabindranath Tagore. “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high” and “Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake”. And they came without fear, holding their heads high and started to break lose from whatever the fetters that had been blocking their path to freedom of thought, creativity and all other imaginative activities.

They had been bound by family traditions, tied down by the societal norms and values and also forced to follow the path towards personal success by following educational ideas outdated and alien to their needs and interests.

To cap it all most of them came to the urban areas or shall we say concrete jungles, from villages which were natural habitats emanating clean air and water, rich with sunlight, green trees and vines and multi-coloured flowers.

This uncontaminated environment was able to influence the goodness and happiness in the minds of the humans living there.

Unclean surroundings

They were forced to come to the towns to seek better living conditions and so-called progress. Instead what they found was a mad rush to beat (even kill) each other and also to be tied down by all sorts of shackles and fetters that blocked their intended path. The free and natural environment they were forced to abandon was not visible in the urban concrete jungle where they encountered and intimidated with filthy and unclean surroundings. No one cared and no one did anything to change this situation. The vermin living in those areas seem to be enjoying it.

They had to rebel against all these so-called urban forms of civilization comprising static and outdated educational reforms, inhuman technological innovations and also the drab and dirtied environment which had a devastating effect on their down-to-earth lifestyle. In order to rebel against these conditions, the only path they could take was to act according to their authentic sentiments that they had been provided by the genes of their ancient ancestors who were blessed with a natural environment in the caves. In addition to the greenery and colourful surroundings they enjoyed they adorned the cave walls with everyday memories and incidents.

From the prehistoric era design and artwork had been an important part of the priorities they followed regarding the environment where the human beings had to abide by. It was the aesthetic sense that helped them to lead a happy and useful life. Evidence of this can be seen in the caves they existed. The rock decorations you find on the walls of their caves show how the early man expressed their aesthetic concepts and transformed unlivable and rough social environment into a place where they could lead a peaceful and comfortable life.

With the change to the technological age, that came about after the Industrial revolution, humans have had to suppress their natural aesthetic sense to welcome an uncompromising and never-ending struggle to gain the much sought after progress and development, in other words to end up in a tech-savvy world, which of course brought about great changes to their lifestyles. Despite this, hidden deep in their hearts was the existence of the aesthetic sense they had inherited from their cave-dwelling ancestors. Although they were concerned about technological development, they couldn’t avoid or abandon the urge to beautify the environment they had to live forever.

This situation was similar to the present day youth who had been lurking in this drab and outrageous urban jailhouse and waiting for the right moment to break away from all these shackles and seek a new and fresh life. As mentioned earlier the much expected moment arrived suddenly with a dedicated effort to bring in an era of societal safety, innovative creativity that would fulfill their sentiments and desires.

The result was a kind of a revolutionary act. A sort of a Ghandian sacrifice. Influenced and guided by the genes of their ancestors. They together with other brothers and sisters unknown to each other but who were influenced and inspired by the same aesthetic sense, started this rebellious act of removing the drabness as well as the unclean and contaminated environs by creating various colourful vistas that had been entrenched and deep-rooted in their psyche.

The motifs they used to adorn the dirtied urban walls were a sort of a montage of vistas from the heritage, history of their mother country – Sri Lanka, and also encounters and unforgettable encounter in their personal lives. The colourful temple paintings and traditional Sinhala designs were seen taking pride of the place in almost all the decorated walls. The legend of Ravana, the historic battle between King Dutugemunu and Elara and many other victorious episodes from Sri Lanka’s history were displayed in a lifelike manner.

LTTE terrorists

Another unforgettable experience that all of us had to face was the protracted war with the LTTE terrorists. The victorious soldier heroes with blackened faces, carrying deadly machine guns and mortars and also ammo belts around their necks were an inspiring sight on the walls. Another striking episode prominently displayed was how Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, the defence attaché of the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, pointed his finger to the Lion symbol on his shirt sleeve after making the famous throat-cutting gesture to the picketing Tamil diaspora members.

It is a change that has been sought after for a very long period. The urban areas in Sri Lanka are getting a new look. A colourful and stimulating outlook! As we expected this kind of radical change in every sphere, as a start outdoor beautification has given a considerable effect on the psyche of the inhabitants in the towns.

Towns were like jails where every human being had to lead a life of a jailbird-get up in the morning, get ready to go to work or school, catch the overcrowded bus or train, or drive through roads full of slow moving traffic, go to the work place, work with same looking ugly and frustrated faces, come back to the same home and family you have been living with for ages. What a dreary and drab way of living? But you have to bear it up till you die.

In addition the dismal environments bring more doom to your life. A change in the physical environment, the biological environment and also the socio-cultural environment would bring a lively change to the whole dismal situation.

Environment does not include only clean air, water, land, sunlight, and other natural criteria such as green trees and colourful flowers but also should include a sense of aesthetic outlook. Citizenry in villages experience all these factors and as a result seem to be leading a stress-free and peaceful living condition.

Urban areas or concrete jungles

All the adverse effects are mostly experienced by the humans living in urban areas or concrete jungles. The drabness that induces frustration resulting in resentment that envelopes the lives of all the town folk. It is a kind of living hell! This horrendous situation seems to be troubling their progeny too. The outcome is very much complicated. They get involved in drugs and other criminal activities and also participate in demos, pickets and other protests against the establishment and get beaten by police batons and water cannons.

What should be done to counter this distressing and miserable situation?

Painting the town area with colourful vistas will be a very constructive suggestion. This vibrant and picturesque environment would remove the gloom, lethargy and other defeatist feelings that affects the minds of these town folk.

At present this is what is happening in almost all the urban areas in Sri Lanka. It was a kind of a protest or shall we say a new way to come together and show their solidarity towards a cause. They volunteered to change the drab surroundings and bring colour to the lives of all the human beings living in the towns. It was a revolutionary thought process or a multiple effort by frustrated but creative set of human beings who had resisted the lethargy and sluggish attitudes of the societal leaders and their followers.

It was a peaceful revolution influenced mainly by their aesthetic sense.

How on earth did this come about? Their hope for an enlightened change came with the advent of the “Freedom Fighter” who arrived at the most appropriate moment when the whole country needed a change. He came, he saw and he conquered the minds of all the humans especially the youth. He was a disciplined but humane warrior who had felt and had understood the need to destroy the exploitative shackles and fetters that had been slowly and silently strangling the population.

He inspired them. He inspired their aesthetic and creative talents that had been suppressed for a very long period. The result was a beautiful and vibrant environment which has brought new life and a new outlook to all the affairs. The fact that art can be used in the nation building process has been aptly proved with the gathering of unknown talent who came forward to raise the morale of our nation.

It must also be stressed that it was not a forced act by the “Freedom Fighter”. He only inspired their minds to come forward to take on the task of nation building. It must also be emphasized that this is only the beginning of a mental revolution that will bring more changes in the socio-economic outlook of our nation. The war cry will be: “This is our nation! This is our country! We must forget all the differences and remove all the shackles and fetters that block our path to future glory. We will join together to rescue and save our nation from the enemies in and out of our shores”.

The “Freedom Fighter” who inspired this change is the seventh personality to lead the country. It is also popularly believed that number seven would bring luck to all.


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