Cultural high time | Daily News

Cultural high time

‘Cultural sensitivity’ is the best phrase that could encapsulate a unique event organized by the Colombo Branch of the Past Pupils Association (PPA) of the Mahamaya Girls’ College, Kandy recently at the Havelock City. Conducted under the of a cultural fair, with the underlying theme being ‘Agayamu, Vindinemu Apema Nimayum’ ( a bad translation being: ‘Let us Appreciate and Enjoy Our Own Creative Output’) this event artfully combined – or rather, blurred the boundaries between --- cultural discourse and cultural endeavors. For instance, when one walked into this event, which was held at an above-the-ground locality called the Club House, the very first sights that could have belied the nature of the inner core of the event to an unsuspecting, yet curious visitor, was what could be called the corridor commercial space, which had a curious mix of traditional, high-quality local food featuring the cultural nuances of both the Sinhala and Tamil communities. Mingled with the traditional food were the book stalls from Vijitha Yapa and M D Gunasena, where a large collection of books were on display, from history to hysteria, and crime to cake baking. As if this concoction was not heady enough there was an exclusive hand-made jewelry counter. Of course, cultural sensitivity is not for the faint hearted – one would need to walk into the auditoriums to hear the program on offer introduced by Dr. Hemamala Ratwatte. Dr. Ratwatte’s introduction was aptly complimented when the country’s most famed Sinhala Professor J B Disanayaka deftly undertook a linguistic analysis of the Guttila Kaavya whereby skill of the original writer of the poem was rediscovered and cherished by an equally skilled articulator of the Sinhala language.

Disanayaka was only the tip of the ice berg, there were host of others: Indrani Meegama and Kamalika Pieris expounding the and analyzing their efforts to recapture the history of their schools, Mahamaya and Ananada, through their textual exercises titled ‘With a Fistful of Rice’ and ‘Kularatne of Ananda’; Lucien Bulathsinhala combining art (Lyrics) and principles (media ethics) in a spell binding lecture; English poet and short story writer Kamala Wijeratne offering her own take on the Sinhala poem Ehelepola Kumaihamy; Deepthi Horagoda taking the viewers on a gastronomic journey through an exposition of the Last Kandyan dynasty’s recipes; Sachitra Mahendra explaining the ideology behind his Buddhist-inspired novel ‘Didulana Duhuvilla’ and also offering an interesting take on the controversial episode involving Ven Gnanasara thero; poets Vivimarie Vanderpoorten, Ramya Charmalie Jirasinghe and Lalitha Wirasinghe displaying their inner souls as poets and philosophers through their work; Dr Asanatha Attanayake illustrating the inner workings and the inspirations of her poem Saddantha Premaya; Prof Sunnanda Mahendra engaging in an aesthetically-charged Kavi Maduwa; Padma Edirisighe baring the soul of her textual enterprise on Dona Catherina, titled ‘From Flower to Pawn’; and Dr Janaki Jayawardena engaging the audiences with her own perspectives on Lorna Devaraja’s classic book ‘Kandyan Kingdom’; the author Daya Dissanayake exploring the act of translation with Dr. Asantha Attanayaka; Attanayake M Herath taking the audiences through the GCE O/L and A/L Sinhala Literature syllabuses; Timan Keerthi and Dhananath with their own exposition of Yannang Chandare.

The present students of Mahamaya Girls possibly blurred the time-space between them and the PPA by powering the Cultural Fair with innovative renditions of Kumaratunga Munidasa’a play ‘Hath Pana’ and the ancient dance tune Gajaga Wannama. The mother of all Sri Lanka’s chefs, Koluu, provided a grand lunch-time cookery demonstration whose core was his intrinsic innovation, and his great ability to make a great Prawn Curry without a lot of fuss and chemicals. Sri Lanka’s ace story teller Sybil Wettasinghe, meanwhile, captivated the younger audiences with her own inimitable story telling. All in all, it was an unforgettable evening of cultural appreciation and sensitization – equally complemented by intellectual contemplation. Possibly, one year would have to pass before one could experience this feeling once again. 

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