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Discriminating against widowed mothers at Hindu weddings

In many, if not all, Hindu weddings where the bridegroom’s or bride’s mother is a widow she is sidelined in the ceremony and is treated as an outsider or an outcast.

It is time the Hindu community did away with such discriminatory treatment and superstitious practices to a mother who would have brought up her children with immense difficulties making great sacrifices, in the absence of the father of the children. She should be given the pride of place more than any other mother.



Advanced Level English

For a number of years students offering English Language as a subject at the GCE Advanced Level Examination have faced untold hardships.

Some years back it was the battle of the faculties, Peradeniya and Colombo, which affected the results of the students and now it is the ego of a few ‘English faculty know-alls’ who think that even the Queen Mother should think, talk, read and write English the way they do which is destroying the creativity of the students.

The number of failures in the subject and also the handful of A’s, B’s and C passes, compared with other subjects clearly indicate that something is amiss here.
Due to the very nature of this subject, it is extremely difficult to minimise subjectivity of different examiners by laying down clear guidelines.

Taking sadistic advantage of this situation some of the examiners who are of the view that no one could or should write better English than they do, butcher the answer scripts of the helpless students ensuring that they do not obtain high marks.
In a subject where there cannot be one correct answer these examiners keep looking for the answer that they have in mind and in the process kill the initiative of the students who are brave enough to be creative and original in their thinking, moving away perhaps from the dull standard pattern.

Fortunately, for the students who are adventurous enough to offer English language as a subject despite all its perils including the high probability of falling prey to those ghost examiners, the Department of Examination introduced the “Z” score system a few years back which evens out, to a great extent, the varying standards of average marks between different subjects.

In fact, if not for the ‘Z” score system the students who sat for English would clearly have been at a huge disadvantage.
However, even with the “Z” score system there are numerous disadvantages if one selects English as a subject. The main such disadvantage is the comparative difficulty in obtaining “A” passes for all three subjects with an “A” for English being highly elusive with a miserly one or two A’s per year. This is considered a distinct disadvantage if the student concerned is aspiring to apply for a foreign university which insists on three A passes, whatever the subjects be.

When there is a wide disparity in the grades of different subjects of the same examination year after year it is evident that there is a problem in existence. Hence, it is up to the authorities to look at this problem carefully and resolve same without delay if they are to prevent students from completely moving away from offering English language as a subject at the Advanced Levels.

Students who suffer at the hands of their incompetent examiners have little solace as even the facility to have the answer scripts re-corrected is reported to be reduced to a meaningless exercise with only the adding of the total marks being checked at re-correction.
Hon. Minister of Education we urge you to inquire into this as a matter of priority.

Manel Perera


Valentine’s Day Festival of the heart

Saint Valentine patron, friend of lovers from time immemorial
A significant day set apart for lovers, astromingly(?) ceremonial
Its between true lovers tokens exchanged, symbol of love
Rewarding, appreciating, loving, the one you admire, adore ‘n love
At the shrine of love, a pledge whispered ever to depart
To hold the key of love forever, to your better half, one ‘n only golden heart
Valentine untrustingly thrust upon arrows of romantic cupid so smart ‘n gay
Like a soft melody never fade away, lifelong journey’s pathway
Enriching life each passing pleasant day, without a say
Nurturing, caring, sharing, together, loving ardent way
Originally a festival day for shepherds in honour of Faunas, a rural deity
Age old custom to choose sweethearts, on this anniversary, 14th February
Traditional belief, birds also select inseparable mates
In unbroken continuity a magnificent day to select life’s stalemates
The only countenance you yearn to see, the only voice to hear,
Nestle in particular heart, to share dreams reality, specifically dear
Time honoured customs still flourish with celebrations
Traditional ways likely to go on for numerous generations
The legend behind Valentine Day, Festival of the heart will remain forever
To evoke blessings of St. Valentine, to woo, coo, now’n forever.

Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon


Delivery of letters at the doorstep

I write with reference to the article written by Kushali Athukorale, and wish to express my sincere congratulations to the Deputy Minister of Post and Telcommunications Hon. Mr. Sivalingam Sellasamy for having initiated the delivery of letters on estates right to the workers’ doorstep.

Having been a Tea cum Rubber Planter for almost 40 years, I cannot, while extending my congratulations to the Deputy Minister, ignore the misconception, or his vivid imagination that as stated in the article “The workers trekked to the Head Office to collect their mail.” Each estate consisted of one or more divisions and each division had a ‘Muster Podiyan’ or ‘Tappal Boy,’ who would take the Divisional Books and other daily records to the Head Office each morning, and would return in the afternoon with the same books and records plus any mail for the Assistant Superintendent, the Divisional Staff and workers, which would then be distributed to the addressee. There have been a few occasion where a letter with the same name might have been wrongly sorted out at the Head Office, but this would be sent back the next day, depending on the distance between the divisions or even sent back in the lorry transporting the tea or rubber to the factory for redistribution.

In the old Agency House days, as well as in the days the ‘Thottams’ were nationalised I can confidentially state that the practice stated above was carried out on all Plantations, except may be a few around Ramboda District.

Having known the Hon. Mr. Sangaraligam Sivalingam for being a very tenacious trade union activist, and a union representative in many Plantation Districts, this matter would have been taken up with the estate management without the blinking of an eye lid, had his ‘Thalivar’ or Estate leader made a complaint.

It would be fitting for a man of his standing, not make vividly imaginative statements as was the practice with all trade union leaders when making demands upon the Estate Management.

Peter Weerakoon
Ex-Planter, Harrison and Crosfields Ltd and Janatha Estates Developement Board



J.E. John Rodrigo

Twenty nine years ago on February 7, 1980, John Rodrigo, distinguished son of Negombo, passed away leaving behind a vacuum in the city’s leadership yet to be filled.

John Rodrigo was a versatile gentleman whose comparatively short lifespan of 62 years was eventful and multifaceted - Educator, Administrator, Social Worker, Parliamentarian and Diplomat. In all these roles, John Rodrigo was a man of principle and a man of conscience who remained true to himself and his beliefs under all circumstances and at all times.

As commerce teacher at Maris Stella, as Administrative Secretary of the Ceylon National Chamber of Commerce, as Mayor of Negombo, whatever the era, whatever the circumstances, he performed his duties with honesty, sincerity and commitment and won for himself national recognition when Madame Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Prime Minister, appointed him as Member of Parliament from 1970 – 1972 representing minority interests. His speeches in Parliament were always delivered with a fine sense of professionalism and focus, bereft of petty acrimony and abuse.

The people of Negombo rejoiced when he was appointed the country’s ambassador to Italy – an assignment he served with distinction from 1973 to 1977. Anura Bandaranaike in his many conversations with me often referred to his visits to Italy when John Rodrigo was ambassador and described John Rodrigo as a “Suave Diplomat” who represented his country with great pride and honour. In the words of Anura, John Rodrigo’s role as ambassador was embellished by the elegance, the grace and the magnanimity of his wife, Mignonne – A Lady whom we continue to hold in much affection and respect.

Above all, John Rodrigo was a noble man who lived a life influenced by Christian values of simplicity, charity and patience. Although a member of the aristocratic landed gentry and a man of substantial affluence, he never flaunted his wealth. He abhorred ostentation and entourage. He often commuted to work by train chatting freely with his wide circle of friends and Maristonians. At 6.00 p.m. in the evening he would walk home leisurely from the railway station with his slightly tilted gait, brief case in hand and a smile for all who crossed him.

These are the qualities which endeared himself to a wide circle of friends with whom he interacted as Secretary of the Maris Stella OBA, Charter President of the Lions Club of Negombo and President of the Negombo Bharatha Association.
On a personal note, on December 4, 1972 John Rodrigo gave me a testimonial which supported the progress of my career in the Sri Lanka Administrative Service. This document is yet one of my treasured possessions. I visited him often at the National Chamber office in the Fort YMBA building whenever I needed access to data on trade and commerce. Those were the days when there was no Internet – but John Rodrigo was always willing to open his files for us.

A recalcitrant tenant refused to vacate his ancestral home on his return to Sri Lanka on completion of his tenure in Italy. Despite his friendship with the highest in the land, John Rodrigo never resorted to extra judicial processes to recover his property. Instead he shifted residence to Ratmalana and patiently endured much inconvenience till the law took its course and he was able to return home and to his beloved Negombo.

The family and the church were pivotal to his life. He placed the highest emphasis on education and as a result his three sons achieved excellence in their professions. Nihara, his first born, could well have been the country’s Attorney General if not for his untimely exit from the AG’s Dept.

We who were privileged to have been friends of John Rodrigo recollect with nostalgia his affable ways and charming style always reaching out to those in need. Such men are rare.

Like Sir Thomas Moore, the Lord Chancellor and Catholic Martyr in the Tudor Court of King Henry VIII, John Rodrigo died “as His Majesty’s Good Servant……….. But God’s First”

Merrick Gooneratne




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