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Letters


Readers please note it is essential that all letters to the Editor carry the full name and address of the writer, even if it has to appear under a pseudonym. This applies to all email letters as well.

 

                               APPRECIATION                          

Prof. Merrille Perera

A professor dedicated to his profession

Prof Merrille Perera was a multifaceted gentleman who in his 81 years on earth beneficially touched the lives of many.
Merrille was my brother and the third in our family of nine children. We were a closely knit family and grew up in a very happy and comfortable home provided by our parents Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Perera at “Gracelyn”, Koralawella, Moratuwa. Our home was always filled with fun and laughter while at the same time strict discipline was maintained and rules had to be obeyed. From our early life, our parents instilled into their children worthy values and attitudes.

Merrille was the live wire of the family, the hub of all activity, He organised games, carom and badminton tournaments, picnics, sports meets, etc. He founded a club which included our neighbours and friends and named it the ‘Meriland Cricket Club.’


Merrille was a gifted writer and edited a Family Newsletter which he sold to us for 5 cents a copy He made a small profit for pocket money from advertisements. I recall that my elder sister Phoebe who was a talented pianist, advertised. ‘Piano Lessons’ at 50 cents an hour and I advertised ‘fresh eggs’ from my poultry yard.
Christmas and the Church feast were special occasions for celebration, with a full house of relatives visiting us. Here again, it was Merrille who drew up the programme for the day, starting with a river bath, followed by three cards and poker and a sumptuous lunch with ‘black pork curry’ always on the menu. The highlight of the celebrations was the family concert in which even my mother took part. I remember the superb dance performance Merrille gave as Carmen Miranda. On another occasion, he was excellent as Hadjiar in a scene taken from the play ‘Fifty Fifty.’
From his early life Merrille wanted to become a doctor. When we were young and used to have plays, he was the Doctor and he examined us with a toy stethoscope and prescribed coloured water as medicine. We paid his fee with ‘home made’ paper money.

Merrille’s dream came true and in 1953 he became a doctor having obtained his MBBS (Cey). After his internship in Kandy he worked in Nagoda Hospital and Lady Ridgeway Hospital.

In 1960 he proceeded to UK for postgraduate studies and obtained his MRCP (Edin), MRCP (Glasgow) and DCP (London). On his return to Sri Lanka he was appointed Consultant Pathologist to the Colombo South Hospital and later Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital. After retiring from Government Service he served for short time in the Middle East. On his return he was appointed Professor of Pathology of the University of Ruhuna.

Merrille was totally dedicated to his profession and after retirement he developed new skills. He was a man with many interests and hobbies, Painting was one of them. His work was exhibited thrice in group exhibitions at the Lionel Wendt.

Subsequently he became interested in pressed flowers and was soon making wall hangings and bookmarks. Whatever he did he did with dedication and enthusiasm. He was a ‘Bonsai’ enthusiast and his work was on exhibition on several occasions. He was the Vice President of the Ceylon Bonsai Club.

His next interest was scrabble. He wrote a book titled ‘Scrabble Made Easy’. He was elected President of the Sri Lanka Scrabble Club.

One of the final tasks he undertook was writing a book on ‘Cancer.’
As a person, Merril1e was very friendly, lovable and jovial. '


He will be sadly missed by his wife of 53 years Bernadette who looked after him well right through their married life and by his children Dr. Sunimali and Sohan and his grandchildren whom he doted on.'

Merrille Aiya, though you are no more, you will remain in our hearts and minds.
Chrissie Aloysius

*****

Light of Sri Lanka

Most Venerable Mahinda Thera’s historic advent
Uncountable years ago in this tear drop isle so verdant
Proved his highly wondrous powers so lore
Changed many an aspect in Sri Lanka of yore.

Enriched arts, crafts, sculpture, economy, cultural heritage
Sinhala race rose to zenith, super glory, a trustful bondage
Saintly figure Venerable Mahinda, established Buddha Sasana undaunted courage
Arahan Mahinda light of Sri Lanka exponent, clear words of Buddha spread his message

Arahan Mahinda’s meeting King Devampiyatissa
Is elaborated in the literary source, the Mahawansa
Arahan Mahinda volunteered to visit humble isle Sri Lanka
At the request of his thoughtful father, King Asokha of India.

His meeting the king, small but pleasant plateau, then popular as Ambastale
Ceremonial occasion along the rock strewn steps at Mihintale
Memorable significant day recorded in Buddhist history
The moment great awakening for Sri Lanka, a day of festivity.

His brief conversation to judge kings powers of wisdom
Launched an era of a virtuous kingdom
Noble Mahinda Thera chanted maiden serman Chullahaththipadopama Sutta
First delivered by the omniscient Thathagata, Gautama Buddha

Thus laid foundation in this island, perpetual illumination of Dhamma in serenity
The first discourse of Arahat Mahinda rapidly showered peace ’n prosperity
Forty thousand followers flocked to join new faith Buddhism
People humbly rejoined newly found salvation, Mahinda Thera’s great mission

Dedicated life for weal ‘n happiness of people in this fair isle
Made the island bright with compassion, endeared himself to us in this isle
To commemorate the holiest day for Buddhist in Sri Lanka, Poson Poya, today
A lamp be lit in every Buddhist home to venerate Mahinda Thera today ‘n each Poya day.

Ever grateful thousands of devotees trek 1840 rocky steps to pay homage
The holy spot at Mihintale with whole hearted devotion, annual pilgrimage
Buddhists in Sri Lanka are ever grateful to great Arahan Mahinda
For introducing Buddhism, made the island bright with religious fervour expounded Dhamma.

Kumari Kumarasighe Tennakoon

****

Remembering Arahant Mahinda on Poson Day

In the stillness of the night this Poya day,
Full moon shone brightly in the milky-way,
Casting its benign look on the human race,
Heralding an era for man to be humane.

Bathed in the moon light at Mihintale,
Stood Arahant Mahinda in all his grace,
Bringing a message from King Asoka the Great,
To King Devanampiyatissa of Lanka’s fame.

He saw Devanampiyatissa giving chase,
With bow and arrow, taking aim,
At a deer, running, knowing its fate,
That was the picture on this eventful day.

Tissa! Tissa! called Mahinda, far away,
The King was aghast; who could call my name?
Seeing a halo on the rock at Mihintale,
He left his chase and obeisance he paid.

While preaching the Dhamma, in silence, Tissa stayed
Gave up his chase; Dhamma he embraced,
Enthroned Buddhism as religion of the state,
To rule the country in the Buddhist way.

Let Arahant Mahinda be remembered on this holy day,
Seek solace in the sublime Dhamma way,
According to .the preaching of Buddha, a treasure he gave,
And attain Nibbana, the souless state.

G. A. D. Sirimal
Boralesgamuwa

****

Significance of Poson

“Come hither Tissa!
Samaneras are we,
O’ Great King,
Deciples of King of Truth,
From compassion towards thee,
We come thither from Jambudeepa”
(Mahawamsa)

Those were the words of Arahan Mahinda
Drawing the attention of hunter King
Devanampiyatissa
Standing on the rock of Mihintala
On Poson Day, from Emperor Asoka,

The message was the teachings of Buddha
Of commission, love and his Dhamma
Hearing and convinced of the Dhamma
Enthroned Buddhism as the religion
Giving splendour

Thenceforth this country flourished, no wonder
Bringing in a new sphere in our culture
Let us on this Poson Day revere/ remember
That great, hallowed name Arahan Mahinda.

Dilum Gardiarachchi
Colombo 6

****

Food for thought for SLC selectors for T/20 World Cup

At present and in the recent past there have been several Tests, ODIs and T/20 series between countries having ICC test status. When the names of players in the participating countries are read, it is clearly learnt that only Sri Lanka fields more or less the same team for the different formats of the game. The only exception is that the selectors named a few talented new names in the squad for the only T/20 match played that was played in Sri Lanka, which followed the five ODIs played against India. In that particular match, Sri Lanka nearly won the match mainly owing to the contributions made by the novices. The Pathan brothers took the match away from us in the final three overs with some lusty hitting off our experienced bowlers.

The first T/20 World Cup is to be held in England is just less than two months away and a domestic Inter Provincial T/20 tournament has at the time of writing has reached the final league round. Among those who have excelled to date have been Indika de Saram, Chintaka Jayasinghe and Tharanga Lakshita. The former two have, in addition to aggregating the most number of runs, have strike rates of 153/84 and 174/69 while the latter, a pacie has had 11 scalps at an amazing average of 6/81.There have been many other outstanding performances by many uncapped players surpassing the performances of the veterans. It needs to be emphasised that the T/20 is different to Test and One Day cricket. There should be six or more players in the team like in the Indian team who should be capable of going over the top with ease with good timing and precise foot work. The Indian batsmen should be emulated by us. Even the lower order batsmen like Harbajhan Singh and Zaheer Khan, score runs by hitting huge sixes with ease which most of our batsmen are not capable of. Those selected should have the ability to score boundaries and sixes and should be aware that every dot ball counts in the final analysis.

The present skipper Kumar Sangakkara is game for the multiple captain concept and is thumbs up to John Buchaman’s concept of multiple captains. He strongly believes that leadership is ‘situational’ and the concept according to him is very interesting and the concept is all about using the best man for a specific situation. He has gone on to say that the traditional practices and idea of one captain doing all the work is never really true.

In respect of selections in the current T/20 series involving Australia, South Africa and the West Indies and England, the respective countries had named new talented faces and it had paid off many times. Australia had named in their squad Warner, Harwood, Laughlin and Fergusion while South Africa had included Louw, Abdulla,Van der Merwe. The latter was named the ‘Player of the Match’ in the 2nd T/20 for his blistering 48 runs in 28 balls with 2 fours and 4 sixes against the mighty Aussies. The West Indies played unheard Simmons, Pollard, Miller and Baker for the 4th ODI played at the Kensington Oval on March 29. New Zealand too in the present Tests against India had named new comers Ryder, O’Brien and Martin. The former scored a double hundred in the 2nd Test just concluded and was named ‘Player of the Match.’

It is time that our selectors change their former attitudes and select those talented players who have been performing well in the past domestic tournaments and in the present on going Inter Provincial T/20 who performs admirably thus doing justice to our cricket. Those deprived in being selected earlier should be given a chance to show their mettle. Otherwise our cricket would never prosper.

Sunil Thenabadu
Mount Lavinia

****

Polygamy

Polygamy is of two types. One is polygamy – a man marries more than one woman. The other is polyandry – a woman marries more than one man. In Islam, the former is neither encouraged nor prohibited. It is allowed under very strict conditions. The latter is completely prohibited in Islam.

The advantages of polygamy are:
1. A man need not patronise the brothels masquerading as massage parlours.
2. No need to have extra-marital affairs or secret promiscuous connections, girl friends, etc.
3. It solves the problem of women outnumbering men.
4. Modesty of women is preserved, as their position is not that of a mistress.
5. In general, men are polygamous in nature while women are not.
There are important conditions to be fulfilled when a man has several wives. He has to be neutral in outward treatments such as providing food, clothing and accommodation. Companionship with wives must be equally divided. Control of mind is in the hands of Allah and so man is not guilty, if his mind naturally turns to one wife, but he should treat equally all his wives regarding residence and company.

Even in the Holy Quran it is said that, “You can never be equitable in dealing with more than one wife, no matter how hard you try. Therefore, do not be so biased as to leave one of them hanging (neither enjoying marriage, nor left to marry someone else). If you correct this situation and maintain righteousness, Allah is Forgiver, Most Merciful.” (Surah Nisa – Verse 129)
Ayesha (one of Prophet’s wives) reported that Prophet (pbuh) used to take turns among his wives and do justice. He used to say: “O Allah! This is my division in what I can control. So don’t blame me in what Thou dost control about what I cannot control.” (Tirmidhi, Abu Daud, Ibn Majah – Authentic books of Prophet’s quotes)

As regards selecting a bride, Ma’qal b Yasar, a companion of Prophet, reported that Prophet (pbuh) said, “Marry such women as are affectionate, child-producing and verily I shall be an instrument of increasing the numbers among the nations.”
Subesquent to publication of my previous article on the above subject, I got calls, SMSs and e-mails from my friends and relatives, asking me, why I decided to write on polygamy, why I’m promoting polygamy, whether I’ve become a polygamist, and I even got a call from Riyadh from a good friend of mine whether I’m intending to go for a second marriage! To all of them, I would like to say that I have to be a monogamist because I’m married to a cousin of mine who will not allow me to become a bigamist and to become a quadrigamist is out of the question!

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

****

Draping of robes on bodhi trees

A letter which appeared in your issue of May 3, 2009 entitled ‘A recent innovation not complying with Buddhist principles’ spurred me to request clarification of this ritual and other Amisa Poojas.

Pooja rituals are done by devotees at bodhi trees whilst conducting Bodhi Poojas all over the island. Can Buddhists make vows and ask for favours at bodhi trees to be fulfilled after their personal requests are granted? Not only bodhi trees but even Ruwanseli Dagaba is draped with cheevaras by groups of devotees whilst making vows at these places of worship. Can an erudite monk quote the Sutta where the Buddha has sanctioned these Amisa Pooja rituals done by Buddhists all over the island?
Where is it mentioned by the Buddha that devotees should worship Buddha statues, dagabas and bodhi trees and ask for favours for the fulfillment of their personal needs?
A comprehensive reply will be timely and appreciated.

L. Peiris
Matale

****

What happens to toilet waste in aeroplanes?

We have regular thunder showers these days. Of course, many curse the rain but it is a blessing that we do not give enough recognition to.

In fact, once when it started raining Prophet (sal) went and stood in the rain, removing his overcoat, so that the rain water fell on his back. When asked why he replied, up until this time this water was with my Lord! He also said that when one makes a supplication during rain, it is more likely to be answered.

My daughter loves to rollick in the rain. Whenever it rains she puts on a raincoat and runs around in the garden.
However, a cartoon in the newspaper changed all that. There was a conversation about what happens to the toilets in the aeroplane and the reply given was that it is flushed down. So is the rain water clean is a question that nagged her.

So I did little search and this is what I found.
Airlines are not permitted to dump toilet waste. The waste is kept in
tanks until landing and then the ground crew pumps out the tanks and
hauls the waste to a treatment facility.
From the Chicago O’Hare Flight Standards District Office.

Many people are of the assumption that aircraft lavatories dump
overboard when they are flushed, this is not the case. Lavatory
waste is contained on the aircraft in a holding tank until the
aircraft lands. When the aircraft is safely on the ground, only
ground crew personnel may operate the valve to dump the waste tank.
While in flight it is physically impossible for the pilots to dump the
waste water because the valve is usually located on the exterior of
the aircraft.

Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai - Dehiwela

****

Statesmanlike statement by the President

For the first time in the recent history of Sri Lanka an ennobling thought had been pronounced by a Lankan politician. President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his inspiring speech in Parliament on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 said that there are no more minorities in the island and they are all Lankans with equal status (implying irrespective of racial, religious and other differences caused by an accident of birth). As a member of the Thamil-speaking community I salute and thank the President for publicly declaring a sublime thought.

At the same time, I have apprehensions whether the extreme nationalists (or shall we say chauvinists) among us would allow us to practise what had been declared as a piece of supreme wisdom. How this majoritarianism phobia could be erased from the psyche of a few marginal people among us is a question that the rest of us must strive to drive home via religious, educational and media institutions.
I pray that the President’s idealistic thought soon becomes a reality.

K S Sivakumaran
Colombo 06

****

 

 

 

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