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|Significance of Navarathri
Hindus observe Navarathri Pooja for nine nights in the Thamil month
of Puraddathi. Navarathri means nine nights.
It is also called Sakthi Valipadu, means prayer to Sakthi, the
consort of Lord Siva. Hindus from time immemorial worshipped Sakthi,
the divine mother. Bharathi, the great poet and an ardent devotee of
Parasakthi said that one could get more boons if he or she
surrenders to Ambikai, the divine mother.
Navarathri Pooja starts with Kumbam, which is placed to invite
Shakthi to make abode on it by chanting manthrams. Kumbam means a
pot of water adorned with a husked coconut and mango leaves
representing the deity. Since pooja is offered to Kumbam during
Navarathri, it is also called ‘Kumba Pooja’.
During Navarathri (nine nights), the first three nights are
dedicated to Goddess Dhurga, the next three days to Goddess of
Wealth, Lakshumi and the last three days to Goddess of Knowledge,
Saraswathy. Dhurga is worshipped to get her blessings for strength,
Lakshumi for wealth and Saraswathy for education. In mundane life,
one needs these three elements to live a good life.
The 10th day falls on the lunar day Thasami, and it is called
It is an auspicious day.
Small children are introduced to their first alphabet on this
Generally, Hindus start new ventures on this day with the belief
that it would bring success in future.
There is a puranic story connected to Navarathri.
A powerful demon called Mahisasuran, who made others to suffer by
his cruel acts. When his cruelty became unbearable, people prayed to
Sakthi to save them from Mahisasuran. Sakthi took the form of Dhurga
and killed the demon. Since Ambigai annihilated Mahisasuran, she is
A religious observance in the name of Manampoo is performed in
temples to mark this event.
Navarathri Pooja is observed in temples, houses, schools, offices
and workshops. On the Wijeyathasami day, many cultural programmes
such as religious speeches, music and dance are arranged especially
at schools and Hindu religious organisations for moral, material and
The inner meaning of worship of Dhurga, Lakshumi and Saraswathy is
to attain the supreme bliss that is the atma (soul) to unite with
K K Arumainayagam
Darling Thaththi, we miss you greatly
One year ago, our precious father, Lalith Ranjan Sarath Guneratne,
mostly known as L R S among the Richmondites, left us to crossover
to be with our heavenly Father.
He was ill only for a brief period of three months, that we felt he
was robbed from us.
He was a very loving and caring husband to our mother, affectionate
brother to Bappa and adoring grandfather to little Ransith.
Any child would dream to have a couple like them as parents, and we
were so lucky to be their children.
Thaththi was a very understanding person and was gentle and easy
He was our mother’s best friend.
In the 34-year and 10-month married life they spent together, they
were always together.
They did things together.
They shared their happiness and sorrow together and they were there
for each other in sickness and in health.
While Thaththi was in the ICU about two weeks before he passed away,
he had told the nurses that he felt lonely without his wife.
That is what they shared.
Thaththi always showed his love by his actions, to Ammi and also to
Thaththi’s interests were wide ranging.
He was an ardent fan of sports. Being an athlete himself in the
early 1960’s at Richmond College, Galle and being very good at it,
he loved watching and discussing sports, especially athletics and
He would not move from the seat when he was watching a cricket
match, and our mother was unable to get anything done on a day like
He used to give us calls and inform the score and discuss as to what
He was so passionate about the game, that both of us have also
become big cricket fans.
Thaththi was a man with a very big heart to help others.
He used to help any person in his means, no matter rich or poor.
He has taken sick people to hospital in the middle of the night on
numerous occasions, even during curfew, sometimes without even
thinking about his safety.
He associated with almost everyone in the village, that everybody
This was evident by the number of people who attended his funeral.
Everyone had something good to tell about him.
Thaththi had a deep and abiding Christian faith.
He was very active and loved in our church, Holy Trinity Church,
He also actively participated in Christian activities in the
Southern Province area.
He loved his school - Richmond College, Galle - very much.
In our small days, when we asked him to tell us a story, he used to
tell us stories about his experiences as a student, hosteller and a
All those stories were very interesting that we loved every bit of
He never did anything, expecting something in return.
He was the Treasurer of the Richmond College OBA for five years and
he was very dedicated to that.
He was known among the Richmondites by his initials L R S.
The father is the biggest source of strength for a child.
The innocent eyes of a child see a father as the all-powerful, most
knowledgeable, truly affectionate and the most important person in
We were privileged to have a wonderful father with all these
qualities and who loved us with all his heart and cared for us with
all his might.
He couldn’t sleep when we were sick; he used to check about us every
He never thought of our work as trouble, and he always wanted to
have us close to him.
We adored our father.
Thaththi was the strongest, kind-hearted person we knew and someone
we aspired to follow.
Even as adults we looked up to him, for the most experienced and
honest advice that was always in the best of our interest.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children. Instead, bring them up in
the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4.
Thaththi followed this Bible passage in every way.
He never made us angry by the way he treated us.
He understood us very well.
He knew what both of us were capable of and advised us when needed.
He never forced us to do things.
He always allowed us to make choices in life and guided us all the
He was always there for us when we needed him. He was our guiding
For this great figure, we, as your children pay our humblest
“Darling Thaththi, we miss you greatly. But we know that you are in
a dwelling place, prepared by our heavenly Father, in the land that
is fairer than day.”
Lakshmindra and Priyeshni Guneratne
|Karu Jayasuriya’s show of courage
As a Sri Lankan, I want to applaud Karu Jayasuriya for his recent
statement on the state of the nation.
Jayasuriya has had the courage and the conviction to call a spade a
This, to my mind, is a rare commodity in our land today.
Therefore, I am not sure whether the Colombo-based press will ever
publish this letter!
I read all the English dailies and weeklies and my understanding is
that the fourth estate which should be creating good public opinion
is not welcoming opinions from the people in the country.
Most of our papers have become full of advertisements and there is
no space for the ordinary person to write. Certain writers are given
space in the daily papers or the Sunday papers.
This is in contrast to what the press was in the years gone by.
As a person who not only reads but writes, I wrote a letter to the
Editor Economist. Within a few weeks, I got a reply from the Editor
from London, UK.
If our fourth estate wants to walk the talk with Karu Jayasuriya
then they need to find the space in the daily and Sunday papers to
get opinions from ordinary persons.
Is our fourth estate prepared to do that?
I hope so because a few years ago both the dailies and weeklies had
space for opinions of the ordinary person.
|More efforts vital to ensure
rights of differently abled people
The Supreme Court on October 14, 2009, made an order requiring
all new buildings and public access areas that are to be approved
for development be made accessible for persons with disabilities.
The first anniversary of this landmark order fell recently.
The order, which was progressive, ensured that the state was
mandated to keep in line with its fundamental obligations towards
Especially considering that Sri Lanka is coming out of 30 years of
war, with several thousand disabled persons as victims of war, it is
of utmost importance that the state and the people take active
cognizance of reality.
However, sadly, everything seems to have been forgotten and put into
the unimportant obligations bin, though the problem is still real
It is not the sole responsibility of the state to ensure that the
rights of disabled people are protected.
It is the responsibility of the entire community to ensure and
demand that the rights of the disabled persons are protected.
Therefore, the responsibility of demanding for the proper and
effective enforcement of the Supreme Court order dated October 14,
2009 is not with the administrators or the government itself, it is
the responsibility of society.
It is therefore time that we, as people of Sri Lanka, united to
raise awareness and promote the ideal enshrined in the Supreme Court
It is time that the entire nation took a keen interest in the matter
to ensure that differently able persons are given an equal
opportunity to enjoy life the way the rest of the populous does.
The first step in that journey is to ensure that all public places
have sufficient access to people with disabilities.
Therefore, it is urged on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court
order, that the general public does take a keener interest in the
matter and support the cause.
|Diaspora welcome to invest anywhere in Sri
The UNP, a Sri Lankan political party, is seeking
Indian assistance to implement a political package for the Tamils in
the North and the East.
Why is Indian intervention essential?
Does not parliamentarian Swaminathan know of the development work
that is proceeding, guided by the Mahinda Chintanaya?
He appears to be aware of the Constitution of 1978, where all
communities are declared to be citizens of Sri Lanka, with no
difference based on religion, language or ethnicity.What then could
be the political solution that Swaminathan searches for?
President Rajapaksa was elected on November 7, 2005, but, despite
his engagement in the Eelam fiasco, his attention was drawn to the
long-neglected infrastructure in the country.
Now, the road network is being developed. Roads repaired, new ones
opened together with. Irrigation around the country is being
refurbished; lighting up of the hinterland, including homesteads, is
Regarding schools that were functioning in the past, many had
less than 10 students, but had teachers for all subjects, a
principal and a vice principal whose salaries were paid by the
state. The past pupils were adept at handling guns but knew nothing
more. ‘Much of the fiasco has now been remedied.
A solution is being put in place, both in the North and the East.
The Tamil diaspora is welcome to invest anywhere in the country,
subject to the financial regulations in Sri Lanka.
The government is revamping what the LTTE destroyed.
Houses will not come up in a day, though the LTTE brought down
houses in hours and minutes.
The livelihood of resettled people is a matter for the resettled.
The government will not and should not spoon feed.
Under the new dispensation, students will be free to study
As for the numbers of students in the schools, it could well be that
students have gone South to better schools to secure a better
What is the permanent solution you seek? A Tamil homeland is it?
Though you have the backing of the international community the
government will not bow. Neither will Sri Lanka.
|Disparities in state bank pension schemes
Before the first Republican Constitution, which was passed in
Parliament in 1972, there were directives issued to the state banks
- Bank of Ceylon and People’s Bank (BOC, PB) and they maintained
pension schemes with a sense of responsibility.
Therefore, disparities couldn’t be seen in the BOC pension scheme
when comparing it to People’s Bank pension scheme unlike today.
In 1993, “The Pension Reserve Fund Account” which was maintained by
BOC was converted to a “Pension Trust Fund” showing red light to
both employees and pensioners. However, this was done with the
blessing of former union leaders of the bank.
Currently, the AGM of the Pension Trust Fund is held every year and
decisions relating to pension are taken at these meetings without
any sufficient number of pensioners being participated.
Although, trade union leaders (CBEU) and office bearers of the
respective pensioners’ associations represent the ‘pension board’
separately and even they sit in the AGM every year, pensioners’
problems seem to be remaining unresolved.
One could guess that People’s Bank Pension Trust Fund is quite
similar to the BOC fund except small differences. But it is well
known fact that on many occasions “Trustees” in both banks have
taken arbitrary decisions violating pensioners’ rights. It is the
duty of elected trustees to ensure that the regulations are
Today, state banks’ employees, who are entitled to pension, have to
depend on the money available in Pension Trust Funds. It is
regrettable to note that the pension entitlements including commuted
pension, W&OP, medical facilities are full of irregularities.
Followings are some disparities that should be addressed by the
1 PB pensioners (including spouses) are entitled for the ‘once and
for all’ facility which provides Rs.400,000 for critical illnesses
like bypass operations, kidney transplant etc; BOC pensioners are
not entitled for this.
2 PB pays 90 percent of the salary as pension (full pension) for
those who have completed 30 years of service without any condition.
But BOC pays full pension (85%) with a condition which means that
employees have to retire at the age of 55 or above even they have
completed over 30 years before reaching the 55. Otherwise they will
be deprived full pension.
3 Under BOC medical scheme, pensioners who have retired as
executives will be paid Rs.50,000/-for hospitalisations. But under
the same scheme lower grade pensioners are entitled only for
4 PB pays non-deductible commuted pension for those with over 30
years (applicable to who retired in 1977.) But BOC pays ten year
deductible commuted pension.
5 The AGM of the PB Pensioners’ Association is held every year at
the BMICH. Pensioners who attended the previously held meetings will
be well looked after and entertain them with free launch. But AGM of
the BOC Pensioners’ Association is held at district level without a
free launch (pensioners have to pay Rs.500/- for launch).
6 The rules in respect of contribution towards the W&OP were amended
by BOC recently. Accordingly, members have to contribute to the fund
only 35 years (420 months) but bank’s Superannuation Department has
over deducted contribution to W&OP from some members without
following the new regulation. Those who have victimised due to this
have not been refunded their arrears.
W G Chandrapala
(Retired bank clerk)
Opting for “Et tu....” as well
They came, see-sawed and concluded
The elephant never foretells
Guess who’s keeping them all guessing?
With such glad tidings
Good timing will tell
Irene De Silva
|More about Holy Quran
May I add a few comments on the issue of burning of copies of Holy
Quran, which was a hot topic very recently, with Reverend Terry
Jones fuelling the controversy.
Burning of the Quran is permitted in order to dispose of it, in
case, it is not in a useable state - it could be very badly torn or
According to religious scholars, it has to be done carefully and
also in a safe place.
The other methods recommended to get rid of the Quran which is not
in good condition, are to:
1 Bury in a clean place,
2 Shred it – may use the shredding machine,
3 Fasten the Quran with a heavy substance like a stone and drop it
in the river or sea.
According to some Islamic scholars, if one is able to implement the
above three methods, it would not be permitted to burn the Holy
However, if the above three methods are inconvenient to carry out,
then one may burn the Quran and bury or drown the resulting ash.