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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 Wijeyathasami.
It is an auspicious day.
Small children are introduced to their first alphabet on this auspicious day.
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 called ‘Mahisasuramarthani’.

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 spiritual uplifting.
The inner meaning of worship of Dhurga, Lakshumi and Saraswathy is to attain the supreme bliss that is the atma (soul) to unite with the ‘Paramathma’.

K K Arumainayagam



Ranjan Guneratne

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 going.
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 us.
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 cricket.
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 that.
He used to give us calls and inform the score and discuss as to what would happen.
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 knew him.
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, Patuwatha.
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 teacher.
All those stories were very interesting that we loved every bit of it.
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 the family.
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 five minutes.
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 way.
He was always there for us when we needed him. He was our guiding light.
For this great figure, we, as your children pay our humblest tribute.
“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 spade.
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.
Sydney Knight


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 society.
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 and apparent.
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 order.
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.
Thishya Weragoda


Diaspora welcome to invest anywhere in Sri Lanka

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 proceeding.

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 untrammeled.
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 education
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.

Ivor Samarasinghe


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 followed.
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 authorities.
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 Rs.32,500/-.
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)


Evergreen Endgames

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
Colombo 5


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 damaged.
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 Quran.
However, if the above three methods are inconvenient to carry out, then one may burn the Quran and bury or drown the resulting ash.

Mohamed Zahran




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