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.
|An Easter Delight
The season of Lent paves way for the splendid celebration of Easter
Sunday where the followers of Jesus Christ unite to celebrate his
resurrection and victory, painfully achieved at the Cross. Every
culture has its own influence in the observance of its religious
days and rituals. As I recollect the joyful days of years gone by
I’m sure you can relate to a few of these moments in your own lives.
As a child I remember going to the service on Good Friday at the
ancient Dutch Church along with my parents and elder sister. This
sacred edifice was referred to as Wolfhendhal Church located on the
hill within the precincts of Colombo 12. I used to be somewhat
intrigued at the graves located within this sanctuary and every year
tried to read carefully the Dutch inscription and decipher the coat
of arms on them, indeed the innocence or rather silly mind of a
young one! The service was multi-lingual and lasted almost three
hours, which did cause some worthies in the parish to mourn! I can
still smell the mild aroma of the Communion wine, the solid handmade
golden chalice from which it was severed. The rest of the day was
spent in much silence. However, over the years I have come to really
understand the genuine sacrifice of that humble carpenter’s son, to
indeed redeem an unworthy soul like me.
The following Saturday morning was a very active day as people,
even non Christians made all manner of preparations, with due
reverence, to indulge in celebrating Easter Sunday. One of the
stories rushes to my mind is how the late Uncle Vernon Prins used to
describe to us the attack on the Trincomalee Naval Base by the
Japanese, just like they did in Pearl Harbour. It is said that the
Japanese squadrons were spotted by a lone British patrol aircraft
(which was shot down later) off the seas of Koggala and the alarm
was raised in time!
A visit to the market was mandatory and I used to accompany my
father. The stalls that were mostly crowded were the ones that sold
meat and poultry. During this period eggs were in much demand and
the hens certainly ruled the day, making poultry farmers very rich!!
I must confess the members of the Burgher community excelled in such
fine culinary preparations for Easter, and the beautiful girls wore
the most creatively stitched dresses. We made all kinds of crafts at
Sunday School under the watchful eye of the amiable aunty Yvonne
Bartholomuez and aunty Maxine Janz. However, I did not pay much
attention to the requests of Aunty Helene, who played the piano and
tried to teach us new songs.
The ringing of the bells from every Cathedral and Chapel did
herald the dawn of Easter. Some expressed their joy by lighting
firecrackers. The playing of the pipe organ could be heard faintly
amidst all this clamour. We went to church, where the altar was
decorated with an abundance of fresh flowers. Thankfully, the
service lasted only an hour and then we received our almond
flavoured Easter eggs, and I recall how my buddy Rodney Patternot
was able to swallow this symbol of the resurrection in about four
seconds! The Easter Bunny did not feature prominently in our lives
in those times, except I guess in the stew pots of some dear old
aunties who wanted a change of menu. Two bakeries that were sold out
on Easter Sunday were the Perera and Sons at the Colpetty junction
and the Little Lion Store at Colombo 13.
As I became an adult the celebration of Easter was even more
enriched. Working in a city hotel we were busy weeks ahead promoting
our Sunday Buffet and making sure that all the chocolates and
gourmet cakes were sold. I remember how I used to visit two of my
dear old friends. One was the late French Benedictine priest Fr Marc
Berra and the other gentle Italian Jesuit priest Fr. Joseph Chienese,
who always prayed with me. These two missionary men served our
communities with a divine dedication.
It was also the time when my kind Uncle Justin Alvis came on his
regular three month vacations to escape the harsh winters of Canada.
Uncle Ginger as he was affectionately called was a jolly soul. I
remember going with him to purchase a duck, which almost took us two
hours to cook. Every year he made his signature dish the beef smoke.
He would carefully select a prime chunk of beef from the Dehiwela
market, down Station Road. This prized portion was slow cooked in
thick coconut milk and many a secret spice was added. Sunday lunch
was very entertaining with spicy food infused with simple humour. I
happily recall how we used to visit the Cathedral of St Lucia in the
evenings. The faithful would gather here in thousands bringing
traffic to a standstill from Armour Street to the other end at the
Forshore Police Station! I can still see the old blind man selling
tiny crosses and yellow candles. The women from Negombo selling the
old time sweets like muscat, aluwa, and kalu dhodol in their cane
Yet, apart from all these celebrations we must take time to reflect
on our lives and live with courage and faith, Animo et Fide!
D S Joseph
|Some NGOs inimical to interest
of our motherland
Last Wednesday morning I was awaiting
the “Morning Breeze”, the usual musical programme which commences
immediately after the morning news broadcast on SLBC, but it was not
to be so. Instead, there was a crucial and interesting discussion
regarding NGOs with Rajpal Abeynayake, the Editor in Chief of
Lakbima News and Malinda Seneviratne, freelance journalist as
resource personnel and Niranjan Abeysundera, Senior Broadcaster, as
In the course of the interview, it transpired that some NGOs are
dangerous in that they are inimical to the interest of our country
and are here to promote their countries agenda and are working here
with a mercenary motive. NGO’s such as Centre for Policy Planning
Alternatives (CPA), Transparency International (TI), etc, fall into
this category. It was also mentioned that the Statement of Accounts
and the Balance Sheet are not available for public perusal. I was
made to understand that these NGOs don’t like their accounts to be
audited by an independent body. It is ironical that TI, in
particular, with what it stands for, prefer to be non-transparent.
It was also said that we as Sri Lankans, are hospitable to all these
NGOs whereas in some countries it is not so.
Now we have achieved peace, which was elusive to all of us in Sri
Lanka after a great sacrifice - thanks to the President and the
Armed Forces for all their untiring efforts, I fear that allowing
these dubious organisations to operate hereafter in our motherland
is no doubt detrimental to the interest and therefore, all these
NGOs very likely to destabilise the peace anytime and moreover,
foment other issues in Sri Lanka should be banished immediately.
Hope, the President will instigate action to scrutinise the
activities of all these so called NGOs and act fast without any
hesitation whatsoever, to send these dangerous ones back to their
|Poor showing of UNP at last election
That the UNP would not win the Local Government Elections was a
foregone conclusion for the following reasons:
Infighting in the UNP. The party failed to win voters over due to
There were two factions led by two stalwarts of the party. That
failed to attract vote and even the UNP supporters apparently kept
away from casting their votes.
The speeches of the two UNP ‘leaders’, their ways of addressing,
their oratory did not capture the hearts of the people as that or
the President’s well calculated words and terms delivered in a very
pleasant manner to reach the voters politically.
The UPFA had quality leadership in the President (if not for him the
UPFA would have been a rudderless boat) which was not up to that
standard in the UNP, though the leader’s honesty and integrity were
not in doubt, which qualities of course have little impact in
today’s politics. The lack or a national minded approach was also a
The UPFA being in power had the edge over the UNP and political
history shows that the political party in power had the larger share
of the cake at Local Government Elections, in most instances. People
are prone to think that things could be got done only by governing
The war victory over terrorism was used to the utmost by the UPFA,
and the UNP was at a loss for counter propaganda due to their past
words and deeds - wrong political behaviour.
Poor media backing.
Selfish elements leaving the party seeking political power.
Upali S Jayasekera
|Politicians, how insensitive
can they get!
At a time thousands and thousands of Sri Lankans are suffering
due to the on going rains and floods, all that the politicians can
think of is their insurance to their families and their dutyfree
vehicles. How callous can they get! Even an ordinary man is thinking
how to alleviate the sufferings of these brethren and the
politicians who had been elected solely to serve the people (hmm!)
have nothing better to do than to fight petty matters – who cares
what Karu Jayasuriya said or did when thousands are suffering in
camps, schools while their precious little possessions have been
either washed away or are damaged.
How come we do not see or hear any politicians fighting to help the
flood affected now? Just a small item to say the government has done
everything and that’s all. Has it? How come we are getting day in
day out appeals for food for the affected?
You politicians are disgusting! Have you no heart whatsoever? Stop
being so childish and being so selfish! Get out there and look at
the needs of the people. Go and fulfill your promises to the people.
Do not think that you are safe from the wrath of the weather - the
floods can affect you politicians specifically if God wants it to.
He showed you a taste of it in the parliament flooding.
Stop all your other thamashas and help those in need now. Please.
Dr Mrs Mareena Thaha Reffai
Dr S Packianathar Athanasiyar, J.P.
Earned respect and affection of
Dr Swampillai Packianathar Athanasiyar was born on October 16,
1917 in Sillalai, a village called “Little Rome” in the Jaffna
diocese to an orthodox Catholic religious family, father late Dr
Swampillai Athanasiyar and mother late Mary Josephine, as the eldest
with six sisters and one brother of whom three sisters predeceased
him. After a long lifetime of fruitful service as an eminent
Physician in Sri Lanka and abroad he passed away peacefully at his
ripe age of 93 on July 8, 2010 while in London.
Incidentally, 25 years ago his beloved mother who was
affectionately called by the villagers as “Mother Theresa of
Sillalai” for her simplicity, charity and saintly life was called to
rest on this same date.
He received his primary education at R.C. School Sillalai,
Pandaterrppu and his secondary education at St Henry’s College,
Illavalai. Completing his secondary education, he joined the
Ayurvedic Medical College in Colombo to pursue his studies in
medicine and passed out as a doctor. He became a doctor perhaps to
carry on the tradition set by his father. He joined his father Dr S
Athanasiyar and acquired more knowledge and experience from a
renowned veteran well known in the field of Ayurvedic treatment in
the peninsula for his God given gift of diagnosing correctly the
ailment of the patient by checking the beat of the pulses by his
fingers and treating the patients with medicine prepared by him out
of mercury, gold, opium and from rhino horns.
Dr Packianather serving his patients meekly with his whispering
voice, passionately caring with humility earned the respect and
affection of his patients. He never showed anger on his face, always
with a charming and ever-smiling radiant face unruffled and
cheerful. His kindness and goodness with his specialised ancestral
medicine for children and adults reached out to all and he enjoyed a
lucrative practice. An admirable personality always neatly dressed
in white symbolising his profession. He was a gentleman par
excellence. Even when he was disturbed in the dead of the night, he
would be up to attend to emergency calls and if necessary he would
not hesitate to visit the patient’s home and treat in the dark hours
with a sense of duty and concern.
He was a deeply religious devout catholic and had strong faith in
God and in Blessed Mother Kathiraichelvee of Sillalai. He played an
active role in all the parish activities and served in different
capacities with responsibility and honesty assisting the Parish
Priest Rev.Fr Dessy OMI and built a beautiful church. In spite of
his heavy schedules, he always found time to participate and assist
in all the religious activities in the church and also never failed
to attend any functions of the relatives and parishioners
Dr Packianather was married to Perly Swampillai, a caring, loving,
compassionate and dutiful wife - a well known social worker and an
ex-Chairperson of the Pandaterruppu Town Council. They were blessed
with one daughter and two sons. Eldest daughter Dorris Augustine is
settled in London and son Basil is settled in France. Second son
Emil followed the footsteps of their generation and became a Doctor
of Medicine and continuing the ancestral heritage in Colombo.
Dr Packianather established a medical centre of his own and by
God-given skill in the medical practice he earned a high esteem
among the elite. He was a rare personality, well respected and loved
by all for his noble qualities and generosity and was held in high
esteem not only in the peninsula but in the entire island
Dr S.P.Athanasiyar was a member of the Ayurvedic Medical Council -
Colombo, for a long period and served as a member of the Medical
Board and Examiner for final DIMS. Many medical students
understudied and followed internship under his supervision. He was
the Charter President – Lions Club of Vaddukkodai and was Lions Zone
Chairman 1980/81. He was very meticulous and methodical in
organising functions and events and everyone accepted his leadership
with respect and honour. During his remarkable period many
improvements and developments took place in the Vaddukkodai
electorate, strengthened the membership and helped the needy
providing wheelchairs, spectacles, etc and coordinated with Lions
Club of Colombo.
Under his stewardship as the President of St Henry’s College Old
Boys’ Association with his unstinting assistance many progress and
expansion took place in the college and by his encouragement the
students excelled in sports and won the all Island Soccer
Championship which he witnessed at Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo,
and many students entered university
He was not only a well known Physician but also a social worker
involving himself in numerous activities that benefited many. People
from all walks of life, all communities and faiths came to him for
help and he gracefully obliged in their needs. He was a God fearing
and disciplined person whose main aim in life was to see the welfare
of others even neglecting his own health. He was affectionately
called “Packiam” means “Blessings” by his dearest and nearest and a
tower of strength to all. In recognition of alleviations of
suffering of thousands of patients in his lifetime, the government
honoured him with the title of “Justice of the Peace”
Dr Pakianathar’s prayers and faith in God sustained him in all his
trials and triumphs. He had fulfilled all his duties towards his
family and relatives and had cherished all ambitious deeds in life,
and his mission was fully accomplished and waited for his visa to
It is a sad farewell for Pearly Aunty Dorris, Emil, Basil,
grandchildren, great grandchildren and relatives but as Christians
we have to accept God’s ways gracefully. His demise is an
irreparable loss to the Ayurvedic Medical Profession and to the
community at large
As his brother-in-law I will not forget the good services he had
rendered to my family.
May the Good Lord Bless his soul and welcome him into His kingdom
and grant him Eternal Bliss
May he rest in peace!
S B David
|Al Haj T. S. Ismail
Fragrance of his life lingers
The stillness of the night of January 10 was broken by the sad
news that the cold hand of death had stealthily entered the lives of
two members of a family almost simultaneously to the utter
bewilderment of their dear ones. The news of the passing away of his
sister-in-law came as a rude shock to T. S. Ismail that he collapsed
never to rise again.
T.S. as he was fondly known to all and to me especially was a close
friend and fellow draughtsman attached to the Irrigation Department.
I first met him at Trincomalee where I was stationed when he had
come down to visit his fiancée as he being stationed at distant
With the passage of time, our friendship prospered and continued
when we were both transferred out to Colombo head office of the
department at Jawatte. We were now in close proximity with our homes
at Moratuwa and Panadura. With the bringing up of our children and
seeing to their needs whilst keeping up the home fires burning was
our immediate tasks. It definitely was a hard grind being public
servants but nevertheless stood to our tasks with grim
T.S. was a draughtsman par excellence having taken up to this
profession as he possessed the natural flair for artistic work which
stood him in good stead. His forte was in the drawing and the
execution of building plans which he did with absolute finesse. His
one aim, I believe, was to find a safe and permanent haven for his
family and towards that end he worked relentlessly.
He sought greener pastures in countries abroad as to serve in the
Middle East and Brunei. He thus became the proud owner of a fixed
abode in the heart of Moratuwa. He was of immense help to his
daughter aiding her son in his schooling and further curricular
activities which kept him active in retirement. He even fulfilled a
religious requirement by performing “Haj” thus adhering to the
tenets of his faith in the Almighty. With advancing age and an
impairment on his heart came under medication but when a heart
improvement could be seen the inevitable happened.
He lived a life mixed with humour and an asset to his associates
and family. In passing, I may miss out on one of his famous quotes
as “what a life, by Wijesoma”.
Yes, the fragrance of his life lingers on as he leaves a sorrowing
wife Bulang, son Binraj, daughter Sabita and their extended families
and to quote that those whom he has left behind him is not to die.
I share their grief too as we were more than mere friends being from
the same community.
May Almighty Allah grant him Jennalthul Firdous. Inna illahi wa inna
T Aniff Ahamed
|Mrs. Mary Rajamma Pandian
She was an inspiration to family
Mary Rajamma was born as the fifth child with siblings of six
brothers and one sister to Rajamoni and the late Elizabeth of
“Ratnahiri Villa” Welihena Kochchikade. Four brothers predeceased
her in their 70th years. As per the Bible, man’s life is three
scores and 10 (70 years) and anything more is God’s blessings and
Rajamma (popularly known as ‘Periakka’) lived a full life of 77
years, the extra 7 years truly a blessing.
Pandian had her early education at Welihena Catholic School and
later at St Sebastian’s Convent Kandana. She was brought up in the
Christian atmosphere and taught at the Welihena School for a short
period. The bothers and the sisters were a united family and
marriages brought great happiness in this united family. Mary
Rajamma was married to P. S. Pandian (Director, St Anthony’s
Hardware Stores/Cyntex Colombo) and bore four children (two boys and
two girls) and her family life began in Colombo. She was an
inspiration to the other members of the family and was the “First
Lady” instrumental in the marriages of her siblings.
She was a lady who entertained well and her house was full of
people from all walks of life. She organised annual pilgrimages to
Talawila and Madhu Churches and an annual family get-together where
there was a great joy as a united family. She was a philanthropist
who helped the needy and was a regular churchgoer.
She moved to Chennai with her family and was a director of her
husband’s hotel - Hotel Padian in Egmore, Chennai. All the children
were married and are well placed in life. Her two sons along with
the father manage the hotel business.
She was an ardent member of St George’s Cathedral and was
honorary treasurer of the Women’s Fellowship and her beloved husband
contributed immensely to the needy. Her house was appropriately
named “Rajam Villa”. Her house was truly a haven for all who visited
India from far and near. She was able to bring to life the famous
quotation “behind every successful man is a woman.”
She was one of those who walked with kings nor lost the common
touch. She had touched so many lives that it is difficult to forget
her and she was a legend and leaves a rich legacy behind. She held
in high esteem the rich heritage and high tradition of her family.
We pray, “Rest Eternal Grant unto her .Oh Lord! And let
Perpetual Light shine upon her and may she rest in peace!”