Category Archives: female empowerment

Burka, Niqab, Et Cetera

FROM …..,-niqab-and-hijab/5785816

LIBERTARIAN  CHALLENGES = Fish-Net garments … at …


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A Funeral and Its Professional Lamentation

Alagu Subramaniam,  courtesy of Rajiva Wijesinha, An Anthology of English Poetry and Prose, Godage & Bros, 2016, … see http://www.godage,comas Addendum to the item on professional mourners in Thuppahi, viz The Original Title of this Essay is “Professional Mourners”

 My grandmother died late at night on a Saturday while my sister, brother and I were fast asleep. We were wakened in the morning by the cries from grandmother’s house and the sound of drums. We dressed hurriedly and ran to her place. A large gathering was there, and the space between the boundary fence and the outer verandah was lined with people. We pushed our way through the crowd to the centre of the hut in search of our mother. We were feeling afraid because it was the first funeral we had attended.

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Professional Mourners in Ceylon and Southern India

Michael Roberts

 My interest in the topic of disappearances in Sri Lanka over the past decade and the allegations presented by one “Floyyd” in his comments on my central frontispiece named ”Sinhala Mind-Set” on the 25th November 2013 led me to supplement my posts and inquiries on that topic with a serious question I sent to several friends and personnel on  the 9th December 2016 and the week that followed.  Only a few responded to my inquiry in the course of that month. It is of some significance that most of those whose information is presented below are of the older generation and, like me, in the age-bracket seventies. For that reason they are calling upon their younger days in supplying ethnographic information that is of considerable value. For this reason I refer to “Ceylon” in my title because the data seems to refer to practices before the name change in 1972. However, this does not mean that the practitioners of mourning and the capacities for lamentation on cue have been totally buried.

oppari-22  Women in oppari lamentation in southern India — cf Balachandran’s note below oppariFrom

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Two Sri Lankan Tamil Voices from the North Today

Frances Bulathsinghala, courtesy of Daily FT, 5 August 2016, where the title reads “Post-war voices from the north.” The emphases in highlighted colours, however, are additions by The Editor, Thuppahi

Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu: Rajini is 46 years old and an ex-LTTE Commander with a 10-year-old daughter. She is a widow. She has few visitors. Tamil politicians are rarely among them.  Occasionally she chases off military officers who enter her premises in her absence and make themselves at home for hours in her garden. She flies into a rage at them. She informs them that they have no right to enter her garden in her absence. They accept, grin, make some lame excuses and good-naturedly lope off after the cursory examination of the military reference documentation that is as important for ex-militants in post-war times as it was for civilians in peace times. 

It is peace. At least there is no gunfire now. Of the memories of fire that continue to burn in hearts and minds we do not know.


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Homemade Culinary Art in Surviving the Eelam Wars

Vidya Balachander, 9 October 2016, whose chosen title is. Cookbook Tells The Story Of Sri Lanka’s Civil War Through Food.” ….….

Even if you knew nothing about Vijaya, her haunting portrait would likely give you pause. She peers out of the page, unsmiling, her silver hair pulled back and her eyes conveying an unspoken anguish. From the accompanying narrative, we learn that a few years ago, almost overnight, Vijaya became her granddaughter Anjali’s primary caretaker. Her daughter, Gayathri, set out to find nutritious food for the family amidst heavy shelling, at the violent end of Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war, and never returned home. In the years since, money has been scarce and fresh vegetables in limited supply. But Vijaya and her granddaughter survived on creamy, coconut milk-laced sothis, mild gravies that act as soothing antidotes to the scorching cuisine of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-dominated north. Sothis are a common part of everyday meals. But seen through the lens of war — and Vijaya’s lingering loss — this simple side dish acquires a new depth.

aa-vijaya After losing her daughter during the war, Vijaya cares for her granddaughter Anjali. Despite not being able to afford freshvegetables, she cooks nourishing sothis or stews made of coconut milk.–Palmera

It is this exploration of food — both as a source of sustenance and a repository of memories in the context of war that makes Handmade, a cookbook published by Palmera, a not-for-profit organization based in Australia, different from the other Sri Lankan cookbooks to have come out in recent times. Continue reading

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The Rajasingams and Their Profound Legacies

Rajan Hoole, being the text of speech delivered at Trimmer Hall, Jaffna, 22 September 2016… and reproduced in the Daily News with the title “The Rajasingam Legacy: A Quest for Quality”

  rajasinghamsin1990parentsofdrrajani aaa-rajasingambavinck-rajasingham

After nightfall on 21st September 1989, Rajasingam Master called on his bicycle at my mother’s home quite unexpectedly and delivered his pithy message, “Rajini has been shot.” His voice showed no evident emotion. After a brief exchange of words, he turned back. He was stoic, incorruptible, who lived by his strong sense of duty. Master, his wife MahilaAcca, and their daughters, Nirmala, Rajini, Sumathy and Vasuki were familiar to us from childhood days in the St. James’ Church choir. Had Master been more ambitious during his university days, he would have left his mark as an outstanding mathematician in our university. What he did as a school master at Hartley and Jaffna College was no less important. His zeal for catching hold of students who seemed to be in need of inspiration and getting them to work Mathematics problems remained a passion with him to the end of his life.  rajani-t Rajani Thiranagama nee Rajasingam

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Lakshmi de Silva: An Inspiration as an Academic

KS Sivakumran in Daily News, where the title is  “Lakshmi de Silva – an academic to reflect upon”

aa-lakshmiA remarkable translator, teacher and a poet in English and perhaps in Sinhala too is the unassuming and scholarly Lakshmi de Silva. She is one who had encouraged me to write and was persistently asking me to bring some of my articles in the press to be collected in book form. Last year, Vijitha Yapa Publications published a collection of 26 poems of her under the title Reflections running to only 35 pages qualifying its stature as a booklet. Invariably a printed book should have at least 50 pages according to the National Library Services Board. And yet the quality of her poems is uniquely of a high standard in the classical sense. Continue reading

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