Category Archives: female empowerment
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 https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/professional-mourners-in-ceylon-and-southern-india/#more-24442. 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.
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.
Vidya Balachander, 9 October 2016, whose chosen title is. “Cookbook Tells The Story Of Sri Lanka’s Civil War Through Food.” ….…. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/10/09/496867198/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.
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
KS Sivakumran in Daily News, where the title is “Lakshmi de Silva – an academic to reflect upon”
A 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