Category Archives: religiosity

Under Fire: Pictorials of Sri Lanka’s Cricket Team facing Duress at Lahore, 3 March 2009

Michael Roberts …. aided by varied cameramen mostly unnamed

The stark reality of near-death and its trauma are reflected in the aftermath by Eranga Jayawardena’s image of Mahela and his wife at Katunayake Airport when the team arrived safely on 3rd March 2009 ….. What follows below is a sequence of dramatic images depicting the scenario in Lahore that preceded and precipitated this moment (several courtesy of AFP in Hong Kong) Continue reading

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The Arya and Hela Schools of Sinhala Song

Garrett Field, abstract of   article entitled “Music for Inner Domains: Sinhala Song and the Arya and Hela Schools of Cultural Nationalism in Colonial Sri Lanka”inThe Journal of Asian Studies November 2014, vol. 73(4):1043-1058 ·

In this article, I juxtapose the ways the “father of modern Sinhala drama”, John De Silva, and the Sinhala language reformer, Munidasa Cumaratunga, utilized music for different nationalist projects. First, I explore how De Silva created musicals that articulated Arya-Sinhala nationalism to support the Buddhist Revival. Second, I investigate how Cumaratunga, who spearheaded the Hela-Sinhala movement, asserted that genuine Sinhala song…

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Honouring Sarath Amunugama through Essays in Home and The World”

Dhammika Amarasinghe, in The Island,  5 February 2011

The book mirrors the man. The man is Dr. Sarath Amunugama, eminent public servant of yester year, sociologist, scholar, writer, orator, poet, dramatist, connoisseur (of many things – including the fine arts) and at the end of his career, perhaps unfortunately – politician. The volume has been brought out by his ever-loyal daughters Ramanika and Varuni to celebrate their hero’s 70 years of ‘a full life’ (the title of another of their filial tributes in a different genre). The book is a festschrift in honour of Sarath Amunugama. The list of contributors reads almost like a Roll of Honour of contemporary Sri Lankan intellectual life, ranging as it does from Gananath Obeyesekere and Stanley J Tambiah through Siri Gunasinghe, J. B. Dissanayake and Carlo Fonseka to Jayantha Dhanapala, H. L. Seneviratne and Saman Kelegama (and many more of the same vintage). The standing of the contributors, almost all of whom are incidentally long-time friends and associates of Amunugama, and the wealth of high quality material encapsulated in this volume of 400 pages, makes the writing of a ‘review’ almost a daunting task. Therefore, what can be done is only to give some flavour of a selection of the contributions. The range of contributors mirrors not only the standing of the man being honoured but also the wide spectrum of his interests and accomplishments. Continue reading

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Religious Zealots: Mashal Khan killed by Fellow-Uni Students for Blasphemy

Reuters,  14 April 2017 with the title Pakistani student beaten to death by peers in latest ‘blasphemy killing’

The ransacked university hostel room of slain Pakistani student Mashal Khan has posters of Karl Marx and Che Guevara still hanging on the walls, along with scribbled quotes including one that reads: “Be curious, crazy and mad.” The day before, a heated debate over religion with fellow students broke out at the dorm and led to people accusing Khan of blasphemy against Islam. That attracted a crowd that grew to several hundred people, according to witnesses. The mob kicked in the door, dragged Khan from his room and beat him to death, witnesses and police said. The death in the northwestern city of Mardan is the latest violence linked to accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan.

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“Sacrificial Devotion” — How I Entered This Terrain

Michael Roberts

With the benefit of a Teen Murti Fellowship I was collecting data on communal violence in India in 1995 when my readings of news archives indicated that the death of Mrs Indira Gandhi by assassination in Delhi induced a handful of individuals in southern India to commit sympathetic suicide. Since news reports did not indicate similar reactions in other parts of India, I began to reflect on the cultural foundations that promoted such expressions – acting, of course, in contexts that also could provide political and economic inspirations. This eventually led to my first essay on this topic:  “Filial Devotion and the Tiger Cult of Suicide,” Contributions to Indian Sociology, 1996, 30: 245-72.

Dhanu waits to kill Rajiv Gandhi in suicide attack

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Breakthrough Heart Transplant at Kandy Hospital: An Almsgiving beyond Life

Kumudini Hettiarachchi, in  Sunday Times, 16 July 2017, reporting on  the human saga behind a trailblazing medical feat in Sri Lanka under the title  “A new heart begins to beat  

 Overjoyed is H.A. Wijaya Kumarasiri from a village in Anuradhapura. His Sudu, with her new heart beating strongly within, had opened her eyes and given him a smile that morning, as he murmured endearments to her. We meet him the same day, Wednesday, at noon as he lingers outside the Kandy Teaching Hospital’s Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (CTICU), awaiting another glimpse of his wife.
The heart transplant team at work in Operating Theatre B. Pix by Priyantha Wickramarachch

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Sydney is now a Chinatown?

Rose Brennan, in the Daily Telegraph

AUSTRALIA’S greatest city is now more Chinese than British — with yesterday’s Census data revealing how much the incredible boom in Asian ­migration has changed the face of Sydney. In the past 25 years, the percentage of overseas born ­migrants in Sydney residents from China has risen an ­incredible 500 per cent. And for the first time ever, the greatest proportion of ­migrants in the Harbour City are from China rather than England.

 Paul Wong was just 18 when his family came to Sydney from Hong Kong

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