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Government Gazette

In-depth information on Sri Lanka's burgeoning hospitality industry

Comprehensive Guide to

Information on Sri Lanka

Author: J. F. Ranjith Perera

Published by the

Sri Lanka Tourist Board

80 Galle Road, Colombo 3

583 pp

TOURISM: Tourists, tour operators, tourist hotels, tourist guides, students following courses in tourism and others interested in this subject will be delighted to have access to a comprehensive guide to information on Sri Lanka. The monumental work running into 583 pages has been compiled and edited by an authority on the subject. He is J. F. Ranjith Perera who was one time Administrative Assistant and later Director General and Competent Authority of the Ceylon Tourist Board. He has wide experience in the tourist industry here and other foreign countries in Europe, South East Asia, North Africa and North America.

Tourist guides published in Sri Lanka were mostly travel guides or pictorials. Sometimes the emphasis of such publications was on cultural tourism.

diverse topics

However, the current publication covers diverse topics such as geographical location and climate, social profile, the economy, the government, the banking and financial systems, Sri Lanka as an investment destination, the legal systems of Sri Lanka, the history of the island, and the sources of Sri Lankan history.

Section 2 deals with cultural tourism, nature tourism, adventure tourism, and spiritual tourism. This section gives a detailed account of world heritage sites declared by the UNESCO, sites and things of touristic interest at various tourist destinations. Under nature tourism the author gives a graphic account of the national parks, fauna and flora.

Adventure tourism is mainly targeted at foreign tourists who would wish to know details of adventure destinations, adventure sports, trekking, golf and wind surfing. These are necessary to sell Sri Lanka as a tourist destination.

This is perhaps the first tourist publication that promotes spiritual tourism. In this section different types of meditation are discussed. Apart from meditation, Meththa Bhavana or Ana Pana Sathi Bhavana, the author gives us a full list of monasteries teaching and practising authentic meditation.

National Flag

The book opens with the National Anthem of Sri Lanka. It is followed by brief sketches of the National Flag, the National Tree, the National Flower, the State emblem, and a traditional greeting to the visitor to this enchanted island. Some of the information found in the book is good for any average student who wishes to know the names of our rivers, catchment areas, and water falls.

The social profile deals with the ethnic distribution of the people, their religions, literacy rate and density of population. The author has given the essence of all the religions practised in Sri Lanka.

economic growth

Writing on the country's economy the book explains various trends in economic growth and traces the history in the post independence era with special emphasis on Mahinda Chinthana.

The chapter on "Sri Lanka as an investment destination" is timely. It gives the economic policies and investment opportunities available in the island. Meanwhile, "Sri Lanka's hydraulic civilization" spells out the rise and fall of the ancient system of irrigation.

"Authentic Sri Lanka cuisine" will titillate the taste buds of tourists coming to Sri Lanka.

Since the government has recognised the potential of tourism industry, books of this nature should be promoted locally and overseas. Tourist hotels should have at least a few copies of this book for visitors to read because some of the staff members are woefully unaware of tourist information.

On another level this volume can be treated as a book of history. It gives a graphic account of the history of Sri Lanka from the pre-historic period upto the present. It is amazing to see that the island had been ruled by nearly 200 kings.

important details

A short review of this nature cannot do justice to a volume that has dealt with so many subjects relating to tourism. As Sri Lankans we should be proud of this book which has not left out any important details.

For the record I will mention a few more topics included in the book: ancient literature, masks, handicrafts, puppetry, national festivals, architecture, coins and maps. I am sure anyone who lays his hands on this book will be tempted to visit this thrice-blessed island.


Comprehensive study of Sri Lanka's Muslim community for posterity

Sarandib

An Ethnological Study of

the Muslims of Sri Lanka

Author: Asiff Hussein

RESEARCH: Sarandib - An Ethnological Study of the Muslims of Sri Lanka by Asiff Hussein is a book worth reading by both Muslims and non-Muslims, academics as well as general readers who would like to know all about the country's Muslims. What is particularly noteworthy about this work is that the author has not only dealt with the ethnicity and culture of the country's major Muslim group, the Moors, but has also given due attention to the other Muslim groups such as the Malays, Memons and other groups of Indian origin such as the Sammankarar, Faqirs and Osta.

As renowned scholar Dr. M. A. M. Shukri observes in a foreword to the work: "It is by far the most comprehensive multi-disciplinary study of the country's Muslim community undertaken to date, encompassing physical anthropology, linguistics, social organization, cultural traditions and religious and folk beliefs".

Moor community

In the first part of this work which is devoted to the Moor community, Hussein traces in great detail the origins of the Moors, contending that the nucleus of the community has its origins in the early Arab settlers and traders who chose to settle in the country, espousing local Sinhalese and Tamil women. To this end, he has drawn upon anthropological, textual and epigraphic evidence.

He has also sought to show that the Moors, descended as they were from Arabs hailing from Iraq, Yemen and other parts of the Arab world were originally an Arabic-speaking people and that it was only after the 13th century with the fall of the Abbasid caliphate to the Mongols that they came to speak Tamil as their home language, largely facilitated by increasing dependence on their Tamil-speaking co-religionists from peninsular India with whom they had established strong commercial links.

He has also dealt with the peculiar dialect spoken by the Moors in the South and Western parts of the country known as Sona Tamil as well as with their now largely forgotten literary heritage based on Arabu-Tamil, Tamil written in Arabic script. He then goes on to deal with the settlements of the Moors, showing how such settlements would have originated and the factors that would have influenced settlement patterns.

Hussein also deals at length with the social customs of the community including birth and childhood, marriage and funerary rites as they prevail in different areas, showing how some have a religious basis while how others have been influenced by external factors. He also deals with dress and ornamentation and culinary habits as it prevails in the community at present and as it prevailed in the past, drawing upon oral traditions and literary sources to reveal some rare insights into these aspects of life. He has shown how diversely the Moors have been influenced in their attire and ornament and food habits which betray not only Arabian, but also a strong Hindustani and Dravidian influence. The medical remedies of the community has also been dealt with at length and includes details of traditional Unani prescriptions as well as a variety of handy medicines known as kai-marundu.

Gem merchants

The chapter on occupations is also very illuminating and shows how the Moors of old made their living not only as traders and gem merchants, but also as seafarers, hunters, farmers, fishers, masons, carpenters and medical men. The author also delves on the religious beliefs of the community, dealing not only with the basic tenets of the faith, but also with religious currents such as Sufism and Salafi revivalism and with beliefs pertaining to the jinn, evil eye, Adam's Peak and that mysterious personage known as Khidr or 'The Green One'.

The second part deals with the Malays and shows how the community has its origins from the nobles and soldiers brought hither by the Dutch from Indonesia, though some had their origins from the Malayan Peninsula as well. Their distinct speech, social customs, attire and culinary fare have also been dealt with in great detail. The third part of the work deals with the little known Memon community which has its origins in the Kathiawad Peninsula of Gujarat. The speech of the community as well as their distinct social and cultural practices as well as their commercial life have been recorded in detail. Finally the author deals with other groups of Indian origin including the Sammankarar or Coast Moors who hailed from various parts of the South Indian coast, the Faqirs who originally hailed from peninsular India with later accretions from other local Muslim communities and the Osta who have traditionally performed such duties as ritual tonsure and circumcision and who constitute a sort of caste group, intermarrying among themselves.

Rare information

Hussein must be commended for having undertaken the extremely valuable and time consuming task of gathering rare information from diverse sources which involved a number of field visits and interviews, particularly with elderly folk who still preserve memories of their former lifestyle and traditions, some of which no longer exist. He has also undertaken an extensive survey of old records such as the Dutch tombos preserved at the National archives and other institutions which relate to the social and economic life of local Muslims centuries ago.

Thanks to his efforts, much valuable information about the past social, economic, cultural and traditional life of the country's Muslims which would have otherwise disappeared unrecorded have been saved for posterity. Thus Hussein's study should help preserve the colourful cultural life and rich heritage of the island's Muslims, particularly in the context of a fast changing social life as a result of the rat race for survival under the current globalised open economic set-up.

The work is illustrated with 32 colour plates including some rare photographs such as old photos of the different Muslim groups, Arabic inscriptions found in graveyards, an old Arabu-Tamil newspaper titled kashfur raan an qalbil jaan, a surattu toppi formerly worn by Moor gentlemen, antique jewellery including a rare savadi necklace and even some kris knives used by the Malays of old.

The book is available at Vijitha Yapa, Lake House Bookshop, Sarasavi Bookshop, Makeens, Barefoot, Islamic Book House, CIS and Carnival Ice Cream.


Glimpses of literature in a hurry

Nowa Peraniya Lipi Saraniya

Author: A. D. Ranjith Kumara

Publishers: Sarasavi Publishers,

Nugegoda

Price: Rs. 350

pp 287

ARTICLES: A. D. Ranjith Kumara's latest contribution to his repertory of publications is a collection of articles he had written to journals. Ranjith's talent to dive into history, in search of roots to unearth events and personalities is remarkable. In this scenario, the readers will relish to read, study and enjoy his Nowa Peraniya Lipi Saraniya.

His work covers a wide spectrum of literary figures with an occasional dip into the vocal giants who have imprinted their presence with eventful years of intelligent works. Sporadic recollection of their literary past leaves nothing for imagination. His chosen field of journalism both as an investigator and a narrator is fertile ground for his research.

His narrative and descriptive renderings throw light upon inconspicuous aspects of the leading figures in the world of Sri Lankan arts. The writers are rediscovered with a heightened personality and creativity, while they are being brought closer to the reader with some of their undisclosed human traits. Meanwhile, Ranjith reveals interesting information to the delight of every reader.

Radio play

In one instance, he takes the reader to Padma Lalani Kuruppu the real Dammi of Golu Hadawatha. Then he tells us that in 1938, J. R. Jayewardene had acted in a radio play with Prof. G. P. Malalasekera. He traces the history of how three books under the titles Vana Katha, Pali Geneema and Samaja Sanshodanaya were banned in 1950, the last of which was for carrying anti-UNP sentiments. Pali Geneema was banned on grounds of immorality.

When J. R. Jayewardene himself awarded the prize of Rs. 1,000 for the best poem written in celebration of Independence in 1949, some people suggested that it was far better to spend that money in feeding the poor.

At the second literary festival held in 1958 at Dambadeniya, over 50,000 people attended the final meeting,


Author: A. D. Ranjith Kumara

 which was addressed by the Prime Minister. For the first time books were offered for sale at a discount of 33 per cent of the marked price by M. D. Gunasena in 1963. In the days gone by the literary day was almost a national day at which the common man too showed an interest in it.

In the 1960s, an intellectual awakening with an unrest was created with a debate on obscene literature generated by Yali Upannemi. Some people compared it to opium. Ranjith revealing another unknown incident tells us that in the 1940s T. S. Fernando was fined Rs. 20 for writing on sexology.

According to Meemana Premathilake, there is nothing greater than lust. That was in the 1960s during which period the market was flooded with phonographic literature.

Literary awards

J. B. Disanayaka, his wife and daughter are unique family combination to have won literary awards, says the writer. He relates an interesting incident at which K. L. Saigal, the Indian singer was made to sing before and after consuming liquor and then was asked to listen to his own vocals compelling him to accept that what he sang before taking liquor was clearer and better.

When Soma written by Gunadasa Amarasekera was adjudged the best short-story making way for its international recognition, Lankadeepa greeted the nomination with banner head-lines in its cover-page an unbelievable prominence within today's context where writing is pushed into a lower level.

Ranjith says Dharmasiri Gamage had to write 72 short stories before one was published in Janatha. Tracing the history of the Colombo Municipal Council, he tells the reader that of the 11 members elected to the first Council only one was a Sinhalese. In respect of Bawa Tharanaya the Colombo YMBA warned that no Buddhist should ever read it. The first-ever children's song in Sinhala played for gramophone recording was Surathal Nangiye Ape Amma, a duet sung by Trilicia Abeykoon and W. A. Wijepala.

Browsing through the pages of this interesting volume is a rare experience.


Understand happiness and sadness

A different way of life

Author: Kiron Shenoy

Publishers: Veekay International

Publishers

ADVICE:Kiron Shenoy's small handy book of aphorisms, maxims, practical hints and general wisdom are not only basically useful for day-to-day living, but also are fundamental truths as well. Some of what he says could be inborn in our thinking, but not quite formulated in this way, and in any case these wise saws radical thoughts and definite reminders relate gently and with ease into our day-to-day lives, our environment, our homes, workplaces and vocations and our interactions in society.

The fact is that what Shenoy has to say is simplicity itself, witty at times, attractive to the reader, all too true, pure common sense at other times, which people have missed and you ask yourself: why did I not think of this earlier? Shenoy says that he has made these observations during the last fifty years of his working life. It is a book in the genre of how to influence people.

self-development

He says that his main aim is to help in the self-development of people through motivation or aspirations. The book is very readable, not a bit dull and Shenoy does not preach. You come up against reality and his attitude to it, which he tackles with a sense of humour, a no-nonsense approach and a lively mind.

Have a look at what the book contains. His advice on Life is that one should LIVE not exist and quite definitely it would help a great deal if age is treated as a mental state. Whatever the mental age, you could be a radical or a rebel, but Shenoy tells us don't die for an idea or a thought. This could be a very useful idea in this country.

He admonishes you to save for your tomorrow and how you should make, behave and treat your friends. Shenoy is a great believer in living for today, enjoying yourself to the full. But there are ethics to be followed and values which you must uphold. In short crisp sentences which are not preachy he tells you how you can live your life better, make yourself and those around you happier. The recipes are simple and some of them we already know.

big boss

He thinks that some questions can be solved between the two of you: you and the big boss. I would ask: In the home or in the office? He advises you to shun the negative critic and give losers a miss. There are of course plenty of people who criticize and very few who appreciate. He emphasizes the importance of punctuality and optimism within reason would do anybody good.

Shenoy recognizes scroungers and others who enjoy themselves with other people's money. One may like to enjoy oneself but it would be wiser to confine oneself to one credit card. It's good to remind readers about one of his nuggets of wisdom-never expect gratitude. He does not object to a good cry and fun is a good thing but there are ways of having it.

He has had a lot of experience in companies and his insights into organizations and their bosses is worth taking notice of. He tells you how to nurture love and affection draw a balance between work home and leisure; the importance of keeping busy and understanding happiness and sadness and so he goes on. And last but not least - a childlike person is lovable, but a childish one is ridiculous.

Kiron Shenoy is a management professional, motivator, analyst, speaker and team-player. He has worked in India, a great deal in Sri Lanka and lives in this country.


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