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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
An Ethnological Study of
the Muslims of Sri Lanka
Author: Asiff Hussein
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".
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
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.
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.
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
Glimpses of literature in a hurry
Nowa Peraniya Lipi Saraniya
Author: A. D. Ranjith Kumara
Publishers: Sarasavi Publishers,
Price: Rs. 350
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 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.
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
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
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 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
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.
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.
Browsing through the pages of this interesting volume is a rare
Understand happiness and sadness
A different way of life
Author: Kiron Shenoy
Publishers: Veekay International
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
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.
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.
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
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.