â€˜From the Cradleâ€™ focuses on folk culture
LAMP: Dr. Sarath Amunugama watches the lamp being lit by S. K.
Wickremasinghe, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Martin
Wickramasinghe Trust. The lamp was hung from a beam in the verandah
of the replica of the â€˜mul gedaraâ€™.
CULTURE: Girls clad in â€˜kabakuruthuâ€™ and â€˜reddaâ€™ greeted the
visitors. Panels with photographs of artifacts of Sri Lankan folk
culture were displayed along the path. A neat replica of the house where
the celebrated writer Martin Wickramasinghe was born, formed the
The venue was the Jubilee Room at Galle Face Hotel. The occasion was
the launch of â€˜From the Cradleâ€™ , a coffee table book based on the
artifacts displayed at the Martin Wickramasinghe Museum of Folk Culture.
It coincided with the 117th birth anniversary of the Sage of Koggala.
The simple but impressive ceremony was attended by Dr. Sarath
Amunugama, Minister of Enterprise Development & Investment Promotion as
chief guest. The well-known scriptwriter and film director Tissa
Abeysekera was the facilitator. The keynote speaker was Professor
Emeritus K. N. O. Dharmadasa.
Delivering the keynote address Dr. Sarath Amunugama said Gunadasa
Amarasekara and K. Jayathilaka would not have become novelists if not
for the inspiration received from Martin Wickramasinghe. He wrote novels
and short stories in a new style. As a journalist and novelist he
refashioned the language to suit his purpose.
He said the decline of language shows the downwards trend found in
society. The Sinhala language used in popular culture shows signs of
decay. Although Sinhala is on the decline, other Asian languages are
going forward with added enthusiasm.
According to Examination Department figures only 41 p.c. of GCE O/L
candidates have been successful in the Sinhala language. This shows a
backward trend in the Sinhala language in modern times, he said.
The lavishly illustrated book published by the Martin Wickramasinghe
Trust starts with a brief description of Koggala and the house where he
was born, around which the Museum has been established. It goes on to
discuss salient features of day-to-day activities of the people
highlighting some of the fast diminishing customs and traditions
prevalent in the early days.
For example, the â€˜guru gedaraâ€™ - the teacherâ€™s house where the
village children learnt their first letters is no more in the village.
Visits to the â€˜veda gedaraâ€™ - the native physicianâ€™s home are also very
The role of the village temple, the place of rice in the daily menu,
the busy housewifeâ€™s paraphernalia, celebrations during Sinhala Avurudu,
modes of transport in the early days, and traditional customs are among
the topics covered in the publication.
The skilled craftsmen who supplied the necessities for the peasants
to lead a simple life are described in detail along with colourful
photographs of their products, which are housed in the Folk Museum.
â€˜From the Cradleâ€™ carries a wide range of high quality photographs
captured through the lens of renowned photographer Sarath Perera. The
lay out and design is by seasoned designer Somachandra (Ruwan) Peiris.
The text is by D. C. Ranatunga, experienced journalist.
The publication also includes two features - one by Tissa Abeysekera,
and the other by Professor K. N. O. Dharmadasa, and a complete list of
Martin Wickramasinghe publications.