President Mahinda Rajapaksa's address at the Parliament has gone to
annals of Sri Lanka as the most impeccable and exemplary speech ever
made by a politician or a Head of the State of our country.
It will reverberate within the wall of our House of Legislature
generation after generation, and resound in the hearts and minds of Sri
Lankans of all communities until they depart.
It drew parallel to the speeches made by prominent leaders who lived
in the world in different epochs.
It has gone to the history of world like Sir Winston Churchill's
speech after defeating Nazi Hitler at the 2nd World War Sri Jawaharlal
Nehru's address to Indian nation at the dawn of independence from
British imperialism and General De Gaulle's message to his fellow
citizens when his country was met with a severe political and economic
crisis are most memorable.
Let us join hands forgetting the bitter past and give our utmost
contributions to build up the devastated North and develop the country
wishing our uncrowned King who deserved to be crowned, a Long Live!
R. D. P. Gunawardena - Kalutara
The President, a practising Buddhist, spends a little over an hour on
a Poya morning, listening to a Dhamma sermon, and thereafter engages in
the usual administrative activities of the State.
It is well-known that this has been his routine from the time he
became our Prime Minister. What a beautiful example of commemorating the
special significance of the day, but not failing to fulfil his
obligations to Mother Lanka, as her 'caretaker'.
It is an accepted fact that we Sri Lankans 'enjoy' too many holidays.
In fact we have the largest number of holidays when compared with the
rest of the world.
This of course affects adversely the smooth and efficient functioning
of statecraft and the economy of the country. Successive Governments
have made attempts to rectify this situation, but without an acceptable
In the year 2009 the declared Public Holidays amount to 25; six
commemorative events fall on Saturdays or Sundays, and therefore
effectively this number is reduced to 19 holidays, apart from all the
Saturdays and Sundays.
Since we have a five-day working week, we will be 'holidaying' for
almost another four weeks, in addition to all the Saturdays and Sundays.
Can we, a developing nation, afford such a large number of holidays,
together with the 'holiday mentality' (preparation for the holiday and
its aftermath) that spreads beyond the actual 'holiday', further eroding
into the working hours and days?
Can the declaration of a National Holiday, in commemoration of an
event, where the majority of the people will do nothing connected with
the event, be justified?
A closer look at the list of public holidays shows that there are
only two days that are common to all sections of the society, i.e. the
Independence Day and the May Day. To this may be added another eight
days considered to be of the highest importance to all our ethnic and
religious groups: Thai Pongal, Sinhala and Tamil New Year (2), Vesak
(2), Poson, Ramazan and Christmas.
Apart from the Independence Day and May Day, on the days of Thai
Pongal, Sinhala and Tamil New Year, Vesak, Poson, Ramazan and Christmas,
there are large scale religious observances, social events and/or family
reunions. This group of ten could form our National Holidays'.
The remaining ten Poyas, Hadji, Prophet Mohammed's birthday,
Mahasivarathri, Deepavali and Good Friday could be made full working
days, with the exception that the first two hours i.e. 8 to 10 be spent
in an activity devoted to the significance of that particular day's
As an example, on a Poya Day there could be Bana preaching/meditation
session; on Hadji and Prophet Mohammed's birthday, a program on some
aspects of Islam and the life of the Holy Prophet; on Deepavali and Maha
Sivarathri Day a Hindu religious/cultural program and on Good Friday a
Prayer Service, talk and discussion on the life of Jesus Christ.
This will ensure that everyone will at least spend some time
meaningfully, in observance of the particular event commemorated on the
It will also promote understanding of the different religions and
cultures, and integration and harmony amongst the different religious
and ethnic groups, as all separate groups will jointly be involved in
making arrangements and participating in each other's function, and
getting back to work after partaking in fellowship and refreshments.
One should not forget the fact the comparatively only a small number
of Buddhists observe Ata-Sil on most Poya Days.
As Ata-Sil observance need not necessarily be on the Poya Day,
arrangements could be made to hold such observances on Sunday following
or preceding the Poya. In fact most schools arrange their Ata-Sil
observances on the school day preceding the Poya.
Thus it will be seen that this proposed scheme, as well as taking a
cue from our President, will curtail the number of holidays and increase
the number of working days, thereby helping the country's smooth
administration and economy; it will also promote better understanding
and appreciation of each other's cultures, build bridges, facilitate
cross faith interactions and regain inter community trust which is
essential for ensuring harmony and oneness - particularly important in
the coming days of nation rebuilding.
Dr. L. A. W. Sirisena - Colombo 8
I am in full agreement with the opinion of Mahamaharajah that the
national anthem of Sri Lanka must be only in Sinhala. I believe it is
ridiculous to have the national anthem of a country in two or more
But the reasons Mahamaharajah quotes in support of his argument smack
of racialism and Sinhala chauvinism. The national anthem of India is not
in Hindi as he says.
It is the song of Nobel Prize winning poet Rabindranath Tagore
written in Bengali language - a language of a minority people of India.
The Hindi speaking majority in India never protested against this.
Also for his information, let it be known that not only the Sinhala
people have no other country than Sri Lanka in the world, so also are
the Hindi speaking people who have no other country than India to call
The Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh does not belong to the
Hindi speaking Hindu majority community of India. He belongs to a
minority community - the Punjabi speaking Sikhs who profess Sikh
religion. Two years ago, it was the case of the President of India being
a Tamil speaking Muslim minority Dr. Abdul Kalam while the Prime
Minister was Dr. Manmohan Singh.
I. A. Hameed
I understand that the cancer hospital project initiated by our
cricketers will be dropped due to shortfall of projected funds. Several
donors had not fulfilled their commitments. This is a very important
project and I suggest that a drive for fresh fund collection be started
on the following basis:-
(a) A day be selected in June for public contribution.
(b) A special bank account be opened and published accordingly.
(c) All those who are employed could contribute a minimum of Rs. 10
(d) Business enterprises should contribute material amounts. They may
be granted tax concessions as well.
Further accommodation facility at Maharagama Hospital for outdoor
patients also should be improved. Some kind-hearted Buddhist priests are
looking after this and we must extend our support to them.
I suggest a recognized organization should takeover this task and
request public contribution. I appeal to all Sri Lankans even those who
are abroad to contribute towards these projects which need urgent
S. R. Balachandran - Colombo 6
With chants of Impermanence, saffron robes in line,
Lanka mourns her dead taking terror strip North.
Blood of her blood were they, pride of her pride,
Fallen freeing a people terrorized.
Solemn the drums herald heroes ascending the higher realms,
Songs of sorrow sadden the Deva abodes.
Liberty's music thrills the released land,
Glory wipes a welling tear for soldiers returning no more.
They went with valour to battle; they were in their prime,
Strong of limb, firm of mind, steely eyes aglow,
With compassion in heart, fighting enemy's heavy guns with light,
They fell saving the innocents from Tigers' jaws of death.
Their duty done, in restful sleep far from their beloveds' touch;
Beholden faces of the Saved etched deep in their cold-warm hearts;
Their debt repaid to Motherland beyond any worldly measure,
They rest from their labours; happy for a Nation reborn.
Till the Sun and the Moon light the Land of Lanka,
We shall remember them.
We shall remember them.
(The famous poem of Laurence Binyon 'For the Fallen' (1914) motivated
me to write this short poem about the heroism and the compassion of the
Fallen Sri Lankan soldiers in the Vanni)
- Lakshman Wickramasinghe