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Compiled by Damayanthi HEWAMANNA

Methods and practices of Chena cultivation

Sri Lankan culture, economy and social values have been constructed around 'agriculture' for a long period. Indigenous agriculture can be divided into two, which are Chena cultivation and Paddy cultivation.

Lakbukete which is used to take water or seeds by the farmers and Dumessa which is used to dry things

There is evidence to prove that the livelihood of the ancient man of this land was formed by chena cultivation. The natives lived on hunting and chena cultivation. That may be the reason why the Veddas, people in this land today like chena cultivation much. In the past, crops for raw materials, which are like cotton were cultivated except crops for food. In Mahavamsa it is written that Kuveni was spinning cotton when prince VijeyaM arrived here. And also there are some information written about chena cultivation of cotton in Ummagga Jathakaya which was written in the Kurunegala era.

As Aryans began their agriculture mainly with irrigation systems, the specialty of chena cultivation descended. But in Thonigala inscription (in the fourth century) it is mentioned that the Aryan also paid attention on chena cultivation for some extent which was limited to the natives.

The chena cultivation is a migratory and primary method of cultivation which does not need water like in paddy cultivation. The cultivation is mainly done in Yala and Maha seasons, and there is not a season between them. And also as this is a migratory system, any opportunity in building strong civilization around chena cultivation was not possible.

Sesame cultivation

Though chena cultivation does not have much customs like in paddy cultivation, there are some simple customs and special vocabulary which are related to chena cultivation. There are some similarities in this vocabulary and customs in different areas. But according to the features of sub-cultures in those areas these vocabulary and customs change. Nuvara Kalaviya, Sath Koralaya, Digamadulla, Binthanna and Ruhuna are famous in chena cultivation. But there is evidence that in past the chena cultivation was done in wet zone except in dry zone. There are many rituals done when a chena is cultivated but differ according to the areas. First of all the farmers in a village get together and select an appropriate plot of land in their village to cultivate. The selected plots are mainly named according to the forest in that selected plot. Some of them are, Nava Deli chena is a plot which is prepared after cutting the thick jungle and burning it. Ath Danduwa chena is a plot which is prepared cutting the trees which are grown to arm size and burning it. The trees in an old chena which was cultivated 10-15 years ago - then abandoned- grow into arm size.

Apala chena is a plot which is prepared cutting the wines and other trees which are with thin trunks and branches tangle together in to a small forest and burning them. Kanathu chena is a plot which is prepared to cultivate which was abandoned for two or four year's time.

Drying sesame

There are special ways in dividing this selected plot among the farmers. The first one is called Mul keta chena. Here the centre of the main plot is marked and then it is divided into the sub plots in the shape of triangle, around that centre. Then comes the Iraveli chena which is the main plot is in the shape of rectangle and the sub plots are also divided as so.

So the chena cultivation is done as a group work as a group of farmers are cultivating the plots which are attached. Then the chena is cleaned after doing religious rituals, and then it is burnt. After that a strong fence is built around the chena with the use of untouched or half burnt trunks and branches. Then seeds are sowed. After that the vegetables and grains are grown and the farmers stay in the chena to protect them from birds and some animals line elephant, wild boar, porcupine, rabbit etc.

For that the farmer builds a small hut a huge tree which will help him to see the whole chena and as well as will give him protection from the big animals like elephant.

Then going through a lot of hard work, the crop are taken to the home, offering them the first portion to the Buddha and gods.

That is how we, Sri Lankans proudly owned a self-sufficient agriculture system which provided our fore-fathers with nutritious foods to gain strength to build the huge Dagobas and tanks and the marvelous creations such as Sigiriya. The time has come to us to recreate that back boned culture; agriculture.

Ten reasons you should consider adopting a mature rescue

Having to keep up with the monthly vaccinations

1. You would get the same thing if you were buying a dog - maybe even better! The bond that you would have with a rescue dog is strong. A dog that has not had the greatest start in life or just has been 'thrown away' because its owners could not take care of it, is more likely to bond with their new family. Once the dog is in its new home it wants to please as much as possible so they are never again 'thrown away.' Most rescue dogs make very loving and loyal companions.

2. A best friend. With an adult dog (two years and over) you have an instant best friend. You don't have to wait for your puppy to grow up to see if it enjoys doing the same activities that you do. When you come home from work you'll want to relax with your dog rather than cleaning up after it.

After all the messes, its the annual bath

3. Getting a puppy is just like having a baby - not getting a good night sleep. Adult dogs are not as demanding as puppies. They do not need to be taken out at exactly 5:30 a.m. every morning or are up and want to play at 3:00 a.m. Want time to rest and some peace and quiet get an adult rescue dog.

4. A house broken dog. In a shelter or rescue organization dogs are all taught to be house trained. Getting a puppy from a pet store means training, training and more training. A puppy needs to be on a consistent schedule - because puppies will go when they want to go.

5. Do you think you will have time to take your puppy out every hour to be house trained, feed him, and clean up his messes? An average working person gets home from work late and does not have the time or is too tired to do all those things before the day is over. Having an adult dog means you will be able to have more time for yourself not taking the dog out.

6. Less bills to pay. A puppy needs to be taken to a vet for a series of shots, facials, to be altered and one or two emergency trips if they swallowed something dangerous.

Multiply each visit by Rs.600 or more plus shots and medications. That can add up to more than Rs.1500 a month. When adopting a rescue dog they should be up to date on all shots, altered, heart worm negative, and on prevention.

House trained

7. In tact clothes and furniture. A puppy constantly needs to chew on things, if it's a table leg, socks, or shoes, the puppy does not care as long as it can chew. No matter how much you'll keep an eye on them they'll always get into something. A puppy needs to be on surveillance 24-7 unlike older dogs who can run around the house without destroying it.

8. Getting an older dog means you know what you're getting. A puppy is unpredictable on how big it will get, what will its temperament be, and if it will be good with children. When adopting you get a dog best suited to your needs and not a puppy you don't know how will turn out.

9. When buying a puppy people go by a color or look. It is not a very good basis to go on. Puppies often change in behavior and look. You might get a couch puppy when you love the outdoors, or vice versa. When adopting you know specifically what your getting and how that dog behaves.

10. Knowing you saved a life might be the most rewarding of all. Not only are you thankful you have a companion, your companion is grateful he is still living. Puppies in pet stores are guaranteed to be bought, just because there're cute, but not every dog is rescued. I know you can't save every dog but one life DOES make a difference.

Many people think dogs that are rescued have behavior problems or are genetically inferior. That is NOT true.

Many dogs are very sweet and just want a home. You can spend Rs. 5000 -10000 or more on a dog and get a bad dog. It all depends on the dog. Some people do not realize the time, effort, love and money that has to be contributed in raising a dog, and just forget about them so they give them to shelters.

But adopting just might be the best decision you ever made.



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