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Thursday, 27 January 2011






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The National Anthem

We should be grateful to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his gracious comments on the amazing zeal of Ananda Samarakoone as the composer of our National Anthem.

Not only was he a musician, but also a brilliant painter who has held many exhibitions in India.

As a schoolboy, in 1940-1943, I used to listen to his musical programs.

But I am rather surprised and sadened to note that the opening lines of the Anthem. Namo Namo Matha is now being mysteriously altered as Sri Lanka Matha Apa Sri Lanka. This seems rather ludicrous. The original form as Apa-Sri-iee-Lanka and Namo Namo Matha must be re-instated. The original form as Apa-Sri-iee-Lanka and Namo Namo Matha must be re-instated.

Elmo Fernando

Boat service at Nagadeepa ferry

I visited Jaffna peninsula on December 23 and 24, as I was anxious to worship the Nagadeepa Temple.

It was an encouraging and a delightful sight to see devotees thronging at the ferry to embark into trawler that convey pilgrims to the temple, a distance of about half a kilometre more or less 20 minutes sailing in Palk Straits to reach the island of Nagadeepa.

As I saw the structural condition of these trawler boats, I had to concentrate about my safety. The trawler boats are ramshackle, ill-fitted wooden vessels with rust on every piece of iron fitting. As the trawler boat takes off skipping over the restless waves, the creaking sound created as a result of the friction of planks in the trawler causes a sensation in the heart of every pilgrim as to whether the vessel would collapse or capsize at any moment.

With such a sensational feeling and having conscientiously determined to face any eventuality. I too stepped down the ladder and crept into a gloomy cabin, inside the trawler, and it was thoroughly congested with pilgrims. There was insufficient ventilation.

The toll-keeper charges Rs 40 per person for the up and down boat trip.

The pilgrims are advised to wear life-saving kits. These kits are heaped up on the jetty and the pilgrims are instructed to wear them prior to embarking into the cabin. Some of these kits are torn and the zips cannot be connected. As such these life saving apparatuses will never serve the purpose of expected safety of the lives of the pilgrims.

If any leak erupts through any loosened planks as a result of the lashing of the waves, there is an impending danger to the lives of the pilgrims.

The trawler boats plying between the mainland and the Nagadeepa island, except the Navy trawler are unfit to be permitted to convey pilgrims across the sea to the Nagadeepa Temple. Sinhalese and Tamil devotees are thronging at the ferry to visit and worship this ancient historical temple, which is nestling in an island in the blue waters of the Palk Straits.

V R L Gurugamage, Dodanduwa.

Lake House Publications

A few years ago, there was a newspaper stand, for Lake House Publications, called (Sannivedana Piyasa) Media Information Centre, at BIA Katunayake. It benefited Sri Lankans leaving the country from the BIA.

But unfortunately that news stand was withdrawn and removed from the airport departure terminal. I think it was myopic decision taken by the Authorities.

This has inconvenienced air travellers.

There are some book stalls beyond the emigration barrier where Lake House Newspapers are, but one needs to pay foreign currency.

Therefore if the Lake House Chairman draws his attention to re-establish the former news stand and the Media Information Centre it would be a great service to air travellers and the public.

C M Kamburawala

Siri Sunanda Primary School needs attention

Waskaduwa, Siri Sunanda Primary School of the Kalutara Educational Zone has been deteriorating for want of children due to the ill-treatments and the negligence of the educational officers.

Though this primary school had been very successful and popular, the present prevailing situation of the school is sorrowful and deplorable.

It's very much regrettable to mention that parents are very much reluctant to admit their children to Grade 1 classes of this school.

Responsible officers immediately should look into the unsatisfactory situation prevailing in this school. They must take remedial measures to improve and popularize Siri Sunanda Primary School for the benefit of the down-trodden and the poor villagers of Aramba, Waskaduwa and Pothupitiya.

H L Sunil Shantha

Islamic public holidays - 2011

The Government has allocated three Public Holidays during the year for Muslims.

Islamic religious events are based on the Lunar calendar. The authentic Lunar Calendar in Sri Lanka appears in the desk calendar printed and issued by the Government Printer. It gives the correct time of the birth of the new moon and the subsequent phases.

The Buddhists follow this calendar. Their Poya Days are correctly depicted and they have never made a mistake with regard to their Poya Days. The Grand Mosque requests the Muslims through the media to look for the new moon at the beginning of every Lunar month. This is a futile exercise.

According to Meteorological sources the chances of the visibility of the new moon on the last day in Sri Lanka is very remote due to its geographical position. It may be visible in Saudi Arabia.

The new moon will be visible in Sri Lanka only on the second day.

Based on this data, the Muslim Religious Department informs the Government Printer the dates of the Muslim Religious events of the year. The Muslim Public Holidays are based on this wrong assumption of the visibility of the new moon on the second day of the Lunar month.

According to Sahih-Al-Buhari the authentic Hadeedth of the Prophet Mohammed the religious observances in Islam have to be performed on the correct date and time if your worship is to be accepted by Allah.

The first day of the fast during Ramazan has to be on the first day of the Lunar Month of Ramazan.

One cannot fast on the second day and expect it be accepted as a first day because one is bound to miss the most important night of Ramazan which is the night of Qadr the night in which the Holy Quran was revealed by Allah through Angel Gibreel to the Prophet.

This is what the authentic hadeedth of the Holy Prophet Sahih-al-Bukhari Volume III Hadeedth No 234 says; "Search for the Night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Therefore if one starts the fast on the second day of the Lunar month of Ramazan, one is bound to miss this Holy night.

Further if a person does not commence his fast on the first day of Ramazan as it often happens in Sri Lanka he will be compelled to fast on the day of Id-ul-Fitr which is the the Festival Day to complete his 29 or 30 days which is mandatory. Fasting on the day of Id-ul-Fitr is forbidden by Hadeedth No 212 of the same Chapter and Volume.

According to the Lunar calendar published in the Desk Calendar for 2011 the first day of the Hamazan Fast for 2011 will be on Monday 1st August 2011. The Id-ul-Fitr Ramazan Festival day will be on August 30, 2011 and not on the 31st as shown in the calendar.

Arafa day will be on November 6, 2011 and the Haj Festival will be on November 7, 2011 and not on November 6, 2011 as shown in the Calendar.

The Religious Affairs Ministry must take immediate action to rectify these mistakes failing which grave hardships will be caused to the Muslims.

Judges in the past have refused to take Judicial Notice of these sudden changes and grant dates in case where Muslims are involved. Muslim lawyers keep away from Court if a particular day is suddenly declared as the festival day other than the declared holiday. Children cannot keep away from examinations if a day is suddenly announced as the festival day.

The data with regard to the phases of the moon given in the official desk calendar are perfectly accurate.

This writer has followed the desk calendar for the last 25 years with regard to fasting and the Arafa Day and I have found that it tallies perfectly with the dates announced by the Haram Sheriff in Mecca.

We are two and a half hours ahead of Saudi in time and we will not be making a mistake if we follow the Holy Mosque in Mecca in determining our times for all our religious events in Sri Lanka. In most of the western countries where the moon is not sighted Haram Sheriff in Mecca is followed in determining their religious events.

The Holy Prophet has not said anywhere in the Hadeedth that the new moon must be sighted in every country to commence the fast. If it is sighted in Saudi Arabia it is sufficient for us in Sri Lanka to follow because we are two and a half hours ahead of them.

Al Haj M B M Zubair

Crop and yield

I wish to share the following information and recommendations, on the above subject with smallholders, which I am confident would be beneficial to them, if correctly implemented.

Increase in crops and yields on coconut, rubber and tea depends on the following developments against each crop as follows:-

Coconut - Healthy trunk and crown for increasing nuts per palm.

Rubber - Growth of girth and bark for extra latex.

Tea - Healthy bush formation for more crop, with shorter duration of plucking rounds.

In addition to the above, the stand required under each crop should be maintained, enhancing the above further. To achieve the above improvements, in addition to fertilizing; cultivation practices such as draining, terracing, mulching round coconut palms, husk burying and establishing ground covers should also be undertaken preventing soil erosion.

Needless to mention that correct harvesting techniques should be implemented, specially where tea and rubber are concerned.

Needing attention is necessary during the early stages of planting. Failure to do so, would register considerable vacancies depriving the above from being achieved. Thereby preventing this position from being corrected upto the time of replanting, causing a colossal loss, which should be avoided. A healthy well maintained plantation is the best investment one could boast of'.

Tommy Wanigesinghe Kurunegala

Teachers of government schools

Many teachers of government schools where the classrooms are highly and inconveniently overcrowded with children, find it difficult and uncomfortable to carry on their teaching process.

Primary class teachers who most often face unpleasant and unhealthy situation are critical of their day-to-day workload such as marking of students' exercise books, home work, assignments, mathematical calculations, lettering, lexical errors, punctuation errors (both in Sinhala and English), and even managing the classrooms which are most often overcrowded.

Some hard working teachers in-charge of Grade 5 scholarship classes are said to be much reluctant and are very averse to working in these over crowded classes due to more responsibilities, interferences, and criticisms.

The most unfortunate and shocking reality is that most of the weak students or slow learners who deserve much attention of the teachers, become less regarded or neglected by many teachers who are expected to cover up the whole syllabus within the limited short time duration as much of the subject components require more time for the teaching process.

READER -------- Short hybrid, short x short I read the Daily News article of Hybrid saplings distribution from March which appeared on January 23, 2011.

Why not the Coconut Cultivation Board (CCB) add to its efforts, linking up with Hoteliers Associations in their provinces/districts in promoting the importance of coconut growing?

Many Hoteliers in the coastal belt in particular have a beach frontage, usually at least one-four acres with tall trees bearing no coconuts at all; in fact, most of the trees are pruned in such manner; the trees do not carry the required bunches - they are devoid of nuts. It is unacceptable to notice deliberate removal of coconuts from plants which are still able to produce nuts.

Why not - out with the tall trees but plant the short hybrid, short x short; the average height of such tree being five-seven ft. The short hybrid, showing economic returns within three-four years, large bunches and pretty to look at, is a better plant to grow, in such beach hotel areas.

Growing such either at the hotel compound or the beach front is easy; there is no shortage of hotel labour, organic manure from the kitchen is in abundance and of course there is enough water. I was impressed to note such new cultivation coming up at Blue Waters, the hotel at Wadduwa. They have planted the short hybrid at one end while uprooting the tall trees. It looks well too; blending well with other flora and providing shade; the trees standing pretty. Nobody ignores such a tree.

CCB ought to liaise with relevant hoteliers in their districts, introducing methods and promotion of coconut cultivation; promotion and cultivation they had done for years so diligently in their provinces. Although, it is a new area of promotion for the CCB, any improvement here, will have that impact on tourists, on coconuts and related value added products, they are already aware of. Locals, visiting such hotels have reasons to copy a compliment in such promotions. Planting thambili trees in equal terms, cannot be seen as irrelevant.

The hydbrid short x short is an example to review as an inducement to increase coconut production and by-products. The idea is to expose the validity of the correct coconut plant for the foreign tourist and local.

Lal Keerthie Fernando, Copenhagen, Denmark




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