“இனிய புத்தாண்டு நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள் & ශුභ අළුත් අවුරුද්දක් වේවා”

It’s Avurudu time. We live in Italy where there is no koha, alas. Other avurudus were sad and void of hope; in short, pretty hopeless. There was no end in sight. Kohas sounded hollow and Avurudu only meant that Southern Colombo people could leave the city for a long weekend confining themselves to safe cities outside the war zone.

kokisWe managed pretty well though, as we did all our lives, to make Avurudu a time of celebration with friends and to eat some kavum and aasmi type stuff with ripe bananas. The more traditional of us would have a ‘gama’ to go to and at this time would return to the walawwa or some relative who stayed behind. A friend, Dileepa, once said to me in Sinhala ‘ Avuruddata yanna gamak nethi kenaa duppath manussayek’ ‘those who do not have a village to return to in the time of Avurudu are truly poor’.

I am in the global village and so I went to Pali kade to wish Pali and family from Matara a happy Avurudu. He had not got kavum this year cos his mother had just passed away and there were no celebrations…

I called my mother’s carer who is living in the old house and looking after her and she said she had made kiribath for my mother that morning…

Times have changed and are changing. It takes a lot of imagination and creativity to bring Avurudu in its truest meaning alive. But I think it is not impossible. Maybe we should focus less on the Kavum and external manifestations of the traditions and focus on the values themselves.

Yesterday I read this super post by a friend of mine whose family goes back to Moratuwa, where mine is. Udan Fernando returned from the Netherlands to Sri Lanka and lives there now. He writes about Diversity being a Blessing as he finds a Muslim eatery that is still open at Avurudu, but there is a subtle plea in that post if one detects it.

Avurudu_SwingHere is another beautiful thought at avurudu and strangely, this too is from someone who happened to live his childhood at some point in Moratuwa. Thereafter he lived in other countries and is a rather unique human being if you read his blogs and literary interests. Sereno Barr-K as I call him in my mind, went to school with a brother of mine. I hope I meet him personally at some point in this life. Here is his writing  and remembering what it was like to have three swings made by his Thamil father in the garden and how traditions are dying out: Best wishes for a Sri Lankan New Year ! Yes, Sri Lankan.

It’s not the swing, or the semantics in the end, it is what and who we would like to be and how we would like to evolve, what we keep and what we improve on that will make the Sinhala, Thamil and Sri Lankan including Muslim avurudu values truly worth celebrating both in Sri Lanka and in the Global Gama-Village  where, Seeni Sambol and Katta Sambol doesn’t always come in MD bottles and red rice and Maggi coconut milk can make a nice kiribath!

“இனிய புத்தாண்டு நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள் & ශුභ අළුත් අවුරුද්දක් වේවා”

Diversity is a blessing: Udan at the Muslim ‘eatery’ !

Gaya’s intro: The irony of this post below is that one year ago, when the BBS were attempting to stir up anti-Muslim sentiment, here was the iSrilankan Avurudu post 2013 echoing a campaign by non-Muslims to turn the current around: Buy Muslim without fail this Avurudu!

UDAN FERNANDO

Colombo and outskirts are having their usual ghost town character during the Avurudu (New Year) season. No vehicles on the road. Very few people are around. All shops are closed except a random Muslim eatery where I had my brunch with a few interesting people who could not make to New Year celebrations with their respective families.

One’s a security guard of Burgher King. He could not get leave to visit his family in Embilipitiya.

The other is a manager of a small shop who’s also entrusted with looking after the premises while the owner is away.

They looked a bit sad but when I chatted with them, the common Sri Lankan expression came up: monawa karanna da (what-to-do).

There were two budget-tourists who were relieved that there’s at least one place for them to have cheap food. Thanks to our neighborhood Muslim ‘kade’ (way-side eatery) a few of us could have food. Thought it’s a blessing that the New Year is celebrated only by Sinhala and Tamil ethnic groups! And diversity, I felt, is not just a normative consideration but also a very pragmatic one!

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Photos: Udan Fernando