A fascinating story
ill- health, Kalasuri Panibharatha was on stage at the John de Silva
Theatre recently, obviously appreciative of the praises showered
on him for his service to the arts, by university dons and others.
was the launch of the biography - Panibharatha Charitapadanaya -
by Anura Priyalal Sirisena who graduated from the Peradeniya University
with an upper second class from the Faculty of Fine Arts.
is a fascinating story. Hailing from the 'Algama Parapura' - the
generation of dancers from Algama in the Hatara Korale, he had two
big names in his immediate family circle - Algama Siriya Gurunnanse
and his son Algama Kiriganitha Gurunnanse. Panibharatha, Kiriganitha's
elder brother Pabanchi Guru's son, was to make a name for himself
just like the other two.
Born on February
24, 1920, his father was keen to make the young Panis a Veda Mahattaya.
He was sent to Ratnapura to be understudy to Tibbotuwawe Veda Hamuduruwo.
But a visit to the Saman Devale where his father's brother was due
to perform, changed Panibharatha's entire career. He was so thrilled
watching him that he decided to give up learning medicine and take
to dancing. "I knew it was in my blood," he recollects.
From then on he became his uncle's pupil and learnt the entire gamut
of dancing and drumming.
It is not easy
to find someone who has devoted his entire life - over six decades
- to the cause of dancing. Being essentially a simple man from the
village, Panibharata had to face immense problems in his career.
He did not have influential friends in the city. It was a bitter
struggle right through.
not got what he deserves," Professor Tissa Kariyawasam told
the audience. "He was a hard worker. He knew what he was saying
and what he was doing. Yet not many appreciated his work. He has
not been honoured the way he should be." He should know because
Panibharatha was head of dancing at the College of Fine Arts when
he was the administrative head, after it was taken over by the Kelaniya
is indebted to S.L.B. Kapukotuwa, one-time Director of Education
who was an ardent supporter of local arts, and J.D.A. Perera, the
renowned artist who was head of the paintings section in Technical
College and later became head of Heywood School of Fine Arts. Panibharatha
got his break when he was selected as the drummer for the well-known
dancer Chandralekha, J.D.A. Perera's wife. A tour of India with
her in 1938 helped him a great deal and when he was awarded a scholarship
to Santiniketan in 1944, he made full use of the opportunity to
prove his talents. It was after his return from India in 1948 that
he took the name 'Panibharatha' on a suggestion by three influential
persons of the day - S.L.B. Kapukotuwa, Professor G.P. Malalasekera
and DB Dhanapala.
acknowledges with gratitude the immense service of D.B. Dhanapala,
as Editor of the 'Lankadipa', in uplifting the image of the local
artistes. He was the first to address a dancer as 'Mahatha' (Mister)
giving up the word 'Gurunnanse'.
The book records
in detail the yeoman service rendered by Panibharatha in the cause
of dancing including the innovative forms of drumming he created.
The Godage publication is thus a useful guide to get a glimpse of
one aspect of our rich culture while paying tribute to a worthy
of a lifetime
support for artistes
of state support for our artistes? Director, Cultural Affairs
Department, Lakshman Perera said there are various projects
to support artistes, including a programme to assist underprivileged
artistes by giving Rs. 2000 a month. At present, 1800 artistes
island-wide benefit from this scheme.
artiste receives the 'Kalavibhushana' title, it comes with
a fixed deposit of Rs.10,000 that can be withdrawn whenever
the artiste wants to. However, this title is awarded only
to artistes above 60 years of age and is meant as a pension,
is also an insurance scheme called 'Kala Devi' where artistes
have to pay a sum of Rs. 75/- per month to obtain the benefits
which include Rs.10,000 for any handicap or lifetime ailment,
Rs.15,000 for hospitalization annually and Rs. 25,000 at death.
to these, each Kalayathana receives a sum of Rs. 3-6,000.
The Department also recently launched an identity card scheme
for artistes to give them free transportation in public buses
and trains, the opportunity to watch two films screened by
the National Film Corporation annually free of charge, and
half rate lodging facilities in any Mahaweli bungalow in the
agree that the monetary assistance is insufficient. But we
have a big problem with funds. We have a budget of twenty-eight
lakhs for Kalayathanas and another twenty-eight lakhs to spend
on underprivileged artistes. And each year thirty Kalayathanas
and under privileged artistes are added to the list,"
Mr. Perera said.
for medication etc is required family members are expected
to make a request to the Cultural Affairs Department at Sethsiripaya.
said that as for a long-term benefit scheme, the only option
is for cultural institutes themselves to take up the cause.
The Department could then assist their project, he added.
benefits and support have to be requested and many artistes
are not aware of the assistance available or how to get it.
that although in theory help is available, bureaucratic red
tape stands in the way. For instance, although identity cards
have been issued to some artists, the necessary seals that
authorize the privileges are missing, artistes say.
Thus, do they really benefit?
tirikita, jeng takata taka
Jeng jeng tarikita jeng'
and other drums often heard from his house are silent. Instead,
we are greeted with a smiling 'Ayubowan'. Now 82, the once graceful
and energetic dancer and drummer, Sithrachari Panibharatha is no
longer in the limelight.
For three years
now, he has been forced to take time off from his beloved dancing
and drumming, due to an ailment in his knees. He is not happy with
the situation but has come to accept it.
body, now aged, yearns to dance a 'kasthirama' or a 'kohomba kankariya'
but he is barely able to walk. A family member, often a grand- daughter
or a sister helps him to move around his home at Rajagiriya.
nice to see someone walking through that door. Few people come to
meet me nowadays, since I fell ill," he says with a tinge of
regret. "I cannot dance anymore as my knees are not as strong
as they used to be. I have been under medication, western and ayurvedic,
for three years now."
a pioneer in the arts and cultural revival in Sri Lanka at a time
when traditional artistes were taking to other professions, today
spends his days amongst the souvenirs of a glamorous past.
Among his notable
achievements are the formulation of a National Traditional Dance
Troupe, helping launch a school (Heywood) for arts and cultural
studies, being instrumental in formulating the curriculum for dance
and music and promoting the status of traditional dancers and musicians
in Sri Lanka. He has also held the position of Chairman of the Arts
Council for many years and was an advisor on cultural matters and
policy making until recently.
sculptures, and photographs decorate his house. The awards are many.
He received the title of Kalasuri and an Honorary Doctorate from
the University of Kelaniya for his contributions to National Arts
and Culture (a lifetime achievement award). He was also awarded
the Bunka Prize in '98 ( presented by Japan- Sri Lanka Friendship
Cultural Fund), the National Achievement Award in '97, Sahashra
Pranama in 2000 and the Sithru Award.
He had the privilege
of playing the first opening 'magul bera' theme on Radio Ceylon
in 1928, and dancing at the Albert Hall in London and at the Kerala
Kala Mandalaya in India. He has also performed with the National
Dance Troupe in many countries. He still finds it difficult to walk
past a drum or an 'udekki', without remembering the 'good old days'.
As he spoke
to us, his body moved in the rhythms and actions of dance, his voice
rising and falling in tune, sometimes in a 'kavi' and other times
in words. "I am rich in culture and art and I have received
many honours throughout my lifetime, even though I may be poor in
a material sense.""It
was I who brought together artistes scattered over the island and
instituted a school of dance. I have brought dancing this far. Some
of my students are Channa Wijewardene, Prof. Mudiyansae Disanayake
and even the late President R. Premadasa," he said with pride.
paid teachers out of his pocket and made arrangements for students
who passed out to obtain employment as professional dancers and
artistes. Many believe his greatest contribution to the arts was
the revival of dance through the modification of traditional dance
cultures (i.e Sabaragamuwa, Pahatarata and Udarata) to suit the
present without which traditional arts may not have survived.
Yet there is
a regret that for all his contributions to the country he now has
only the pension for having taught dancing for over twenty years
at Nalanda, Royal and later the Mirigama Senior School.
He does not
ask for help. "I received Rs. 50,000 about ten years ago, and
of course Rs.10,000 as Kalavibhushana. No other assistance, even
to help me through my illness which cost me about one lakh during
my initial hospitalization," he said, not as a complaint but
as an answer to a question as to whether there is any state assistance
for artistes in need, who have contributed immensely to the preservation
of our heritage.
is an urgent requirement to bring together traditional artistes
to form an institute which provides them employment and thereby
support the continuation of the art form while re-establishing traditional
arts. Maybe they could extend it to support a pension scheme for
these artistes if everything goes well," he says in parting.
medicines are made by man; Man is not perfect and medicines made
by man are not perfect. We should therefore integrate all medicines
for the betterment of man," asserts Dr. Selvakumar Selvathurai
who offers integrated medicine at his new clinic, Devi's Integrated
Medical Centre in Colombo 3.
the first of its kind in the country has been operational since
mid-March and is equipped to treat a variety of illnesses such as
arthritis, asthma, migraine, sinusitis, goitre, diabetes, ischaemic
heart disease, skin disorders like leucodermia, impaired vision
and hearing, sports injuries and other cosmetic treatments.
ayurvedic massage, homeopathy and aromatherapy in different combinations
are used for long term, effective healing. The team at the clinic
consists of Dr. Selvakumar whose speciality is Auriculotherapy (Ear
Acupuncture) although he is also trained in Homeopathy, Dr. Svetland,
an aromatherapist and Mr. Chandana, an ayurvedic physiotherapist.
originated in the foothills of the Himalayas, the Chinese preserved
it and gave it back to the western world, even though Allopathy
had gained prominence with the discovery of antibiotics and the
x-ray machines. The eastern (Chinese) form of acupuncture was however
restricted mainly to the body.
It was French
neurologist Paul Nogier, considered the pioneer of auriculotherapy
who contributed to the advancement of ear acupuncture.
in simple terms is ear acupuncture. It applies the principles of
acupuncture to specific points on the ear. Auriculotherapists believe
that healing processes can be promoted by working with these points
on the ear, because the ear contains many blood vessels and nerve
endings that, when stimulated, influence the organs and bodily functions.
Using electrical impulses on the skin of the ear, problems could
be detected in the internal organs and thereby illnesses diagnosed.
Since then experiments
conducted in the West and China indicate that auriculotherapy is
effective in both treatment and diagnosis of conditions.
works can be explained as follows: If a person has a Tennis Elbow,
a point in the ear or the 'ear elbow' shows sensitivity. When this
point on the ear is stimulated, it works back to the brain to initiate
the healing procedure and it sends impulses to the elbow to heal
itself, thereby activating the body's own healing mechanism.
(machine used to find the sensitive point of ear) is used to probe
different points on the ear. When it gets to the points that have
cellular damage, the sensitivity gets heightened and the conductivity
increases on the machine to show what part of the human body is
pathologically ill. The process of acupuncture therefore is the
keyboard entry that initiates the healing mechanism and brings about
the healing process.
What the team
at Devi's Integrated Medical Centre strives for is - not just to
identify disease but instead try to find out what type of person
has the disease and treat the person holistically. Should a person
have a frozen shoulder, it could be treated within seconds through
acupuncture and mobility could be restored. However that would only
be treating the symptom. They would rather understand the root cause.
The frozen shoulder could be an indication of a problem connected
to the spine, the ribs, the heart, asthma or even diabetes. Once
this is understood they would through integrated medicine treat
the root cause and make the person whole again.
Towards this Dr. Selvakumar blends the western form of acupuncture
(ear acupuncture), scalp acupuncture and the eastern (Chinese) body
3 1/2 year old
Muskie Mam, a premature twin, suffering from Cerebral Palsy has
been taking treatment at the centre for the past seven months. The
condition caused by foetal stress has resulted in epileptic attacks,
spasticity of limbs and low immune system due to which diseases
are easily manifested. This child from Kurunegala is now being treated
with non-retention acupuncture followed by acupressure at the same
point to strengthen immune system, ayurvedic massage, crniaosacral
massage (of the scalp), homeopathy and aromatherapy. "He is
responding well to the treatment - the attacks are less frequent,
he is able to balance himself better, recognises others and recalls
his brother at home," says Mujeem, father of the child.
at Switzerland for 15 years, Sri Skandarajah transferred all his
savings through a colleague before returning to Sri Lanka. To his
disappointment, he found no trace of his hard-earned income on his
arrival. Skandarajah now is depressed and prefers to be in seclusion.
Urged by the doctor he now comes into the clinic for acupuncture,
homeopathy, nerve strengthening ayurvedic massage and counselling.
given on Suzanne Jeyarani's hip to treat a lump in the throat when
she was just a year old affected a nerve in the leg and since then
her leg below the knee is useless. But from the treatment she received
here she now feels her cold leg warming up.
Among the other
interesting cases at the clinic are those suffering from the excruciating
pain of Trigeminal Neuraegia (pain on one side of the head, affecting
eye, chin and cheek), asthma and migraine.
in General Medicine, Homeopathy and with a PhD in Auriculotherapy
in Norway, Dr. Selvakumar has practised integrated medicine techniques
widely in Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. He has now returned
to serve his motherland. He also sees patients at the Kalubowila
Hospital. Incidentally, it was Prof. Anton Jayasuriya from the Kalubowila
Hospital who initiated Dr. Selvakumar into acupuncture and accompanied
him to China to study the subject.
Dr. S. Svetland,
the Russian aromatherapist who has also worked with Dr. Selvakumar
in Europe uses products made from essential oils of plants and takes
care of the cosmetology cases. Using micro current she does non-surgical
face-lifts, wrinkle removal, body shaping, complexion improvement,
cellulite and acne treatment. With the use of her creams and lotions,
she helps with clinical cases to aid relaxation and stress relief.
Selvakumararecommends allopathy / western medicine for emergencies,
he believes strongly in activating one's own healing mechanism.
"We need to strike a balance between the different forms of
medicine - the answer is integrated medicine," he says.
women police stations in Tamil Nadu provide a much needed help-line
No longer silent victims
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
Visiting Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin), a conservative little town
in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, I was delighted to notice something
that appealed to my rather feminist eye. Adjoining the small red-
brick police station, I saw a help-line established for women in
distress and to my joy, a women's police station.
I gathered, was meant for women to send urgent messages seeking
help, all free of charge. The centre had three volunteers and was
At 8. 30 a.m.,
the women's unit was already recording complaints. Two women were
seated before a woman constable, and yes, they certainly appeared
to be more comfortable relating their tales of woe to fellow women,
though they are in uniform.
was manned by women police constables. They spoke very little English,
and I spoke no Tamil, but we managed to communicate. While answering
my queries using her little knowledge of English and more body language,
Inspector Shashikala was turning around and firing instructions
to a woman police constable about recording a statement.
were both sari clad, one a new bride who had been harassed by her
husband and mother-in-law over the lack of a substantial dowry.
The other, a middle aged woman, complaining of a domestic dispute.
It seemed obvious that in this traditional town, the women's unit
was a great source of encouragement to women to come out and record
a statement against their own families, masters or spouses.
" It is
not easy for these women to open up. The Indian women have silently
suffered, especially with regard to the provision of dowries. Things
are changing now. But, still a woman without a pot of gold is worthless
in the eyes of many a man," explained Inspector Shashikala.
station, I gathered was established in December 2001, just four
months ago by the Tamil Nadu police to facilitate the women who
would feel more comfortable visiting a police station completely
run by women.
" A long
felt need," noted IP Shashikala who thought that it was the
only way to make women volunteer information to the police, not
just personal information but more general information that could
help the authorities.
a bubbling young sub inspector helped me with the police records
so far maintained. SI Janaki happily noted, however, that so far
they haven't had to deal with a single rape charge, another criminal
offence that is frequently committed in the Tamil Nadu state.
the women police unit, their prime concern is to settle disputes
immediately without proceeding towards complicated inquiries. And
if it is dowry related, they try to explain matters to the husband
and seek an assurance from him that his wife would be returned home
only on a firm pledge of fair treatment.
No, things are
not easy, especially in India where dowry related harassment is
still a serious concern. The need is for attitudinal changes mostly,
explains SI Janaki, laughingly admitting that the very thought of
marriage became repulsive to her when she sees some of the brutally
assaulted women who come seeking their help.
officers did not alter things in their favour either. It obviously
affected them too, as women. " I think that makes us feel more
sympathetic towards these victims of harassment, "said Janaki.
these women police officers are made to assist in major crime busting
operations, depending on the directives of the Tamil Nadu police.
Otherwise, their duties are mainly confined to registration and
investigation of dowry related issues, all petitions referred by
women on behalf of women, tracing stray or runaway women and children,
counselling in domestic disputes and minor offences, guarding and
escorting female prisoners etc. The 11 member unit has only two
officers but maintains a 24 hour service nevertheless.