Kala Korner - by Dee Cee

Tamil proverbs in Sinhala
For many years, Professor Sunil Ariyaratne has been doing his bit to forge a cultural relationship between the Sinhala and Tamil people. His latest effort is a unique publication - 'One thousand Tamil proverbs in Sinhala'. What an achievement!

Sunil has catalogued the one thousand proverbs under 125 titles and given the original both in Tamil and Sinhala followed by a Sinhala version of each proverb. Pointing out that this is the first time that an effort has been made to present such a large number of Tamil proverbs in Sinhala, Sunil confesses that he had tremendous satisfaction in compiling them. He is quite sure that before his effort, not even ten Tamil proverbs had been put into Sinhala. The few that he had noticed were in grammar books just to indicate that there were Tamil proverbs too.

Sunil obviously found his task of collecting Tamil proverbs quite easy since there had been Tamil publications dating back to the 19th century. A Christian missionary, Fr. P. Percival who had come to Chennai (Madras) in 1826 had published a collection of 1900 Tamil proverbs in 1842. By 1869 he had collected over 5000 proverbs and along with another 5000 gifted by another missionary, Fr. Friar, had a collection of 10,000. He had published 6,000 of them. Fr. Percival had later come to Sri Lanka and had translated the Bible into Tamil with the well-known Tamil Pundit Arumuganavalar.

Another scholar who published a collection of Tamil proverbs (1897) was Rev. Herman Jansen who had commented that the Tamil people are not happy unless they are able to spice their conversation with a proverb.

Sunil hopes that a closer cultural relationship between the Sinhala and Tamil people will result in a cross fertilization of ideas and experiences.

Recognition for Sunil's efforts

Sunil has pioneered several activities to build up a close relationship between the two communities. It was Sunil who took the initiative in making a Sinhala film on the subject of Sinhala-Tamil harmony. Sarungale (The Kite) made in 1979 had, as its backdrop, the communal violence of the mid-1950s. The lead role played by veteran actor Gamini Fonseka is yet talked about. It was Sunil who composed the popular song, 'Meena nuwan yugin balan Meena', also on the same theme.

Sunil has authored many books on Tamil literature and his hard work has been recognized by several organizations. The Ministry of Hindu Cultural Affairs conferred on him the title 'Thamil Mani' (The Tamil Gem) and the Young Men's Hindu Association bestowed on him the title 'Thamil Mamani' (The Tamil Bell). He is also the only Sinhala writer to be honoured by the Tamil literary panel of the Arts Council for his efforts to propagate Tamil literature throughout Sri Lanka, at a ceremony held at the Jaffna University. Of the eight scholars honoured for the services rendered to uplift Tamil literature, Sunil was the only Sinhalese author.

Paying tribute
The latest issue of 'Abhinaya', the journal of the Sinhala Drama Panel of the Arts Council pays tribute to two prominent personalities in Sinhala theatre - dramatist Bandula Jayawardena and actress Iranganie Serasinghe.

Chairman of the Panel, Parakrama Niriella introduces Bandula as the dramatist who has devoted a better part of his life towards the progress of Sinhala theatre. "His contribution has been enormous. In addition to his creative efforts, for many years he has served in the Arts Council and the Sinhala Drama Panel. The voluntary service he has rendered in the cause of Sinhala theatre is immense,' he says.

Describing Iranganie Serasinghe as the first Sri Lankan actress who brought life into the characters she played both in the Sinhala and English theatre, Niriella says that quite apart from her distinguished performances in cinema and television, she should be recognized as the pioneer stage actress who gave a new dimension to female characters.

Back to Top  Back to Plus  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.