People and events

Don’t miss ‘Sanctus Nocte’, a different take on carols

December brings about the feeling of Christmas festivity You see every building and home decorated beautifully, people on the roads are rushing around trying to get everything organised, and you hear Christmas Carols where ever you go... but you’ve probably never heard them done like this before.
Salvage in collaboration with The Warehouse Project present “Sanctus Nocte”, which translated from Latin means “O Holy Night”.

“Salvage” are an alternative rock band consisting of Chrisantha de Silva (TNL Onstage winner – Solo Category 2007), James Mather (TNL Onstage Winner – Band Category 2005), Greg Pallegama (TNL Onstage Finalist – Band Category 2008), Justice Gnanamuttu and Sajana Bupathi. Having performed together for just over two years at various concerts around Colombo and on national television, this is the band’s first solo concert featuring the vocal talents of Shanelle Fernando, Mihindu of Nemesis fame and Sankha B, as well as vocal guests Thushani Jayawardena who will also be making an appearance on Violin.

Part of the proceeds from the concert will be donated to the “EAT Project” at The Warehouse Project. EAT provides a fully stocked kitchen where the Maradana community personally participates and contributes towards serving one another with one meal a day. This enables the community to have a hand in the development of their own community. The EAT initiative was launched in February 2010 providing a wholesome meal for 25 less fortunate individuals of the community on a daily basis. The recipients are increased every three months and by the start of 2011 EAT estimates of feeding 100 + residents on a daily basis.

‘Sanctus Nocte’ will be held on December 29 at The Warehouse Project from 7.30p.m. onwards. Tickets are priced at Rs. 500 and are on sale now. For more details contact 0775784856

Thidora theatre bags four awards at ESCO 2010

Thidora theatre won four main awards at the "Very Special Peace Art Festival-ESCO 2010" held recently at Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. The event was organised by ESCO Rehab Sri Lanka with the participation of more than 700 disabled youth from all over the country including Jaffna, Manner, Batticaloa and Tangalle.

The audience was enthralled by Thidora theatre performers staging a hybrid dancing with segments from low-country dancing and even Western dancing, under the supervision of the acclaimed choreographers Ramani Damayanthi and Karunadasa Olaboduwa.

They received fallowing awards at Esco 2010. Thilina Siriwardane, The Best Solo Dancer - under 18 MR award Shamal Jayasuriya, The Best Solo Dancer- over 18 MR award Sachini Ruwanthika,The Best Solo Dancer - over 18 deaf award and the Best Drama award with 9 certificates while Thilina Siriwardane and Sachini Ruwanthika received 1st prize at the national festival on the world disabled day 2010, organised by the Saviya Development Foundation and the Ministry of Social Services of Sri Lanka. More details of Thidora can be obtained at their website on

Islamic scholar here on lecture tour

Dr. Waffie Mohammed, a leading Islamic scholar from Trinidad and Tobago, is visiting Sri Lanka on a lecture tour at the invitation of the Centre for Islamic Studies, Wellawatte.

He will deliver a public lecture on 'Purpose of Life' at the CIS auditorium today at 10.30 a.m. Dr. Mohammed is the principal and director at the Markaz al-Ihsaan Institute of Islamic Theology in the Caribbean. He has authored several books on Islam and contemporary social issues.

Choir of the Visually Handicapped Singers spreads good cheer

As has been the tradition during the past three decades in the season of goodwill, this year too the Choir of the Visually Handicapped Singers continues to perform four-part singing and their repertoire includes English, Sinhala, and Tamil carols interspersed with German and Swedish verses. The programme could be varied from 20 to 40 minutes as required.

The choir may be remunerated on a reasonable basis by mutual agreement bearing in mind the courses of regular practices, transport, appropriate attire and refreshments that have to be incurred as well as lending a hand to a group of talented musicians and singers during the festive season.

The choir has performed in several leading hotels and institutions in Colombo as well as in Negombo, Seeduwa, Katunayake and Pamunugama. For prior bookings please contact Mr. Rienzie Benedict on 2437708 or 2305256 on any working day between 9 a.m. and 4.30 p.m.

AusAID supports World Vision's Mental Health initiative in the North

World Vision Lanka recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Health and the College of Psychiatrists to improve mental health in the Northern Province through a Rs. 50-million Australian-funded project.

Australia, through its aid agency, AusAID, will fund World Vision to assist the Ministry in the implementation of the community-based components of the National Mental Health Policy through the 'Reconciliation Through Integration of Mental Health in Northern Districts' (REMIND) project in Sri Lanka.

Addressing the MOU signing ceremony, Australia's High Commissioner Kathy Klugman said, "Mental Health concerns are clearly a pressing need in the north. We are happy to be part of this important initiative and to partner the Ministry of Health and World Vision in support of the Government's mental health programmes in the north".

The program will fund the deployment of 40 community support officers and 10 community support centres to facilitate increased community access to mental health services.

The Ministry of Health (MOH), Health Services (Northern Provincial Council), Medical Office of Mental Health (MOMH), College of Psychiatrists (COP) will be key partners in the implementation of the project.
"The project will incorporate best practices and lessons learnt from a similar initiative previously funded by World Vision in the Southern Province. It will assist the Government to quickly expand mental health services in the north to respond to needs in the province," Health Ministry Additional Secretary Dr Palitha Mahipala said.

World Vision Lanka National Director Suresh Bartlett said: "Protecting and responding to the mental health needs and wellbeing of communities is essential for meaningful recovery from conflict and displacement,"

World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. The organisation serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender and has been in Sri Lanka since 1977 and has implemented programmes worth more than Rs. 40 billion in Sri Lanka.

Christmas: Magic or Mystery?

Christmas is being celebrated again around the world with much glitter and extravagance, with the commercialization of Christmas taking it away from its historical and religious significance. It ushers the season in with the promise of magic and wonder, with an elusive Santa Claus bringing gifts and surprises.

An advertisement reads: “Imagine this is your child as she opens a personalized letter from Santa Claus. Her eyes grow wide when she sees the authentic ‘North Pole’ postmark. Her jaw drops when she touches the heavy wax stamp. Her face lights up when she sees the special Christmas Wish List that Santa wants her to fill out and send back to the North Pole. This authentic Santa Letter will make the best Christmas ever! “

However, the joy and merriment of these moments are fleeting. While we make the season memorable for our families, we must also be aware that the dubious promises of magic obscure the reality of Christmas, which is now motivated by more than the mere magic of it.
Last year's Christmas statistics in the UK, for instance, shows:

  • Cooking 10 million turkeys worth an estimated £400 million
  • Consuming 25 million Christmas puddings
  • Drinking around 250 million pints of beer and 35 million bottles of wine
  • Putting up 7.5 million Christmas trees worth an estimated £245 million
  • Writing 1.7 billion Christmas cards
  • The UK spending around £20bn on Christmas with about £1.6bn going on food and drink

For those disillusioned with the magic the season promises, there is also good news - it is wrapped in the Mystery of Christmas.

Unwrapping the mystery of Christmas may not be easy for those with a mind which balks at anything without a rational explanation. There is empirical knowledge and knowledge beyond our senses – revelation knowledge. The real value of Christmas can be opened to us as we are open to receiving the revelation of the Christ of Christmas. The Bible calls the birth of Christ a mystery, when it states, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh…” (1 Timothy 3:16).

To understand Christmas therefore one needs to look beyond the magic and focus on the mystery – which is the true wonder and joy of Christmas. It is not a mystery in the sense of being incomprehensible or ‘mystical’ but is something of value that is hidden until sought out by the diligent seeker. As the saying goes, “God hides things for us and not so much from us.” It is just like the Christmas present, which is hidden from the child until he finds it in the morning and unwraps it with awe and wonder.

Mystery revealed in Creation

First, God reveals himself through His creation, which is evident and visible to all. The Psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 24:1). The most vivid revelation of God’s character is in creation, which brings awe and wonder as we consider His greatness, wisdom and power.

Mystery revealed through History

Second, God reveals himself through history. The Apostle Paul says that “ when the time had fully come, God sent his Son” (Galatians 4:4). God worked out His plan in history, revealing through more than a hundred prophetic messages over thousands of years that the Messiah would come.

The promised Saviour was not therefore sent on a hurriedly drawn up plan, but God enacted it through history using various settings and actors. God himself was Scriptwriter and Director – and in the climax of the drama, chose a humble Bethlehem manger for the arrival of His Son, which was the first Christmas, sans today’s glitter in an ordinary setting. The drama of the Nativity did not begin in Bethlehem; it was the final episode in the unfolding of the Mystery of the Incarnation.

Third, God has revealed Himself in Christmas, through the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Mystery of Christmas is primarily the ‘Virgin Birth of Christ’, where the human impossibility becomes the defining and fundamental truth of the Christian faith. This enabled the sinless Son of God to enter humanity without compromise to His purity and holiness, and offer himself as the acceptable sacrifice for the sins of humanity.

The Virgin Birth of Christ makes it possible for the divine to incarnate humanity and humanity to partake of the divine nature. Christ is the Gift of God unwrapped as the mystery of God; and therefore Christianity then is not a mere comprehension of a set of teachings, nor is it a quest of understanding. It is divine life experienced by an action of faith.

The Christmas journey to Bethlehem is therefore not a voyage of discovery, neither is it a pilgrimage or a mission of piety. It must be a walk of faith led by revelation from God. Both the poor shepherds and rich wise men had to depend on divine revelation to lead them to Bethlehem.

Our efforts to define God rationally may result in creating a god as limited as we ourselves are; and therefore God has not put himself on trial to prove Himself. We must by faith unwrap the Mystery of Christmas in Jesus Christ.

May the unfolding of this mystery bring you to relationship with the divine and transcend all that the Magic of Christmas could offer.

Rev. Michael Dissanayeke.

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