Jaffna to beat to the rhythm of folk artistes

By Dhananjani Silva

The traditional folk artistes from the northern region of Sri Lanka are today an enthusiastic group making preparations for that grand comeback after almost three decades of oblivion. Jaffna Music Festival 2011 scheduled to be held from March 25-27 in the city of Jaffna will present a wonderful opportunity for folk artists from the Jaffna peninsula, who could not perform due to the environment that prevailed there during the war with the LTTE, to showcase their skills.

A news conference announcing the festival. Pic by Sanka Vidanagama

The festival will take place amidst a folk village camp setting which is built surrounding the main stage, explained the coordinator Jaffna Music Festival Ramesh De Saram. The artists will lead simultaneous performances from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. followed by a daily main stage act from 4.p.m to 10 p.m. each day.

Colourful performances from the Jaffna Peninsula such as Kappat Paatu, Papiravaham, Chinthunadai Koothu, Villu Paattu, other forms of dance varieties representing Sri Lankan traditional arts such as famous mask dances, Kohombakankariya, Thovil, Muslim group performances, puppetry, stick dances, estate sector performances will also spice up the music festival, he added. International folk music groups from Norway, India, Palestine, Nepal, and South Africa will also be featured. A series of village performances have also been lined up in February leading up to the final festival in March.

There will be open forum workshops with discussions on sound engineering, said artistic director Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan. Preserving our local musical heritage apart, the event promotes regional music cooperation and exchange of knowledge on folk arts, she added.

The Jaffna Music Festival is organised as a sister event of the Galle Music Festival held in 2009 and the event will alternate between Galle and Jaffna. It is supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Sewalanka Foundation and Aru Sri Art Theatre. Concerts Norway are implementing partners while Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, the main media sponsors will broadcast three performances island wide.

The event is open to the public free of charge. More details can be obtained via

Once again it’s time for the Gratiaen

Sri Lanka’s most important literary award in English, the Gratiaen Prize, supported by Standard Chartered Bank, will soon once again help to transform the future of Sri Lankan authors. The award event, to be held on May 21, annually recognizes one Sri Lankan writer for his or her achievement.
Now on its 18th year, the Gratiaen Prize rewards the best writing in English of the year 2010.

The three judges selected each year by the Gratiaen Trust make their choice from an increasing number of entries – in the past few years over 50 – submitted by authors and publishers. The entries include fiction, poetry, drama and literary memoir, either published during the last year or presented in manuscript form. Initially a short-list of five is chosen, and the winner is announced at the Gratiaen Prize award event. The value of the prize is Sri Lankan Rs 200,000.

Standard Chartered’s Chief Executive, Anirvan Ghosh-Dastidar, on the Bank’s support of the awards, said “The Gratiaen Prize recognizes the best work by a Sri Lankan author and Standard Chartered has been involved since its beginning. We are delighted to support the award with literary excellence as its sole focus”.

The Gratiaen Prize is named in memory of Doris Gratiaen, Michael Ondaatje’s mother. Ondaatje, a joint-winner of the prestigious Booker Prize in 1992 for his novel The English Patient, also a successful film, instituted the award in the same year with the Booker prize money. Since then it has been a major event in the island’s literary calendar. Sri Lankan writers resident in the country are eligible to vie for the accolade, and over the years recipients have included both first-time and well-known authors.

EWC invites writers for Channels issue

The English Writers Co-operative (EWC) is conducting its Short Story and Poetry Competition 2011 and invites original, unpublished, creative writing in English by Sri Lankan writers to be included in the 2011 issue of Channels Vol. 17.
The three best stories/poems received will be awarded prizes.
Short Stories – Maximum - 2,500 words
Poetry – Maximum - 30 lines
Translations will not accepted.
The format is as follows:

  • Manuscripts typed on A4 paper – one side only; font size 12; pages should be numbered.
  • Name, address, telephone/email details of the author should be set down at the beginning and the end of each story, and on each page of poetry.
  • Submissions will NOT be returned to authors.
  • Only paper copies will be accepted and should be sent by Registered Post to
    Mrs Nanda Wanasundera
    Flat 4, 96/1 Fifth Lane
    Colombo 3
  • Deadline: Tuesday, March 15, 2011
  • Only entries which reach an acceptable standard will be published.
  • The decision of the Editorial Board will be final.
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