Plus - People and events

Int’l confab on impact of natural products on health and agriculture

The International Symposium on Natural Products and their Applications in Health and Agriculture (NPAHA2011), organized by the Institute of Fundamental Studies (IFS), Hantana Road, Kandy in collaboration with the Coordinating Group in Natural Product Research, AFASSA (Africa, Asia and South America) will be held at the IFS from October 3 to 8.

Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Senior Minister for International Monetary Cooperation will be the Chief Guest at the inauguration ceremony on October 3 at the IFS auditorium.

AFASSA works towards promoting South-South collaboration in natural products research with the aim of enhancing research capacity in the South and contributing to solving developing country specific problems through research in natural products.

The keynote speaker, Professor Atta-Ur-Rahman, FRS, is an internationally reputed scientist who was the former Federal Minister for Science and Technology in Pakistan and former Chairman of the Higher Education Committee of Pakistan.

The five-day symposium is funded mainly from a grant to AFASSA through the UNESCO Participation Fund and the support of a number of resource persons by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) based in the Netherlands.

Naturally occurring compounds found in plants, animals and microorganisms, both terrestrial and marine and other types of living organisms form integral components of research strategies in the pharmaceutical and the agrochemical fields. Many exciting discoveries have been made and much new knowledge acquired.

The ever advancing frontiers of science and technology in these spheres can be attributed to multidisciplinary research aimed at improving isolation and separation procedures, bioassay methods, spectroscopic techniques used to establish structures, our understanding of enzymatic processes and, biogenetic and biosynthetic pathways. The Natural Products Research group at the IFS is studying bioactive constituents found in Sri Lankan medicinal plants, popular edible fruits and microbial cultures of fungi found on common agricultural crops.

The aim of the symposium is to present an overview of developments in multidisciplinary research which have contributed significantly to applications of Natural Products in Health or Agriculture, provide opportunities for participants to become aware of work being carried out in other laboratories and thereby promote collaboration between scientists across borders, particularly South-South collaboration. Participants from 13 countries, Bangladesh, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Pakistan, Slovakia, Uganda, Uruguay, and Sri Lanka will attend the symposium.

The local Organizing Committee comprises Prof. Savitri Kumar (Chairperson, Organizing Committee), Prof. Lalith Jayasinghe (Coordinating Secretary), Prof. Vijaya Kumar (Chairman, AFASSA), Prof. C.B. Dissanayake (Director, IFS) and several other senior scientists representing various research institutes and universities in Sri Lanka.

Lankan shines in Canada

By Maxie Kariyawasam

Sri Lankan-born Praveeni Perera is that rare mixture of beauty and brains. An excellent swimmer, she represented Nepean High School in Ottawa, Canada who were the regional champions in swimming from 2001 to 2005, with the 50m & 100m freestyle, 50m breast stroke and 100m relay free style being her pet events.

Praveeni attended Ladies' College, Colombo before migrating to Canada in 1992, with her parents and studied at Brand View Public school, before moving to Nepean High School where she distinguished herself as a model student averaging 90% or more, winning the Silver Medal three years in a row.

At Carleton University she graduated with a BSc. Honours degree in biology and followed this with an MBA in International Business from Sprott School of Business of Carlton University. She has now teamed up with her mother Priyangani Pannila Perera and Louise Jackson to run a company offering training in manners in management to students and emigrants to Canada.

In March 2012 they will hold a two-day conference in Sri Lanka on Manners in Management for all would be students and emigrants bound for Canada.

Azeez birth centenary oration by Rauff Hakeem

Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem will deliver the Dr. A.M.A. Azeez birth centenary oration on the topic 'Post-colonial identity dilemma of Muslims' on Tuesday, October 4 at 4.30 p.m. at the Ghaffoor Hall, Zahira College, Colombo 10.

Dr. A.M.A. Azeez was the first Muslim civil servant, former President of Zahira College, Colombo, senator and founder of the Young Men's Muslim Association (YMMA) and the Ceylon Muslim scholarship fund.
The meeting will be chaired by the president of the Dr. A.M.A. Azeez Foundation S.H.M. Jameel and National President of the YMMA Nadvi Bahaudeen.

A reprint of the book 'West reappraised' by Dr. Azeez will be released at the occasion. The lecture is open to all.

Mary Anne David leads a Festival of Hymns

A Festival of Hymns conducted by Mary Anne David and accompanied by Neranjan de Silva will be held on Sunday, October 9 at 7.15 p.m. at St. Paul's Church, Milagiriya.

The glory, majesty and power of the great traditional hymns will be presented by joint members of Colombo's choirs. These hymns written over hundreds of years have a wide range of melodies and harmonies reinforced by lyrics which are meaningful and often poetic.

The themes range through praise, faith, salvation, penitence, assurance, consecration and prayer.
Veteran teacher of vocal music Mary Anne David has sequenced almost 30 hymns in a seamless presentation where choir and congregation will complement and combine in the singing.

Andrew David has scoured hymn books and music scores to find what could be selected from the enormous treasure trove of hymns. His one regret is that at least two dozen more could not be in the programme. The evening will be given the extra "lift" with organist Neranjan de Silva, who on his keyboards, creates a full orchestra to wind or stringed instruments.

Entrance will be by programme priced at Rs.300. The programme carries all the words and would be a ready reference at your bedside for your morning song. The net proceeds of the evening will be used by St. Paul's church for its outreach work.

Amila off for Manhunt

Amila Karunanayake has taken wing to Seoul, Korea to represent Sri Lanka at the Manhunt International pageant. He is being sponsored by Carlo Menswear, where he works as a designer. His wardrobe for the pageant was done by Imtiaz, Shane Perera and Thushara Kalubowila. Vote for Amila online at

Charmaine offered a place at Oxford for PhD

Nilushi Charmaine Wijeyasinghe who obtained a first class in Masters in Physics from the University of London and has been offered a place in Oxford to do her PhD in Physics at Worcester College.

She starts her course this month.

An old girl of Musaeus College Colombo 7, Charmaine moved to the UK in 1998 with her family.

She is the daughter of Shanthi Rajakaruna and Upendra Wijeyasinghe.

Nirmalanjali celebrates 25 years of dance

The Nirmalanjali School of dancing celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Ramakrishna mission hall recently. Inaugurated by Smt. Nirmala John in 1986, the school has since then contributed much to classical Bharatha Natyam, folk dance and other contemporary dance.

Trained under the renowned Bharatha Natyam gurus V.P Dhananjayan and Mrs. Santha Dhananjayan, Nirmala's parents, I.T. Benedict, and the late Thilakawathy Benedict, supported her in her dancing career, with more recently her husband becoming a pillar of strength. Her daughters Rekhanjali and Kalanjali John, both had their arangetram in December 2007, proving Nirmala's skill, involvement, and dedication, in teaching them the pure classical Bharatha Natyam.

The 25th anniversary of Nirmalajali's dance programme was titled 'Navarasa Virunthu'. The chief guest was I.T. Benedict, patron of Nirmalajali and Nirmala's father and the guests of honour were Kambavarity E. Jeyarai, Kumar Nadesan, Managing Director, Express Newspapers (Ceylon) Ltd, and Chairman ,Sri Lanka Press Institute, and Kalasuri Smt. Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan, (artistic consultant of Arusri theatre). '

Navarasa Virunthu' was not totally based on traditional classical Bharatha Natyam. Yet the programme started with Pushpanjali, an invocatory item which was dedicated to Lord Vinayagar.

The entire programme was choreographed by Nirmala John, with most of the items based on different themes - aspects of nature, its beauty, the importance of rain etc. The lyrics were composed by I.T. Benedict, and Kalasuri Smt. Sri.Ranganathan with Arunathy Aruran handling the semi-classical music.
The Sivasakthi Keerthanam was one of the items which revealed the spiritual aspect of Hinduism. Another item of the programme was based on five important elements of nature Panja Poothankals(five elements), which are very much needed and necessary for the entire function of the world.

The folk dance, Kavadi Sinthu of Annamali Reddiyar was enacted as it was in the 18th century. Most of the items were performed by youngsters to give them some exposure and encouragement. The Thillana another classical piece of this programme was displayed by the participants with skill, interwoven with pure Nirtha, and Nirthiya aspects of the dance, perfectly executed by the senior students of Nirmalanjali.

The highlight of the programme was an item that gave more prominence to the nine important emotions (Navarasa) of Bharatha Natyam. Each rasa portrayed a different scene; each of the dancers wore different coloured costumes to suit their rasa character, and to imply the importance of the rasas, taken from different scenes of different epics.

'Navarasa Virinthu' was a colourful dance show, which gave rein to the choreographer's imaginative creativity to expose her own ideas on the influence of nature on day- to-day life.

V awards reaching out to all citizens

"At the end of the day we were all very tired but our eyes were lit up by genuine happiness and satisfaction of a job well done. It was also the pleasure and wisdom brought by togetherness. It was the result of sharing knowledge, energy, skills and time voluntarily. It was inspiration in action."

Lankan cricketers Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara support the V awards

These were the words of Ruvini Wickramasinghe, who volunteered for an IT awareness programme in her hometown Badulla.

"To start with, the 50 children who participated in the workshop were somewhat passive but as soon as the first session was over and the group work started they became very interested and active.

It was the enthusiasm of the volunteers who were around them and who helped them in learning that inspired these children."

The concept behind V Awards is to honour such individuals who make extraordinary contributions to society and it is hoped to identify role models and champions who can inspire a nation to volunteer for social causes.

V Awards is open to all Sri Lankan citizens, over 18 who are nominated by someone who knows them and the work they do. There are standard forms for nominations that can be found on the V Awards website: In addition Sri Lankan citizens interested in nominating someone can pick up the forms from the offices of partner organizations around the country.

For more information please call the Hotline: 0716556556 V Awards [Volunteer Awards] is an initiative by the IYV+10 National Steering Committee in collaboration with News 1st. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers [IYV+10]. The deadline for receiving applications for the V Awards is October 3.

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