Ahmed Sheriff Noordeen celebrates 100 years

The patriarch of the Sameer family, Ahmed Sheriff Noordeen, celebrated his 100th birthday amongst five generations at his residence in Auburnside, Dehiwala, on May 16. Noordeen's maternal grandfather was the Ceylon Moor merchant of Lanka Hardware Stores fame, Oduma Lebbe Marikar Ahmed Lebbe Marikar (OLMALM) Alim, whose estate, at the time of his demise in 1917, was reportedly worth some two million rupees. The ramifications of the 'Alim Will Case' are still referred to by budding attorneys.

Noordeen's mother, Ummu Habeeba, the Alim's eighth child, married Abdul Careem Noordeen and they had ten children, of whom Noordeen is the ninth; Sithy Fathima Wadood, the tenth, is now 99.

A birthday card, with a brilliant black-pencilled portrait of Noordeen, drawn by artist Ranjan Jeyarajah, was signed by everyone present and an e-mail greeting, from grand-nephew Fazli Sameer in Riyadh, was presented by grand-nephew Firoze Sameer. Other descendants included Farooq Sameer, Siddiq Ghouse, Mazhar Ghouse and Omar Kamil, while A.H.M. Azwer, MP was the guest of honour at the celebration.

Noordeen, the oldest living former Peterite, amidst the happy aura of food and festivity, distributed printed copies of Sura-18 Al-Kahf (The Cave) of Al-Qur'an to his guests, coherently advising them to read it, and recite Salawath for the Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace), every Friday.

La Ceylonians leader Noel indisposed

Noel Brian Ranasinghe, the veteran Sri Lankan musician and leader of the legendary La Ceylonians, has been unwell for some time and will not be able to take part in public events in the coming months.
"Until I recover, I won't be able to take part in any public events for the next few months," he told the Sunday Times. Noel, who has written countless songs, had recently been performing country songs on his banjo with the Country Revival Band at the 'Country Roads' concerts.

Christian Unity Pentecost rally

A Christian Unity Pentecost Rally will be held on Saturday June 9 from 8.30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour in Colombo.

Mannar's Bishop the Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph will give the first sermon in Tamil, Colombo's Anglican Bishop the Rt. Rev. Dhiloraj Canagasabey will give the second sermon in English and Rev. Colton Wickremeratne, founder pasture of the People’s Church will give the next sermon in Sinhala, on behalf of theEvangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka.

A lay leader of the Kithu Dana Pubuduwa (Catholic Renewal Movement) will also give a message followed by a recital by the Pubuduwa cultural troupe. Choirs of different denominations will sing in-between the messages and there will also be short skits. Book stalls and refreshment stalls will also be there. The rally is being organized by the Inter Church Fellowship (ICF) which comprises pastors and lay people from more than ten denominations which meets monthly to pursue the mission of Christian unity in diversity.

For further details please call: 2565446; 2583580; 0777 199526; 077 3613888

Avurudu for Paradis Residents

The Paradis Residents' Society under the patronage of its President, Susantha Caldera, celebrated the National New Year recently at the Lakeside Park, Paradis - 2, Millennium City, Athurugiriya. Here, some of the residents are seen lighting the traditional oil lamp, to commence the traditional games for both children and adults, to be followed by a sumptuous family lunch.

Remembering Jeronis de Soysa on his 150th death anniversary

The name of Jeronis de Soysa is overshadowed by that of his illustrious son Charles Henry de Soysa. But in a sense, even more than Charles Henry de Soysa, the story of his father, is interesting and instructive.

Jeronis de Soysa was a great philanthropist, but there is to his name this added lustre- that he himself made all the money he so liberally gave away. He started life with a fortune of less than Rs 800. He lived to build the Holy Emmanuel Church, Moratuwa expending on it over Rs 80,000 and left his son a millionaire, and inculcated in him the same spirit of patriotic generosity that was always his.

Jeronis de Soysa was called to his eternal rest at the age of 65 on May 28, 1862. The vast concourse of officials and others, who were present to pay their last respects, bore ample testimony to his popularity and munificence. Jeronis de Soysa is buried in a grave in front of the Chancel Screen at Holy Emmanuel Church Moratuwa.

As is done every year, a floral wreath is placed at the grave by the Warden Secretary during the church service. This act of remembrance will be repeated today at the 7.30 a.m. service in commemoration of the 150th death anniversary of the founder of the Church, Gate Mudaliyar Jeronis de Soysa. The sermon will be delivered by his great-great-grandson Professor Indra de Soysa, Warden, S.Thomas College Mount Lavinia. It is interesting to note that in succession five generations have honoured the founder of Holy Emmanuel Church on this day popularly called "De Soysa Day".

Dr. Obeysekere continues to work towards protecting our cultural heritage

It has been our good fortune that in times of need Sri Lanka has produced many great men in various fields. Yet it is rare to find so integrated a personality as Dr. Mirando Obeysekere. His life is simple and varied so every visit to him, every conversation with him is an enriching experience. This is the feeling of most people who met him.

Dr. Obeysekere is a scholar, poet, writer, freethinker, anthropologist and researcher of high distinction.
Born in Rassagala of Sabaragamuwa Dr. Obeysekere's parents Samuel Sykes Obeysekere and Cicey Kumarihamy Galagoda of Nilagala Walawwa - Udapottuwa insisted that he serve the depressed class of the country. Today he stands firm as one of the leading personalities serving the country and people altruistically, devoid of any thought of personal gain. Dr. Obeysekere does his best to protect and safeguard our cultural heritage and especially village life. He believes meditation is the only way for liberation.

Dr. Obeysekere says that the "Ramayana Kavya" is the only historical book which discusses the truth regarding ancient Sri Lanka, and the Lankapura Kingdom. His firm belief is that the present Sinhala nation is a combination of ancient four ethnic groups such as, the Yakkha, Naga, Deva and, Gandhabba. The ritual of worshipping "Sathara Varam" gods is a clear example of that. University Dons, foreigners and people of all walks of life seek his free advice at his village home "the Obeysekere Ashram" of Madipola, Matale.

Interested in the pre-historic Megalithic era, he has written 56 books and 100 research papers. A prolific writer, Dr. Obeysekere won the international "Silver Pen" award - U.K. His is a phenomenal achievement as a writer in Sinhala. He also launched the Patriotic Arts and Cultural Front which has a membership of over 28,000.

Now, he has organized a new movement called "Sadachara" to fight against illegal drugs, liquor and other bad elements I conclude my tribute wishing him every success in the years to come.

(Ranjani Ratwatte is Secretary, Sadachara Movement)

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