By Mirudhula Thambiah Sri Lankans joined in joy to celebrate Avurudu this year, with a highlight being a large Divi Neguma fair in Battaramulla at which young people from the North, singing and sharing their joy with visitors, visited Colombo for the first time after decades of war to sell their products. It was one [...]


Lankans join hands across the nation to celebrate Avurudu


By Mirudhula Thambiah

Sri Lankans joined in joy to celebrate Avurudu this year, with a highlight being a large Divi Neguma fair in Battaramulla at which young people from the North, singing and sharing their joy with visitors, visited Colombo for the first time after decades of war to sell their products.

It was one of 407 Divi Neguma Avurudu fairs organised across the country by the Ministry of Economic Development.  At more than 120 stalls set up near the Diyawanna Oya in Kotte, the producers from the North and East sold traditional items such as kotta kelengu, palmyra products, travelling bags, undu flour and dried fish, while sellers from other part of the island had rice flour, handloom textiles and other goods on offer to the bustling crowds.

Last minute shopping for loved ones before heading home to celebrate the dawn of the New Year. Pic by M.D. Nissanka

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is celebrating the National Festival at Carlton Residence in Tangalle today, having arrived there yesterday. Tomorrow he will take part in the lighting of the oil lamp at the Kiriwera in Kataragama
A multitude of celebration were scheduled across the island to lift the spirits.

The Divi Neguma Avurudu fairs are expected to bring in Rs.3 million of income and by last Thursday had already garnered Rs.2.5 million, the Ministry of Economic Development said.

The ministry organised the fairs with the help of 19 state organisations including the Sri Lanka Samurdhi Authority, Agrarian Development Department, Lak Sathosa, Second Community Development and Livelihood Improvement Project and the Co-operative Development Department.

The fairs, which began on April 5, continued until Friday. Some 12,000 rural producers displayed their wares to the public at stalls selling items such as textiles, fresh vegetables, fruits, sweets, rice, coconuts, powdered milk, dry rations, spices, plants, ornamental fish, products of small industrialists and meat products.

On Tuesday, New Year games will be held in Mullaitivu District. A two-day Divi Neguma fair was inaugurated by Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on April 6, and a special Avurudu celebration organised by the divisional Army brigade in Mullaitivu ended yesterday after four days of festivities.

Similar celebrations took place in Kilinochchi, said District Secretary Rupavathy Ketheesawaranathan. “We have a tradition of practising Kai Vishedam (Ganu Denu) when we return to office from the New Year holidays,” Ms. Ketheesawaranathan said. Gifts of money would be given to all the workers at the Secretariat.

The Ministry of Cultural and Arts will hold an Avurudu Uthsavaya on Wednesday at the Jana Kala Kendraya in Battaramulla and the function will be headed by Culture and Arts Minister T.B Ekanayake. Traditional food items, New Year games, competitions, avurudu raban, and an avurudu kumari competition will be highlights.

Avurudu celebrations have been scheduled by the different forces. The Police will have their traditional breakfast on Tuesday.
The Army will celebrate the New Year at all camps. “We have to celebrate avurudu at Army camps for those who come from villages and will not be in a position to get home,” said army spokesman, Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya.

The National Hospital has made preparations to treat patients who come with fire-cracker injuries and other avurudu accidents.
“We have 24-hour services to treat people who are subjected to such injuries,” the NHSL spokesperson Pushpa De Zoysa said.
Sri Lanka Coast Guards will deploy lifeguards on 24-hour watch at major bathing spots such as Galle Face, Wellawatte, Mout Lavinia, Panadura, Balapitiya Mirissa, Polhena and Nilaveli to avert drowning accidents.

New Year Messages

President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Verdant and free and independent country safeguards New Year happiness

True happiness of New Year is safeguarded by a verdant and free and independent country. The sacrifices we have made to build a prosperous and disciplined country offers us great consolation. The enthusiasm currently shown by the people to fulfil New Year customs and traditions as never before is a cause of pride and happiness to us all.

“Family bonds built up due to New Year customs and traditions helped to further strengthen Sri Lankan society. Therefore we should all follow age old New Year customs and traditions and bestow out treasured heritage to the future generation. It is through this that the nation’s existence will get stabilized.”

Ranil Wickremesinghe, Opposition Leader

A bright future for Sri Lanka through peace and not division
”Customs and traditions of the New Year reflect the importance of sharing happiness and living in harmony. They also teach us to be grateful towards nature and all other living beings.

“Unfortunately, there is a current social trend to disregard all these good morals and spread hatred among people. The achievement of a bright future for this country can only be done through peace and not division. Understanding this, we should all be determined to spread peace.

Kandiah Neelakandan, President- All Ceylon Hindu Congress

A return to normalcy for a peaceful life on one’s own soil

”The Tamil people welcome this New Year with various expectations and hopes. We submit at the feet of His Almighty Sivakamiambal Samedha Shri Nadarajaperuman our prayer that all the sufferings of our people should disappear and prosperity should usher in the New Year. For more than three decades, our brothers and sisters have not only suffered hardships and difficulties, but also lost lives and properties and remain destitute. Their expectation is that normalcy should be restored again, so that they can again peacefully live on their own soil. We pray that these dreams should be fulfilled at least this New Year which dawns this weekend.

John Rankin, British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka

A time for peaceful coexistence within society

I like to extend my warmest wishes to the people of Sri Lanka for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. This traditional New Year celebrated together is a long standing bond between the Sinhala and Tamil communities in Sri Lanka. This is a time that has importance of peace and coexistence in society. I wish you all a happy New Year!

Extra buses from today

Main bus stand in the Pettah: Commuters waiting to head home to Kandy on Friday. Pic by Indika Handuwala

Sixty extra buses will be plying major routes from tomorrow until Saturday for people returning to Colombo after the Avurudu holiday.

In addition to the 12 buses operating daily on the Southern Expressway an additional 13 buses will be deployed this week.
“Special bus services will be operating for those who will be traveling to railway stations from main cities such as Matara, Hambantota. Some 25 intercity bus services will be operating,” Sri Lanka Transport Board Deputy Chairman L. A. Wimalaratne said.

He said passengers should make a point to obtain tickets; conductors were obliged to issue tickets. The SLTB has special hotline services for the passengers to lodge complaints.

Special train services have been operating from April 5 and will continue until Wednesday from Colombo and outstation destinations such Galle, Matara, Badulla and Vavuniya.

Liquor shops will remain closed today.

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