21st February 1999
This week we have an interesting contribution from one of our young readers on Sri Pada or Adam's Peak. I wonder how many of you have climed this holy mountain and seen the spectacular sunrise. Those who have will, no doubt, agree that it is a memorable experience.
I often think that sometimes we long to travel and experience the wonders of foreign lands, little realising the wonders we have in our island. So do make a list of the interesting places that you can visit in our country.
If you have visited famous places write in and tell us your experiences.
Until next week
Long, long ago, there was a very strong man called Bulatha. He was in the service of a king who ruled at Aluthnuwara.
Bulatha had two duties in the king's service. One was to go a long distance over a steep mountain and milk a cow in a little village called Kiripattiya and the other was to prepare thirty Chews of betel everyday. While doing these jobs very loyally, he secretly made a pilgrim path of two thousand stone steps on the steep mountain slope.
He also secretly built a large tank to help the farmers around Aluthnuwara. His deeds brought him great merit.
When the king heard about Bulatha's work he was very pleased and met Bulatha at the tank. "You have served the people more than I have," the king said, "you have built that pilgrim path and this large tank for the farmers. These deeds have brought yu great merit. May I have this merit with you?
"It will be a great honour to me to share my merit with you, O king, " replied Bulatha. "But I have one request to make. When I die, I wish to be cremated on the bund of this tank."
The king promised to grant Bulatha his request.
After many years, when Bulatha died, his body was taken to the bund of the tank and was cremated there. A heavy rain that followed washed the ashes of his body down into the tank. Out of the ashes sprang the Olu and the Nelum.
Today this tank which is full of lotuses and lilies is known as Soraborawewa and the steep mountain is known as Galpadihela.
Diana Vinci Weerasekara
Adam's Peak is a very important place of worship for the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. This place is well known as "Sri Pada'' and most Europeans call it Adam's Peak. The meaning of Sri Pada is the holy foot-print of Lord Buddha. Adam's Peak also known as "Samanala Kanda'', is situated in the Central Province.
It is believed that when Lord Buddha visited Sri Lanka a "Deva'' or a God by the name of "Sumana Saman'' requested Lord Buddha to leave a print of his foot on the top of "Samanala Kanda.'' Lord Buddha complied with the request and left the impression as requested.
Today thousands of Buddhist pilgrims climb the hill to pay homage and also many tourists of other faiths visit this place annually. It is a very tiring journey, a very long walk across tea estates to reach the summit. Almost all the pilgrims and visitors start the climb during the night. Many Christians believe that this is the abode of "Adam'', the first man created by their God. That is why they call the mountain "Adam's Peak."
On the summit there is a building which houses the foot-print. The early morning sunrise is a magnificent sight from the summit. It can be seen very brilliantly on sunny days. The pilgrims and visitors enjoy this sight.
The trip to Sri Pada though tiring, can also be a very enjoyable one. The path leads through tea estates and semi-jungle. There are varieties of orchids and other flowers growing wild. The pilgrims and visitors can cherish pleasant memories for many years after the experience.
Ranil Harsha Jawawardana
Every morning you brought a smile
I am a girl. My name is Ayesha Madumali. I like my name. I live in Palagahawanguwa. I am a pupil of T/Palugahawanguwa Vidyalaya. I study in year 2. I like English and Maths very much. My class teacher is Miss Padmini. She is very good and kind to us. I love her very much.
I am seven years old. I am slim and tall. My mother is a midwife and father is a shopkeeper. I love my parents. I have a sister who is younger than me. My hobby is reading books. I love watching T.V.
I have many friends. We all play together. They come to my home and I also go to theirs.
My school is Holy Cross Convent. It is situated in the Gampaha district. It is a big school in the Western Province. There are many students in my school. The principal of my school is sister Nelli Helen. We have many classes. Our classrooms are neat and tidy. We play games and go out on picnics. We learn good manners. In our school we have a library, a play ground and a laboratory. So we can play and study. I love my school very much.
Path to higher education
By Uncle D.C. R
From secondary education it is logical that we see how higher education developed in Sri Lanka.
The founding of the Ceylon Medical School in 1870 marks the beginning of university education in our country. Dr James Loos, the Colonial Surgeon of the Northern Province drew the attention of the government to the depopulation of the Wanni and the need to provide medical education throughout the island. His suggestion of starting an elementary school to give a practical course in Medicine, Surgery & Midwifery and instructions in Anatomy, Physiology and Materia Medica dispensing was accepted and the Ceylon Medical School was opened by Governor Sir Hercules Robinson on June 1, 1870. Dr Loos was appointed principal. By 1880 the School was raised to the status of a College and in 1888 Licentiates of Medicine & Surgery (LMS) of the College were recognized by the General Medical Council of Great Britain. In May 1882 women students were admitted for the first time.
Two stamps (05 cts & 45 cts) depicting an oil lamp, the traditional symbol of learning & the caduceus, (symbol of the medical profession) were issued on September 1, 1970 to commemorate its centenary.
The need for a national university was highlighted publicly in 1906 when a number of public spirited citizens led by Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam formed the Ceylon University Association. The result was the setting up of the Ceylon University College on January 21, 1921, affiliated to the University of London. The first full fledged university (University of Ceylon) was established in 1942 by merging the Medical and University Colleges. Sessions started on July 1. Ivor Jennings (later Sir Ivor), an Englishman who was Professor of Law at the London School of Economics and had come over to Ceylon in 1940 as Principal of the University College was appointed as Vice Chancellor. He was also the principal constitutional advisor to the Government and contributed towards the drafting of the first constitution of Independent Ceylon.
With the decision to establish a residential university, the University of Ceylon moved to Peradeniya in 1955 and Colombo remained a branch up to 1967 when it was established as the University of Colombo. Sir Ivor continued as Vice Chancellor until 1955 when he left to accept the post of Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. He was succeeded by Sir Nicholas Attygalle (1894-1970), eminent gynaecologist, university professor & Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. Stamps have been issued recognizing the service of both these educationists.
The golden jubilee of university education in Sri Lanka was commemorated by the issue of two stamps-one (Re 1) on December 22, 1992 depicting the University logo, two graduates & a Peradeniya campus building, and the other, also a Re 1 stamp, was issued on March 23, 1993 featuring the logo and a science faculty building in the Colombo campus.
The expansion of higher education in Sri Lanka can be seen from the fact that today there are ten Universities, one Open University and 11 Institutes, five of which offer post-graduate courses. The universities are Colombo, Jaffna, Kelaniya, Moratuwa, Peradeniya, Raja Rata, Ruhuna, Sabaragamuwa, Sri Jayawardenapura and the Buddhist & Pali University.
The University Grants Commission established by University Act No 16 of 1978 oversees the universities which are autonomous institutions.
Rodents or gnawing animals are the largest, and in many ways the most successful group of animals. This could result from their high birth-rate, small size and, in most cases, nocturnal habits. The large incisor teeth work like curved chisels for nibbling their food.
Their varied diet consists of seeds, fruit, buds, bark, leaves, grasses and people's food.
Rodents are adapted to all kinds of surroundings, on or below ground, in trees, in snow and in deserts.
Squirrels are adapted to tree life. They leap among the branches, using their sharp claws for climbing and their long tails for balancing. They eat cone seeds, acorns, beech nuts, buds, bark and occasionally young birds.
Some tree squirrels have folds of skin between their legs, which help them to glide as they leap from branch to branch. There are also ground squirrels, such as chipmunks.
The marmot and the gopher, or prairie dog, are burrowers which live in colonies. Gophers live on open plains and marmots live in mountains.
The Norway lemming also lives in mountains. It is well known for its remarkable migration. Occasionally, the population builds up and hordes of lemmings move down from the mountains, sometimes even falling into rivers or the sea on their way, and drowning.
This is one of nature's ways of controlling the numbers. Such rises and falls in the population also occur among other rodents, such as voles. Birds of prey also help to control numbers.
Voles, rats and mice
Voles have small ears, blunt faces and short tails. The family includes the American muskrat, which is bred for its fur.
Rats and mice have large ears, pointed faces and long tails. They have been closely associated with humans since people first began to farm. Since then, rats and mice have lived with man, causing enormous damage to crops and property, and have spread diseases such as typhus and the bubonic plague .
They live in houses, farm buildings and anywhere else that is convenient for them. They have spread all over the world, travelling with man in his ships and caravans.
One of the smallest mice is the little harvest mouse, which builds nests among the cornstalks and tall grasses. It uses its tail for support as it climbs.
Gerbils and jerboas are desert mice. A jerboa hops about like a tiny kangaroo.
The chinchilla is a rodent which is valuable for its fur. It lives in the Andes mountains of South America, where it is rare but protected.
The coypu, another animal valued for its fur, also comes from South America, but is kept on fur farms in many other countries. Like the mink, many coypu have escaped and now live wild.
Porcupines, like hedgehogs, are protected by sharp quills, which are a kind of hardened hair. The Old World porcupines are ground burrowers, but those of the new World climb trees.
Cavies are the wild relations of the guinea pigs. People used to eat them, but now they are often kept as pets.
Dormice climb trees and build nests above the ground. They are well known for their habit of hibernating in winter. Their name comes from the French dormir, meaning "to sleep".
Beavers are waterside rodents. They have webbed feet and flat tails to help them to swim.
They build their home, or lodge, by using their strong teeth to cut down trees. They build a dam across a stream, forming a lake in which the lodge is built of branches and mud. It has an underwater entrance for safety.
Although not members of the rodent family, rabbits and hares are also gnawing mammals. The rabbit originated in southern Europe, and has spread far and wide, to Britain and Australia, where it was introduced by man.
At first it was carefully protected, in areas called warrens, as a valuable fur and food animal. But it is adaptable, and eventually spread to become a serious pest. A virus disease, called myxomatosis, was released in Europe and Australia. It spread rapidly and nearly wiped the rabbits out. But they are now recovering, and may return to their former numbers.
Rabbits live in colonies below ground. Their babies are born there, blind and naked.
Hares, which are larger, live above ground and are usually solitary. They rely on speed to escape from danger. The babies, or leverets, can run about soon after they are born. Unlike rabbits, which live close to the cover of hedgerows and woodlands, hares prefer open country, even mountainsides.
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