30th May 1999
Today you would have put up the lanterns you made and everyone must be admiring them. Some of you would have also gone to the temple too. With lots of nice lanterns and big kuduwas to see, you must be very busy.
But do be aware when you are walking the streets watching the lights and beautiful pandals to be with your parents or elders, for with crowds around you can get lost.
If you are lighting pahanas do be careful. While carrying them around do be watchful of the next person. Don't burn anybody.
Do draw or write what you saw or did on Vesak day.
Until next time
Last week we went on a trip to Trincomalee. This is the first time we went there. Our journey started at 6 a.m. On the way we had our lunch at Habarana. We reached Kinniya to see the "Hot water wells". But we were late and we didn't see them. Then we proceeded to "Koneswaram" temple in the Fort and worshipped there. After the tea break we went to the beach.
At that time there were many people on the beach. That night we stayed in the Railway Quarters. The next day we went to the "Kali" temple and travelled by train to Chinabay. It was very interesting because this is the first time I went by train. We saw the Prima and Cement Factories. After a good lunch we visited the Children's Park. The last day on our way to Karaitivu we visited Kinniya and had a bath in the hot wells. Then we had our lunch by the "Parakrama Samudra" about 4.30 p.m. We reached our village late. It was a useful and interesting trip.
My birth this time,
Sent by: Thamali Jayasinghe
Last week I visited one of my mother's friend's homes with her. When we were coming home in the bus there was an old man, seated. My mother was standing with a big bag and the man asked if he could keep the bag. After a while he gave the seat to my mother. Since I was standing he started to talk to me.
He asked me where I was studying and what are the subjects that I was doing in school. When I told him he said he knew our principal. He told me he has one son and one daughter in Australia in University. His son had got "A" for English and now he's doing Bio-Science in Australia. He told me how important English is. He said that to learn English is to speak and wanted me to speak with him. While I was listening to him I thought of my grandfather. He was so much like this man. I don't know his name but I did take his advice on improving my English. I thanked him. When I got off the bus with my mother and told her everything, she was happy that I learnt something from that kind man. So I thought I should write about this wonderful person.
Sent by: Kaushalya Perera,
Trees are very useful to man and animal. They give us fresh air to breath. And fresh vegetables and fruits to eat. Trees give people lots of things to make medicine.
Trees give us lots of beautiful scented flowers like temple flowers to make our gardens and homes beautiful. People feel happy when they see lots of beautiful flowers. Trees are a great help to people. People cut lots of trees and make houses and furniture. When people cut lots of trees we don't get rain. And if we won't get rain we don't have any water. When the people won't get water they will die.
If there are no trees the whole world would be like a desert. Then there would be no people, no animals and no trees.
If we don't want to let this happen we have to protect trees. We could plant little trees in our gardens. It would take only an hour or two to cut a big tree but they would take many years to grow. So we must learn to plant trees. Then there would be lots of beautiful forests in the world. And the whole world will be a very beautiful place to live in.
I wish for you dear mother, every happiness, blessings and long life. I have to thank you dear mother from the very bottom of my heart for all the services you have rendered to me in the past and you are rendering now to me. They will not be erased from my memory. Just as you are kind and loving always to me, I also will love, praise and honour you all the days of my life.
Sent by: Nadeesha Dilini
It has been customary to depict Buddhist places of worship or scenes from rock temples in Sri Lanka in Vesak stamps. However, in a few instances, internationally famous Buddhist temples have been featured in our Vesak stamps. In 1978, for example, rock carvings from the renowned temple of Borobudur were featured.
Borobudur situated in Central Java is one of the foremost Buddhist monuments in the world. Its importance was recognised when UNESCO undertook to restore the temple in the '70s. The history of Borobudur is unknown and no historical records have been found. Even the meaning of the word 'Borobudur' seems obscure. While intensive research has been done over the years, extensive restoration work was carried out in the early part of this century.
Historians believe that the monument dates back to the 8th or 9th century A.D when Central Java was under the influence of the Buddhist Shailendra dynasty. Their main evidence was a brief inscription discovered at the base of the monument.
Architecturally, Borobudur is considered unique and unusual. It was built on and around a natural hill that has been terraced and strengthened with stone. The structure comprises of a basement and nine superimposed terraces crowned with a stupa. The height of the monument is 34.5 yards while each side of the basement measures 126 yards.
The entire monument including the base, walls and galleries are profusely decorated with reliefs. Eleven series of reliefs have been identified with around 1500 separate panels. The main wall carries reliefs showing the main events of the life of the Buddha from birth to enlightenment. The two stamps released during Vesak 1978 featured two of these.
The 15 cents stamp depicts Prince Siddhartha who was born with all the luxuries in life, having realized the futility of such existence with all its sensual pleasures, leaving in search of truth. The intricately carved relief shows Prince Siddhartha decked with royal apparel standing on a lotus pedestal. The figure next to him kneels with a parasol and another with a sword. In the corner is the horse Kanthaka looking sadly at the master.
The 50 cents stamp shows the Prince cutting off his hair with the sword with Channa on his left holding the head dress with the right hand and the scabbard of the sword with the left. The 'devas' are seen around the Prince.
Vesak stamps issued in 1981 featured three scenes from three different temples. 'In honour of the Buddha' was the title used from a panel from the Great Stupa at Sanchi, India (35 cents) dating back to the first century A.D. The panel has been identified as the Parinirvana of the Buddha.
The 50 cents stamp carried a painting of a Bodhisatva from a silk banner discovered in the cave of the Thousand Buddhas at Tun-huang where the largest collection of early Chinese paintings have survived from the second half of the 4th century.
The Rs 7 stamp featured the terracotta figure of a Bodhisatva from Fondukistan, Afghanistan dating back to the 7th century A D.
A lgae are the simplest forms of plant life, and have neither flowers nor roots. They occur wherever there is any moisture, on land, in fresh water and in the sea. They are usually coloured green, but some are more blue-green, and yet others brown or red. Whatever their colour, all seaweeds contain chlorophyll which helps them to make their own food.
Algae vary in size from microscopic one-celled plants to large seaweeds. One of the world's largest plants is a long oarweed found in the Pacilic, which grows to 200 metres. A common one-celled alga is called Pleurococcus. It forms the green, powdery growth on tree trunks, walls and gate posts, and is easily spread by the wind.
Other minute algae live in fresh water. They drift about in huge numbers as part of the plankton, and are a valuable food supply for pond life. Euglena is a tiny, pearshaped alga with a whip-like tail, or flagellum, which helps it to move through the water. Volvox is globeshaped and consists of a colony of cells which slowly revolves through the water.
Some algae grow cells end to end which join up into long threads. Cladophora, or blanketweed, is a many-threaded plant which sticks to rocks and stones, and may choke the water. In ponds, puddles and ditches a green scum is formed by Spirogyra. It feels slimy if you touch it.
Diatoms and desmids are one-celled algae which have a hard cell wall made of silica. Countless numbers of their fossils have turned into a rock called diatomite. This is mined and used for insulation, as it does not burn.
Diatoms have many shapes. During spring and summer they multiply in vast numbers in the sea. They are the main source of food for the krill on which whales feed.
Reproduction in algae
Algae reproduce either by breaking off pieces which continue to grow, or by means of zoospores. A cell in the tilament (thread-like body) of Spirogyra will divide into these spores which then swim away and grow into new threads.
Sexual reproduction is also quite common among algae. In the one-celled pond alga, Chlamydomonas, two separate plants (called gametes) swim together and join up to form a cell called a zygote. This then divides into "daughter" cells which are set free.
In another pond alga, the Oedogonium, actual sex cells are produced. Male cells swim away from one plant to find another plant containing egg cells. The male cells fertilize the female cells and a new plant is ready to grow.
Apart from growing on stones and other plants, algae will also attach themselves to the shells of snails and mussels. One of their most unusual homes is on the hair of the South American sloth which spends much of its time hanging upside down in trees.
Seaweeds are the larger forms of algae. There are about 600 kinds around the shores of Britain alone. A seaweed usually consists of a blade or leaf-like frond, a stalk, and an organ called a holdfast. This is used to cling to stones, rocks, shells and breakwaters. Seaweeds are slimy to touch. The "slime" is a protective barrier against drying out in the sun when the tide is out.
Seaweeds are divided into four groups according to their colour -- green, blue-green, brown and red. Some, especially the bluegreens, have not changed for millions of years.
A common green seaweed is Enteromorpha. It consists of thin strands which cover the mud high up the shore. The sea lettuce looks much like the true lettuce. Both these seaweeds form slippery layers, especially at river mouths.
Along rocky shores the brown seaweeds, called wracks, are the most common. At the top of the beach is the channel wrack. It may turn black and brittle if not washed by the tide, and dries up in the sun. Half way down the beach is the knotted wrack which has large, single air-bladders on its fronds. Lower down still is the bladder wrack. It has pairs of smaller bladders which help to float the seaweeds when the tide is in.
At very low tides other brown seaweeds can be seen. These are the long oarweeds or tangles which form dense, underwater forests.
The red seaweeds are usually smaller than the brown ones, and can be found in rock pools, or in deeper water. On a sloping, rocky beach the green seaweeds are mostly at the top, and the browns and reds nearer the bottom.
Some seaweeds reproduce by breaking into separate parts. Others put out runners. Most seaweeds have separate male and female organs on separate plants. Their male and female sex cells unite to produce spores which then grow into new plants. In bladder wracks the sex cells are produced in hollow chambers near the tips of the fronds.
Seaweeds have many uses. Farmers gather them from along the beach and spread them on the land as fertilizer. Some types are used in paper-making. Others that contain a glue-like substance are put into jellies to make them set.
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