Category Archives: Indian traditions

Burghers: Their Lamprais and Their DBU in Colombo

 Vidya Balachander writing in December 2014 with this title “History Baked in Banana Leaf” ……………… How a savory rice and meat dish remains a fragile thread between modern Sri Lanka and 16th century Dutch Burgher settlers.

With the lamprais in the backseat, I could barely focus on anything else. The modest parcel of food wrapped in a banana leaf, freshly baked and still warm to the touch, was demanding my complete sensory attention. The mildly woody smell of the banana leaf mingled with the unmistakable aroma of meat, and like a gentle cloud the fragrance wafted up and settled comfortably in the car for the remainder of my journey home. They say you eat with your eyes first, but in this case, it was the aroma of the lamprais in my backseat that had me hooked.

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The 43 Group in Ceylon: Their Story

Rohan de Soysa,  copy of a PowerPoint Presentation made to the National Trust of Sri Lanka on September 29, 2016 by Rohan de Soysa transcribed into text format …. with coloured underlining [as distinct from that in black] being emphasis imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

The Origins: The `43 Group was the first modern art movement in Sri Lanka. It arose because a group of artists felt that the art being practiced and taught at the time was too academic and rigid; nor did it attempt to follow new developments in European art since the early 20th Century. They therefore decided to form a group more open to these new developments but with a distinct Ceylonese stamp and flavour.

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Dhammika Thera’s History of Bodh Gaya

S. Dhammika

The town of Bodh Gaya in the north Indian state of Bihar is the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment and the most sacred place in the Buddhist world. For over 2000 years pilgrims have made their way to Bodh Gaya from every corner of Asia, often leaving records of their visit in inscriptions, memoirs, travelogues and even graffiti. Using these and other sources the book chronicles the place’s long and fascinating history. It recounts the magnificent ceremonies that once took place there, the saints and scholars associated with it and the various legends that grew up around it. Including previously overlooked information it also challenges the popular belief that Bodh Gaya was destroyed at the end on the 12th century and was forgotten and unvisited by Buddhist pilgrims for the next 700 years. This book should prove to be of interest to Indologists and social historians as well as to Buddhists.

Catalogue No.  BP630s  Language:  English
Publisher:  Buddhist Publication Society………

e-mail: bps@bps.lk.……….Tel:  .94 81 2237283 …. Fax: +94 81 2223679

Type: Book  Category:
ISBN:  978-955-24-0433-7  (2018)  (Paperback)
Pages:  146   Size: 145 x 226 mm

Price: $4.00     Rs. 225

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Robert Pape’s Blunders in Tigerland: Pape’s Muddles on ‘Suicide Bombers’ in Sri Lanka

Michael Roberts, reprinting here an article which appeared initially in November 2007  as Working Paper No. 32 November 2007 in the Heidelberg Papers on South Asian PoliticsISSN: 1617-5069 …. edited by Subrata Mitra. Insofar as this essay is being reproduced in 2020, I cannot overstress the point at which it appeared in the public realm — in 2007 well before the LTTE was defeated… [noting that, with the exception of the emblematic Picture at the start, all other illustrations appeared in the Heidelberg publication. These pictorial scenes, I stress now in 2020, are valuable data in themselves].

No study of the LTTE can afford to neglect Sri Lanka’s cultural, historical, and geographical backdrop, The lack of existential awareness of religious cross-fertilisation, the either/or foundations of Western reasoning and the absence of local knowledge bedevil the scholarship that incorporates Sri Lanka within the global surveys of suicide attacks. Pape’s Dying to Win is an example. Here, in Pape’s article, the LTTE’s multi-pronged capacities are poorly evaluated. Too much significance is attributed to the coercive success of SMs in bringing the government to the negotiating table at various moments. Religious persecution has not been the main reason for the Tamil struggle. Comparative references to SMs elsewhere are occasionally interspersed in this review of the Sri Lankan scene.

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Kamikaze, Mujahid, Tamil Tiger: Sacrificial Devotion in Comparative Lens

Michael Roberts, reprinting an essay drafted in 2007 and since presented in Fire & Storm in 2010 (chapter 19: 131-38)

  • Gandhi tried for years to reduce himself to zero” (Dennis Hudson 2002: 132).
  • Hitler: “You are nothing, your nation is everything” (quoted in Koenigsberg 2009: 13).
  • LTTE: “the martyr sacrifices himself for the whole by destroying the I…” (Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam’s interpretation of a Tamil Tiger supporter’s poem; 2005: 134).
  • Spokesman for Al Qaida after the Madrid bombing: “You love life and we love death”
  • Col. Karuna, ex-LTTE: “Death means nothing to me….”
  • The Hagakure is “a living philosophy that holds that life and death [are] the two sides of the same shield” (Yoshio Mishima in his The Way of the Samurai, quoted in Moeren 1986: 109-10).
  • Bushido means to die” (Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney 2002: 117).
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVpbl0azdFM …. Kamikaze strike

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Allahu Akbar! Missing Dimensions in Contemporary Reportage

Michael Roberts

I recently watched a good part of Stephen Sackur’s dialogue with a French lady politician [whose name I have forgotten]. Sackur pursued his usual hard-line aggressive and bullying mode of questioning – posing vigorous criticisms of the French government’s position on secularism and its hostility to the carving out of sacred domains by French Muslim peoples.  The implicit suggestion[1] was that the British system’s tolerance of religious sensibilities was a better line of policy.[2]

Muslim protests … and the selfie proudly posted by the Islamic terrorist who was responsible for the killings in Nice in October 2020

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The Ahikuntika …. Roaming Gypsies of Sri Lanka

Pujitha Wijetunge, in http://www.lankalibrary.com/cul/gypsy.htm ….where the title is “Ahikuntika: Roaming Gypsy Clan”………. alas, no date given

Clad  in a sari and with a red mouth that showed signs that she was chewing beetle, Lili didn’t look any different from those fortune-tellers or palm readers who were a common sight in the streets few years back. But the next generation, Lucki, looked very much like those village boys, wearing a sarong and a gold painted wristwatch.

Lakshman with his dancing cobra.

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Myth-making Ridiculous: Raavana on Fire!

Grace Bains in  Scoopwhoop where the title is A Demon For Us But A Hero For Sri Lankans, The Fascinating Story Of Ravana, According To Lanka” and Chandre Dharmawardena, in Island, 11 September 2020

As we celebrate Dussehra, we recount Ramayana and the lessons that come with it. For us, the Ramayana isn’t just a story of Lord Rama winning over Ravana and rescuing Sita. It is about good winning over evil despite the many obstacles. It is the story that gives Indians hope and motivation to keep fighting for what they know is right.

But we all know that every story has two sides.

Source: Daily Mirror

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Modernist Fundamentalism: Missing the Force of Walk, Talk and Majesty in Sinhaladom

Michael Roberts

Asanga Welikala edited an important book entitled The Republic at Forty in 2012 in which I participated (CPA, 2012). Both Welikala and Roshan de Silva-Wijeyeratne have formidable curriculum-vitae behind them. Their recent intervention in criticism of the Rajapaksa state today[1] also happens to rely heavily on SJ Tambiah’s work on the mandala state,[2] a topic which also informed my concept of the “Asokan Persona,” which is developed within four chapters in my book Exploring Confrontation (1994).

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Eelamist Movement Rises Again in the North?

Dinasena Ratugamage, in Island, 15 August 2020, where the title is “Wiggy makes vow before LTTE memorial”

Newly elected TMTK (Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani) MP C.V. Wigneswaran, on Thursday (13), vowed before the LTTE memorial at Mullivaikkal that he would fulfill the aspirations of the Tamil people.

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