|Monday, 14 April 2003|
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Time for a new beginning
Today, as another Sinhala and Tamil New Year dawns, it is apt that we reflect on its true significance. Little do we realise that it is an occasion for collective rejoicing - a moment of exultation that cuts across all man-made barriers: racial, religious, linguistic and cultural.
Avurudu, has few rivals as an event in the life of the nation, which brings all sections of the populace into a single bonding. It is one national event which brings to both the Sinhalese and the Tamils a feeling of profound togetherness.
Unfortunately, this dimension in Avurudu is not subjected to searching analysis, except by a few, who have the interests of the country at heart. However, in this day and age when multiethnicity and plurality are being viewed as foundational values of democracy, it is meet that we reflect long and deep on this common cultural bonding between the Sinhala and Tamil communities.
The happy occasion of Avurudu which brings the principal communities of this country together in a great, commonly celebrated cultural festival, reflects the profound commonalities.
We have evidence of the degree to which differences between the Sinhala and Tamil communities are imagined and purposely "constructed". It would be relevant to reflect that in contemporary sociological discourse, communities are said to be "imagined" and consciously constructed in the minds of some who have a vested interest in the creation of differences. This is the reason why the degree of success in ending the so called ethnic conflict in this country has to be measured in terms of the granting of human rights to all sections of the people. In the final analysis, peace is all about re-democratizing a State and the realisation of fundamental rights is an integral part of the democratization process. In other words, peace is all about respecting the humanity of each other.
Accordingly, the national festival which is the Sinhala and Tamil New Year should be seen as an occasion for the celebration of the common humanity of all Lankans. This point brings us to some specifics in the current peace process. If the notion of "community" is a mere mental construct and has no basis in reality, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights offers itself as containing the only valid principles on which a political community could be established and sustained.
Thus, democracy emerges as the most appropriate form of human government, as it is founded on the bed rock of human rights. In other words establishing democracy in the true sense of the word, is the task before Sri Lanka's peace negotiators. The equitable distribution of power, which is a democratic principle, should be our goal as this is the defining essence of a democratic polity. Avurudu should awaken us to these essential truths on account of its non-communal nature.
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