We enter yet another Sinhala and
Tamil New Year in a somewhat sombre mood, having just witnessed
another senseless carnage which claimed 14 precious lives,
including that of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle. This latest
incident has hardened our collective resolve to fight terrorism
and usher in peace to the country.
According to astrological beliefs, the transition of the sun
from Meena (Pisces) to Mesha (Aries), marks the beginning of a
new year. The Sinhala and Tamil New Year, celebrated every April
in Sri Lanka and many other countries in the region, is a major
event on our cultural calendar.
The New Year, though primarily celebrated by Sinhala
Buddhists and Hindus, has become a National Festival. Those from
other communities and religious groups join in the celebrations,
which are held islandwide.
Sri Lanka’s very multi-ethnic nature means that Avurudu
transcends all man-made boundaries, enveloping all communities
and religious groups in its joys.
Such ethnic and religious unity is the need of the hour,
especially when forces opposed to the peaceful co-existence of
various communities are working overtime to ignite the flames of
hatred. Amity is the only path to peace, which our Nation so
critically needs at this juncture.
Peace is very much a matter of the heart. And peace should
begin at home. This is the lesson that Avurudu teaches us. It is
a time for forgetting all past disputes. It is a time for giving
and for forgiving. It is a time for recalling and re-engaging in
cultural traditions that we have nearly forgotten.
There are those who scoff at auspicious times, but they teach
us the value of punctuality. This should not be confined to the
New Year Nekaths but rather continued throughout the year.
Respecting elders is another moral value that comes to the fore
during the Avurudu season.
At a time when elders are neglected sometimes by their
children, who prefer to keep mothers and fathers in elders’
homes, Avurudu reminds us of the importance of respecting them.
Elders impart wisdom to the younger generation and guide them on
the correct path in a world where moral values have been swept
away by a torrent of unbridled commercialism. In fact,
commercialism has crept into all national and religious
Judging by newspaper and television advertisements, Avurudu
has become one big shopping and entertainment season. Its core
values have been swept aside. But this should not be the case.
We should see through the commercial veneer into the very heart
and soul of these national events.
National events call for soul-searching on a national scale.
This is a time to reflect collectively on why and where we have
gone wrong and on how we could put things right. Avurudu is not
only an ideal opportunity for peace and reconciliation at home
and in the village, but also in the country as a whole. That is
one New Year resolution that we could all be firmly determined
to turn into reality.
That can only happen if the nation as a whole support our
heroic soldiers who spend sleepless nights in the thick jungles
of the North, fighting to liberate the people still living under
They have already achieved this feat in the East, where
Provincial Council elections will be held on May 10. Easterners
are celebrating Avurudu in an atmosphere of liberty after
several decades. The Forces’ aim is to grant that same freedom
to Northern residents as well.
This is why it is important for all Southerners to remember
with gratitude our valiant men and women on the battlefront and
elsewhere in the country this Avurudu.
Most of them cannot be with their families for Avurudu, as
they have to man the bunkers and battlelines to defend the
country. They cannot do this onerous task on their own. Our help
and cooperation are vital.
For example, the public can maintain constant vigilance so
that terrorists’ murderous designs can be thwarted. It is only
through such a concerted effort that the country can seek peace.
The coming New Year should see renewed efforts in this