The new-year comes alive with a lot of literature in varying formats showering on us Sri Lankans. It is poured out in all three languages to give a treat to anyone with an interest in the world of books.

Great! We need more of this kind to cater to all tastes of all ages with something for everyone. The 2016 literary opening is by the Galle Fairway Lit Festival on January 15 and will be followed by the Mahamaya Cultural Fair at the end of the month.

Gratiaen publishes its short-list on April 4 followed by the awards night in mid-May. Annasi and Kadalagotu is extended to two days this year and the curtain raises on May 14. The New Fairways Award for literature will have the author and the poet vying for honours in all three languages at GLF, another January event. The short-listed writers will receive attractive cash prizes and the winners will take home a cool half a million each. So the stage is set then for a welcome revival of the literary world of Sri Lanka, and it is not restricted only to chocolate-cake eaters and cappuccino drinkers but for the masses who love poetry and books and the written word. – Hurrah !!!!!!.

Let me shift the focus now towards Mahamaya Cultural Fair (MCF) in its debut initiative. January 30 at 10 am it will be ‘on your marks, get set and go’ and the event will open charging 100 rupees per entry. The venue is the spacious event-hall of the Havelock City Condominium, a prestigious housing complex located where the old Wellawatte Redi Moola used to spin. And what’s in the program guide? The show is new, yet has a variety of culture, history, folklore and tradition colouring its program. Then there are names too, prominent, popular and worthy literati of the well-known brand having their allocated time and space to entertain the audience in well-selected themes.

The plan is good, now it all depends on the delivery and you spending 100 rupees and finding the time to visit and seeing for yourself what the outcome is will be the result in reality. If not for the fact that I will be out of Sri Lanka, I certainly would have made sure to walk through the arcades of Havelock City on January 30.

I see a host of literary luminaries coming on stage, Professors J B Dissanayake and Hemamala Ratwatte lead the parade. Gratiaen winners Vivimarie VanderPoorten and Lal Madawattegedara along with many others are in the line-up, yet too many to name in this short article. Ramya Jirasinghe comes in with English poetry and the Sinhala version of that is by Timran Keerthi, the winner of Best Poetry at last year’s State Lit Awards who will do a special gig moderated by versatile facilitator Dhananath; the duo is sure to make a show of it.

Let’s look at some of the subjects highlighted. Mahamaya being rooted in Kandy, they have got a stellar selection of topics to bring on stage with the Kanda Udarata touch. Dona Katarina will be discussed and so would Ehelepola Kumarihami, both well-known characters of Kandyan history. Kusumana Devi who was ‘born again’ and Portugised to Dona Katarina and went from Princess in Colombo to be Queen of two kings of Kandy takes prime place. This is a fairy-tale, vibrant in detail and ideal for a literary discussion. Kumarihami of course is the tragedy of the kingdom, what can be sadder than pounding your own child with a pestle? Then the stage shifts to the invasion of Kandy where the message exchange between the two nilames Molligoda and Ehelepola is discussed in a poetic medium. These collective subjects cover Mahamaya’s allegiance to Senkadagala, cherry-picked with careful thought for audience consumption.

Lunch time is taken over by Kollu and cooking and auctioning what he cooked and the back ground will be the soft tones of ‘Kavi Maduwa’ with Virindu and Jana-Kavi. Raban Pada played by expert ladies will give a resonance of a dying art and a Handa Bera Karaya will be announcing the event changes instead of hand-mike toting modern comperes. There will be provision to learn drumming too, at least the basics, a rare attraction in a present day event.

Sybil Wettesinghe will recite a story to children sitting around her on mats and then ask them to draw pictures and select the winners; wonderful attraction for little ones to listen to someone who is the best in the island in her chosen field. Sachitra Mahendra will talk of his award winning ‘Didulana Dhuvilla’ and Kumaratunga Munidasa will be high-lighted when Mahamaya students dramatise parts of ‘Hath Pana” on stage.

Food, let’s go that way now after Kollu. Afternoon tea time would be a hot hot hopper feast with ginger tea and you taste and sip while browsing ‘book-swap’ corner where you pick a book and leave one too, a fair ‘no cash’ involved exchange of books to add another flavour to the Mahamaya Cultural Fair.

Have I written enough to attract your attention? Yes I presume so. It is not my writing that matters but the contents planned and organised by Mahamaya Colombo Chapter. They will present to all and sundry a day of gratification, a well laid-out buffet of ‘different tastes’ under one roof in a matter of a few hours.

I cannot predict the outcome nor the level of appreciation by those who come for the MCF at Havelock City. That can be measured only post event. But I sure applaud the effort and the vision and thinking of the organisers in creating something new to come on stage. Why not more of this, why not in different cities. Why not dig deep into the Sri Lanka we know and love and find the ‘bullet headings’ that would interest the masses. We sure could fill the stages with 100 rupee tickets to welcome the literature loving proletariat for participation.

Well done organisers, you sure baked the pudding right, now it is time for the audience to eat and make their own judgement of the taste and the related validity of what I have written. Pity, I am unable to be present. I would have loved to have been at Havelock City to be a participant and witness this Colombo Mahamaya OG effort. Unfortunately somethings in life are missed, regrettably.

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