Apegama opens vista of traditional wisdom
President Mahinda Rajapaksa will introduce the authentic traditional village concept with the opening of ‘Ape Gama’ on Wednesday November 13 to coincide with the commencement of the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo. The venue will be the Jana Kala Kendraya at Battaramulla, herein after known as the Ape Gama Premises.
The Ape Gama Authentic Village was developed under Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s guidance on the President’s advice.
The entire area, which in essence is broken into three parts- ‘Ape Gama’ craft village, folklore centre and a mini zoo.
The village headman, flora and fauna, traditional physician's clinic, vee bissa, pinthaliya, craft houses are also included.
The traditional village also features a number of mud huts with thatched roofs life-sized figures of men and women engaged in work as in the old days. There huts will serve as folklore centres for guests while also displaying some of Sri Lanka’s oldest handicrafts.
Guests can first enjoy the local culture, then the trumpets of the elephants before entering an exhibition site which hosts plots of some of the country’s key vegetation crops. Plump purple brinjals hang from their shoots, cinnamon plants, cashew, coffee, pepper, carrot, arecanut, cloves, labu, (a type of pumpkin), pan (used to make mats) are among the many items featured at the site.
Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda, National Heritage Minister Dr. Jagath Balasuriya and Botanical Gardens and Public Recreation Minister Jayaratne Herath, Ministry secretary Dr. Willie Gamage will also be present at the opening.
Development patterns advocated in Third World countries are seldom based on traditional practice. Without people's participation being at the core of all activity most programs fail.
The Sinhala colloquial term Polo Mahi Kanthawa means Mother Earth.
To any Sri Lankan having an Ape Gama (traditional village) background, nature and culture are one. In fact, the Shorter English Dictionary on Historical Principle gives the primary definition of culture as “worship, cultivation...” and in 1510 it also came to mean “Improvement or refinement by education and training.”
Surviving puranagamas (ancient villages) in Sri Lanka still preserve this traditional approach. Forest, water, land, agriculture, and a tree shrine to the local deity are all part of a unified whole.
In Panama tribal knowledge is still passed on through activity in institutions like the Kamatha or threshing floor, the pela or watch hut, and in war games such as Pora Pol and Ankeliya; performed annually. Hereditary skills are looked upon as Rajakariya or duty.
Each villager specializes in a particular function, and together the whole village in consensus maintains their cultural calendar of ritual duty understood as protection of Nature's balance. Each villager has a
unique importance. This cultural memory can still be realized in this region.
Modern scientific progress is founded upon the myth that we can compensate for, work around, and improve upon the balance of nature. Economic ‘development’ has led man to attempt conquest of nature, not life in harmony with it. Indigenous populations are looked upon as ‘primitive’ beings whose beliefs, attitudes and practices are ‘outmoded’ and ‘backward'. Of late, however, there has been a growing realization that indigenous lifestyles are harmonious with and respectful of the elements that comprise this planet; and that they transmit vital and rare wisdom concerning how to exist in harmony with ecosystems which more ‘developed’ cultures are recklessly destroying.
Destruction has gone on under the guise of ‘development’ and ‘progress’ for too long.
‘Ape Gama’ will be a permanent feature meant for the knowledge and enjoyment of visitors.