International Year of Chemistry, 2011

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Cultural Celebration "Avurudu Asiriya" in Battaramulla, Sri Lanka

Activity by N.M. Sanjaya Hettigedara   |   added on Apr 09, 2011   |   Sri Lanka Official_iyc_logo

Sponsor(s): UNESCO, Ministry of National Heritage, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Unilevers Sri Lanka Ltd

The Cultural Programme titled "Avurudu Asiriya" was held 3 April 2011, as part of an IYC2011 activity to promote awareness of Chemistry and cultural traditions among the chemical society as well as other professional bodies in Sri Lanka. It was staged at Folk Art Centre, Ministry of National Heritage, Pelawatte, Battaramulla.

This unique cultural programme was held on the 3rd of April 2011 at Janakala Kendraya, Pelewatte, Battaramulla fom 9.00 am to 8.00 pm with the participation of more than 600 persons including members of Institute of Chemistry, visitors, family members, students and children. Being a joint effort of the Steering Committee of the National Secretariat (IYC 2011) Sri Lanka and the Social Affairs Committee of the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon, it was held at Janakala Kendraya of the Ministry of National Heritage. It was an ideal venue for the event as several buildings and the premises (provided free of charge by the Secretary, Ministry of National Heritage) full of greenery and garden benches were available for the programme. It provided a good atmosphere for the enthusiastic crowd to enjoy together. Additional facilities such as Lakasala, Batik shops and other tourist shops as well as a sales centre for Sri Lankan products such as traditional herbal drinks, kitul juggery, kitul treacle were available. Maliban Milk Products Ltd., provided milk products at a concessional price. 

(Text by: A.M. Jayasekara, Programme Officer, IYC 2011 National Secretariat (Sri Lanka)


Avurudu Asiriya Cultural Programme was ceremonially opened at 9.00 am by the President of the Institute of Chemistry and the members of the Council, President of the National Steering Committee IYC 2011 and members’ and the Chairman and Members of the Social Affairs Committee of the Institute of Chemistry by lighting the traditional oil lamp. Among the guests attended were the Secretary General of the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO and the Additional Secretary to the Ministry of National Heritage. Several staff members of the Ministry of Technology and Research and the members of the media associations and several members of the Bar Association were also present. A Japanese Professor and his family who have been in Japan for over 10 years as well a few tourists were among those who visited the event. The Sri Lanka Tourism Bureau facilitated communication with the tourist agencies and the leading hotels in Colombo to attract tourists for the event. However, in view of the already arranged programmes for the year, the tourist agencies were unable to deviate from their normal schedules for the period and bring the tourists for Avurudu Asiriya programme. The management of the Galle Face Hotel undertook to exhibit the leaflets at their reception counter.

The members of the Institute of Chemistry and the students of the College of Chemical Sciences guided by the staff actively took part in the events conducted throughout the day. A special feature was the establishment of two models of Sinhala and Tamil traditional village homes. The well decorated Sinhala ‘home’ was made very attractive with a model Sinhala ‘family’ dressed in traditional attire and with traditional Sinhala sweetmeats as well as a traditional oil lamp and betel leaf. The well decorated Tamil traditional ‘home’ had a model Tamil ‘family’ dressed in traditional costumes. Traditional Hindu foods were available. It also had a traditional oil lamp and decorations with cadjan leaves and a Kolam. The Sinhala Avurudu rituals included a ceremony of anointing oil (traditional Avurudu ritual of application of herbal medicinal oils on the head by an elderly person in the family) a special feature, which was organized by the IYC Chairman himself.

Most of the students, especially female students of the College of Chemical Sciences were dressed in colourful village dresses (eg. flower printed coloured frocks and Avurudu sarongs) specially suited for the occasion, which enhanced traditional village atmosphere throughout the day. The contestants for Avurudu Kumari (New Year Princess) and Avurudu Kumaraya (New Year Prince) were in attractive costumes. The music consisted of traditional Jana gee (folk songs) and special Avurudu songs providing much more diverse entertainment to the cheerful crowd.

The grand cultural show conducted by the Sahan Ranwala Cultural Foundation included very colorful traditional dances, songs and music. The dialogues gave a message to the young generation on patriotism and that they should not forget their valuable cultural traditions even if they are living in a foreign country. The staff, students, members of the Institute and their family members enjoyed the cultural show very much. The students of the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon, guided by the Social Affairs Committee organized a variety of entertainment activities. ‘Breaking of the clay pots’, ‘Catching of eggs’, ‘Filling of bottles with water’ by student groups, ‘Blowing of balloons’, ‘Eating of buns’, ‘Kotta pora competition’, ‘Swinging Onchilla’, searching for the hidden stranger and entertainment interviews etc were some of the fascinating events conducted amid cheers of the crowd. The Raban entertainment programme was conducted by the cultural team of the Sri Lanka Police.

The most attractive and colourful event was the selection of Avurudu Kumari (princess of the New Year) and Avurudu Kumaraya (Prince of the New Year). The contesting students of the College, well prepared for the event with colorful special costumes participated at the contest in front of a panel of judges. The contestants had to undertake various performances which were carried out amidst unending cheers of the crowd.

Plenty of Avurudu sweetmeats including, traditional Kiribath, Kevum, Kokis, Aluwa, Aasmi, plantains were available for the participants. Lunch and beverages were available for sale. Maliban Milk Foods Ltd undertook a mobile sales promotion programme by selling Maliban products at a cheaper rate.

As a result of this cultural event, the students and the staff gained another ideal opportunity to work together in a team spirit and enjoy the variety of events organized by the Institute. In views of the high degree of support gained from the members of the Council and the members of the staff, the entire programme was made a tremendous success. It was indeed an opportunity for all the staff members, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim students and their family members to come, relax and enjoy together. The excellent experience gained by the students through team work will brighten their future social life. The New Year traditions such as demonstration of traditional Avurudu rituals in the model Sinhala and Tamil homes have no doubt increased the awareness of our age old traditional cultural values leading to enhancement of strong bonds and harmony among our younger generation. There were ample opportunities for interaction among chemistry professionals and the members of other professional bodies.

As for our publicity programmes, a colourful leaflet on Avurudu Asiriya celebration was printed and made available to over 45 professional Associations in Sri Lanka, several media organizations and a few tourist hotels (through the arrangements made with Sri Lanka Tourism). The Avurudu Asiriya Sinhala and Tamil New Year Programme will be telecasted by the HERITAGE TV on the arrangements made by the Ministry of National Heritage. Press releases were sent to various media organizations. The Sri Lanka Tourism made special arrangements to publish the event through the Ministry of Information on their web site. The details of the Avurudu Asiriya programme along with pictures from a book written by Prof. G. B. Dissananayaka were published on IYC web site, www. More news and photographs will be published on the web site which has been already enriched with IYC activities so far undertaken in Sri Lanka, thus bringing much reputation to the profession of chemistry, Institute of Chemistry Ceylon, College of Chemical Sciences and the Graduate Chemists and students while achieving IYC 2011 objectives as laid down by the UN.

Topic: networking, celebrating chemistry, demonstrations, science fair Audience: students, professional chemists, professors, educators, research scientists, women chemists, graduate students
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