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A 30-year odyssey of a Buddhist monk to protect a national heritage

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by Saman Indrajith

Ven Vanawasi Rahula Thera is not a person who needs an introduction as his legendary role in founding the National Ironwood Forest (Jathika Namal Uyana) at Galkiriyagama in Dambulla and protecting it for the past three decades is well known. But for him Namal Uyana would have been bulldozed and the trees would have been cut down as the country had witnessed a widespread deforestation with blessings of those in power in those 30 years.

March 28 of this year marks the 31st anniversary of the Namal Uyana. In 1991, Ven Rahula made his ashram at this site in the dense forest which has historic, archaeological, geographic as well as religious value. The site is considered very rich in biodiversity. Today, the Namal Uyana is considered the largest ironwood forest in the country and the home to the largest Rose Quartz Mountain Range in South Asia.

To coincide with the anniversary Ven Rahula Thero took the lead to form JNUIEO (Jathika Namal Uyana International Ecological Organisation) to ensure the sustainability of the campaign he started three decades back. “It is not sure that those in power understand the value of this site except in rupees and cents. People of this generation will stand by me to prevent any harm to it. The site is now internationally recognized and forming an international organisation will ensure its protection and benefits for the future generations,” Ven Rahula Thero said in an interview with the Sunday Island.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: A period of 30 years is almost a generation. You have been protecting this site for that long. How would you describe that past?

A

: This site was not populated when I arrived here. I think it was I who first brought it to the notice of the public after the times of ancient kings. According to the legend, King Devanampiyatissa had plans to set up a religious park somewhere near Dambulla. It is said that the work had commenced but owing to some unexpected reasons the King’s plans did not succeed and he was compelled to move the proposed site for that park to his capital city in Anuradhapura.

He established that religious park and named it as Mahamevuna Uyana. What happened to the abandoned site in Dambulla for the next few centuries was a mystery. Later during the times of King Dappula IV, the abandoned garden was found and it was declared as a human sanctuary and a monastery was said to have been set up. An inscription by the King Dappula IV declaring the religious site as a human sanctuary can still be seen at Adiyagala at the entrance to Namal Uyana.

When I arrived here it was dense forest. I was determined that this site should be protected for the posterity and built a hut on a Mora tree and started living there on March 28, 1991. There had been many threats to the environment and especially the pink quartz site. I fought against those threats and with the help of the media and people so that we could protect this site. Today school children, local and foreign tourists arrive here because it is now known as the largest ironwood forest in the country and the home to the largest Rose Quartz Mountain Range in South Asia.

The site covers around 2,000 acres. Surrounding areas have benefited with infrastructure development because the Namal Uyana has become a tourist attraction. I think I have done my duty as a Bhikkhu as well as a citizen. I did not build sky-scraping stupas or Buddha statues but protected and preserved a forest that can help all beings to breathe the oxygen they need. In addition, the park is rich in biodiversity. Although there is no complete documentation on the fauna and flora species found in this forest, it is believed that there are over 102 plant species out of which 85 per cent are of medicinal value. In addition there are over 18 species of birds and a large number of animals except the leopard and the bear. Many reptile, insect, butterfly and fish species are also found here. The Mesua nagssarium (Batu Na) is endemic to Sri Lanka. The ironwood tree was declared the national tree by former President Ranasinghe Premadasa on July 26, 1996.

Q: What is the need and objectives of the forming of an international organization?

A:

I have been protecting this park now for three decades. Later I handed this over to the Central Cultural Fund. By doing so I thought of reliving myself of all ties to it to further my religious aspirations. Yet, it seems that my task is not completed because I have doubts whether the future generation would be able to benefit from this park as many of those in power see only the monetary value of natural resources.

This park with the pink quartz mountain is said to be over 550 million years old. According to archaeologists the site had been in existence even during the proto-historic period of this country. One of the objectives is to allow any student whether Sri Lankan or foreign to come here and study its natural and other resources. This park is open to anyone irrespective of religion, colour, politics and race. It may serve the need of an educational centre while its protection is ensured. Currently, the site has become a centre promoting environmental and nature tourism and education. This status should continue with further facilities. The new organization will allow not only Sri Lankans but also foreigners to take part in preserving this heritage for posterity.

Q: Could you please explain the structural and organizational nature of JNUIEO?

A:

JNUIEO is registered body managed by a board of directors. Apart from that board we intend to open the membership to 100,000 Lankans countrywide in three categories – honorary, lifetime and working. We hope to appoint organizers in foreign countries as well as in Sri Lanka at electorate and district levels. This would be a secular organization since we are against religious extremism. It would remain non-political because we do not support any political party. There are many other organizations in the country to achieve such objectives.

I do not think ensuring of environmental and natural resource protection could be done by an organization that supports a political agenda. We are not against the development like some other green organizations but emphasize the need to strike a balance between the environment protection and development. This has been made an international body because the handful of environmental protection bodies in the country have no proper management skills. We may be able to bring in international persons with such skills and knowledge to ensure the protection of Namal Uyana.

Q: Do you think that the government would help you in this endeavor?

A:

Well…I have experiences of working with all Presidents since 1991 and other public officials. I could say that I have received lot of assistance rather than hindrances. Since I am non-partisan I had no problem of approaching or working with any of those heads of state and government so far. They have helped me time to time and sometimes have provided resource persons too.

Q: Any special message to our readers?

A:

I must thank Upali Newspapers Ltd and other media organizations for standing by me during the past whenever I campaigned to protect Namal Uyana. I hope that they would continue their services to protect this site in future. I invite anyone with an interest to preserve this national heritage to join hands with us.



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Life style

Why is jewellry important in fashion?

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Jewellery has the ability to add beauty and style to you and whatever ensemble you are wearing. Whether it is costume jewellry or fine jewellery it is the wearer’s delight as it further highlights their personality with the look that it adds to your ensemble. You’re all dressed up and on your way out when you glance in the mirror and realize… something is missing. The outfit is flawless and the shoes are perfect, and then you spot it: A gorgeous bib necklace will make you look even better in that dress! Whether you’re on a date with someone sweet or dressing to impress a potential boss, you can use statement je ellery to transform your wardrobe.

“Jewellery has the power to be the one little thing that makes you feel unique.” — Elizabeth Taylor

The human love affair with all things sparkly has a long history Jewellery has always made a fashion statement.

Some of the earliest statement jewellery was found in Egypt. Collar necklaces, dangling earrings, and thick, cylindrical rings were all prevalent in Egyptian jewellery boxes.

The Romans loved their jewels too, but they preferred rings. These rings were made with heavy stones for winter and lighter, more delicate materials for the summer. Regardless of composition, the important characteristic of Roman jewellery was history, not value. As is the case today, in ancient Rome, a bauble could be priced higher if it had an illustrious history behind it.

Coco Chanel began creating her own elaborate jewellery in the 1920s, using crystal or coloured glass in varying sizes as the Egyptians had. Coco is often credited with popularizing the concept of “costume jewellery,” creating seasonal items that mixed real and imitation stones and pearls.

Vivenne Becker, an antique jewellery veteran, talks about “The Cocktail Style” in her book, Fabulous Costume Jewellery: History of Fantasy and Fashion in Jewels. Popular during the ’30s and ’40s, this jewellery era was all about big, jewellered rings, multi-strand pearl necklaces, and extensive use of gilt metal and rose gold. She describes “cocktail jewellery” as “bubbly and extravagant, like the alcoholic concoctions from which it took its name. It was assertive, bossy, jewellery to show off in.”

While making a statement in the ’50s meant throwing on a charm bracelet, jewellery in the ’60s had a bit more punch. Designer Paco Rabanne fully embraced statement jewellery, experimenting with cheap materials like plastic and PVC and using bright colours. He said, “I made jewellery for the alternative side of women’s personality, for their madness.”

It’s a crime to talk about statement jewellery without discussing the woman whose accessories always have something to say: Madeleine Albright. In her book, she tells the stories behind some of her favourite pins. In one tale, she recalls the first pin she wore to send an intentional political message. The pin was a gold snake wrapped around a branch, which she wore after being referred to as an “unparalleled serpent” by the Iraqi press. Dr. Albright still enjoys collecting pins, though she mentions she receives many as gifts

Modern day statement jewellery is big, bold, and full of many elements from previous decades. Today, we love pieces that incorporate the glitz and glam of the ’30s and ’40s, and the colours and materials of the ’60s. Most of all, we love statement jewellery’s eternal ability to make heads turn.

Fashion trends constantly evolve, but jewellery steadfastly remains an accessory that women turn to. Nothing can make an ensemble shine quite like jewellery can. It also makes the perfect statement for self-expression.

Jewellery changes the way your outfit ‘works’. Whether you wear an extravagant ring, or a simple necklace, a statement bracelet or subtle stud earrings, your choice of jewellery has the power to elevate your look to a whole new concept. In fact, fashion designers and jewellers have long since been working together to create various styles. Also, gemstones are no longer simply embellishments – they are pieces of art. Jewellery is definitely a big part of fashion. Here are some reasons why:

New look every day

Love your white shirt and end up wearing it too often? That’s ok! Make it look different each time with different jewellery! For a formal look, pair it with gold studs or drop earrings; for a Boho look throw on some chunky bangles and stack rings, or look casual and laid-back with tassel and pom pom earrings. You can also wear your pieces to match your mood.

Sparks conversations

Certain pieces are called conversation starters for a reason. Bold or quirky, intricate or chunky, such pieces of jewellery naturally draw attention and spark friendly discussions.

Accentuates your personality

Jewellery is a great way to express yourself, so select pieces that match your personal style and personality. It also allows your creativity and individualism to shine through and speak for themselves.

The biggest question probably is, how to choose jewellery that will complement your look, your mood and your personality. Also, how to style the pieces so they will enhance your wardrobe. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you dazzle!

Jewellery styling tips

. Define the focus of your look: jewellery or clothing?

When you start dressing, decide on this first. A simple outfit can be transformed into something spectacular with the right jewellery, or a statement piece. If the focus is on your clothing and it is bold, then choose small, subtle pieces as highlights, such as the Bliss solo stone bracelet with a mother of pearl.

Layer and stack

Experiment with layering your necklaces and stacking your earrings, rings and bangles! Mixing different lengths, shapes, textures and colours and seeing what works is a lot of fun! Layering necklaces of differing lengths can bring focus to your face. You can also stack rings in different gemstone colours or combine ear cuffs with hoops for an interesting look. Mixing your jewellery on your wrist can create a friendly jangle as you move your arm.

Experiment with mixing metals

Wearing a silver necklace? You don’t have to pair it with other silver jewellery as a rule. Contrast your pendant colour with its chain, or stack rings with different metal or gemstone colours. Try the same with your bangles and bracelets. If it looks good and makes you feel confident, just go with it!

Don’t follow trends blindly

Evolve your own style. Whatever accessory you choose, own it, flaunt it, be confident wearing it. Pick jewellery that suits your style, looks good on you and complements your colouring, and mostly, your personality.

Don’t overdo it

When you’re enthusiastic about jewellery, it’s easy to sometimes over-accessorise. So just watch out to make sure you’re not cluttering your look with excess. For instance, if you’re drawing attention to your neckline with a statement choker or layered necklace, don’t stack too many bracelets that compete for attention. Or, if you’re wearing bold pendant earrings, then a simple, matching necklace should be enough – or even no necklace.

How to match jewellery with your outfit

If you’ve ever been stuck wondering what jewellery to pair with which outfit, then this is for you! Just go with these handy hints:

Selecting jewellery

Consider where you’re going and what you’ll be doing, when selecting your jewellery If you’re dressing up for work and will be using your keyboard most of the day, avoid jangling bangles and hanging bracelets. Wear the longer, dressier earrings for formal events and parties and the more flamboyant pieces for casual outings.

Choose jewellery that

complements your skin tone

Jewellery is a great way to highlight your skin tone. Warm skin tones go well with yellow so gold is a good choice. Silver and white gold illuminate natural tones.

Pair busy patterns with

simple jewellery

You get a confused, gaudy look when you marry a busy print with loud, ornate jewellery.

Instead, consider simple, solid pieces.

Highlight your face with

earrings

If you want the spotlight on your face, then don a pair of statement earrings. Go for the flashy, glittering ones that make your eyes sparkle! Also, consider the shape of your face when choosing your earrings. For instance, studs and triangular earrings look best on an oval face.

– ToI

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From runways to red carpets, clogs are making a major comeback

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In case you haven’t noticed, clogs are having a moment – and we’re here for it. These ’90s “it shoes” have been popping up everywhere, from runways (Alaïa, Givenchy and Gucci to name a few), to social media, and even on the red carpet (Justin Bieber wore the Balenciaga Hardcrocs to the Grammy’s.) Although they may seem like a relic of the past, the folkloric footwear have been reimagined time and again with modern twists. This time around, designers chose rubber materials, unconventional colours and cozy textures as some of the ways to update the traditional style.

Even if your aesthetic isn’t all about the ’90s, clogs make the perfect shoes for any occasion they’re stylish and comfortable enough to wear all day long and easy to slide on and off. But they also add an interesting element to jazz up your outfits as the new season starts.

Whether you choose to pair them with a flowery dress or a pair of oversized jeans, there’s something about the quirky slip-ons that people can’t get enough of.

Clogs have emerged as one of the top footwear choices for pandemic living. They function like a slipper (comfortable and easy to get into), but with elevated style (and height) — and soles sturdy enough to wear for hours.

Doctors and nurses rely on them for long shifts, as do chefs and anyone else who stands at work all day.

They look cool, giving off equal parts art teacher, with-it parent, and fashionable ceramicist. Clogs are popular from the stylish ones worn by famous people to the hippie-ish ones preferred by men.

If you’ve seen a celebrity in clogs, chances are those clogs were from No.6. It’s the brand worn by Claire Danes, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, and Maya Rudolph, who wore several pairs in her Amazon show Forever.

Although No.6 clogs are no longer trendy, they’re not passé either. The brand has become so ubiquitous they’re practically canonized. Its clogs come in a bunch of different styles, including sexy high heels, flat heels and come in different colours and patterns .– Hello

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Life style

How Does Your Sense of Style Change as Your Age?

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Life is an adventure about constant discovery, and the longer you live, the more you learn about yourself. And this is no more evident than in the style of clothing you wear.

As kids and young adults, clothing is about freedom, mobility, and daring to show skin. Fashion choices are riskier and in tune with current trends. At a young age, our personalities and sense of style are not fully formed yet, so a lot of experimentation is to be expected. This is both thrilling and a chore, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Our Growing Sense of Style

As we move into our twenties and thirties, styles become more about personality, a sense of self-promotion, and respectability. Careers are blossoming, date nights are still regular, and hangouts with friends keep the social calendar filled.

Kids also start to enter the picture here and while the social activities may see a decrease, the need for quality fashionable looks does not. Even if your days are spent following the young ones around, dressing up for yourself improves your wellbeing. Get into the fashionable athleisure look that is dominating casual comfort. Casual tees, joggers, and a pair of fashion sneakers elevate your style, improve your mindset, and are still practical for everyday wear.

Movin’ Up in Years

Moving forward into 40’s and 50’s style becomes more sophisticated with key pieces worn exceptionally well for a put-together look. At this point, you will have learned that fashion isn’t about cost per wear but rather joy per wear. It’s important to cast aside the old mantra of when you hit 40 fashion dies. Stick to what you know and experiment with some new styles and you’ll stay in the game for life. A staple tee, pair of shorts, and hat are the perfect summer go-to, at all ages.

From 60’s onward, style changes into comfort with exceptional style. However, you get a second wind of showcasing personality now that there is more time to focus on yourself again without kids or a job in the way. From fancy lip colors to new shoes to bright jackets, women over 60 are finding fashionable accessories to pair with their looks for a fresh and invigorating look.

A Modern Sophisticated, and Stylish Approach to Aging

As you age your sense of style becomes more modern, sophisticated, and stylish in a way that is uniquely you and fits into your lifestyle. However, when so many stores predominantly offer clothes for a more youthful market, it can be hard to find the pieces that your lifestyle requires.

To keep up with style, shift your focus from trending items to fabrics and looks that stand the test of time. Classic white tops, black pants, and a belted dress are a must-have. These choices lead to a more refined look with more sophisticated that make your style timeless no matter what decade we’re in.

A Changing Focus

As your style changes over the years, the appeal of dated and trendy looks diminishes, and rising in its place is a desire for an effortless and classic look to fit a greater variety of occasions. The tendency is to choose styles that distance ourselves from childish appearances, such as the frills and bows of our youth. Styles for more mature audiences focus more on clean lines, well-fitted items, and classic colors and patterns.

Changing Body Shape

One aspect of an evolving style as you age that tends to redefine how we dress is body shape. Body shape changes that occur with age is a natural process of life, especially if kids are in the picture. Your choice of style should complement your beautiful shape, and leave you feeling confident, comfortable, and ready for anything that life throws your way.

This doesn’t mean you need to wear baggy clothing. In fact, wearing well-made, tailored clothing will make you feel most comfortable. Choose styles made of fabrics with a little built-in stretch for more flexibility. Another great option is to choose pieces that are versatile, such as a jean jacket, a tunic top, and the everyday jean. It’s an important facet of changing style as aging occurs to continue to embrace yourself and have confidence in the growing maturing and self-awareness you possess. Be stylish, and be comfortable. But mostly be you and pick clothes that fit into your lifestyle, not the other way around. You’ll be much happier in the end.

Celebrate the Journey

You can tell a lot about someone’s personality and age by their style and choice of dress. Every detail about your presentation communicates something. So it’s important to be aware of this and celebrate yourself and your message as you age. Many changes happen as you go through life from lifestyle to body and even coloring preferences. It’s important to enjoy the process of styling and dressing as you age because it’s a reflection of you and channel for self-expression.

The media might try to tell you that fashion and style all about age. But the truth is that fashion gets even more exciting as you mature, so celebrate your journey.

– Lifestyle Mag.

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