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Anecdotes about Kalasuri Arisen Ahubudu



During World War II, the Ahubudu family lived in Koggala, the birthplace of the celebrated author Martin Wickramasinghe. One day, an order was received from the Allied military authorities that the villagers were to quit the place within 48 hours as the Army was taking over the entire village for the construction of an airstrip and a military camp. The Koggala Oya was also considered ideal for amphibious aircraft. Arisen Ahubudu was at the time a very young man, and when the order to vacate came, he was down with a bad attack of typhoid. He was placed on a camp-cot and taken in this rather unusual ‘stretcher’ by bullock cart. Our motherland nearly lost an invaluable son in this exercise.

When the allied troops occupied Koggala and set about building the aerodrome, they blasted some of the huge rocks that dotted the village. Among these rocks was a massive one on which a crane (koka) had been carved centuries earlier. In his youthful wisdom Ahubudu had taken a picture of this rock from which Koggala derived its name (koka-gala), a few weeks earlier, before it was blasted to bits. Taken with a simple box camera, if this photograph still exists, it would surely be a museum piece.

The Koggala village also had a pre-historic Hirugal Devalaya (a place of sun-god worship) existing from the times of mighty King Ravana. It was Salman Wathugedara, Ahubudu’s maternal grandfather, who taught him the traditional first lesson at the auspicious time.

One day, the principal of his school brutally struck Ahubudu with a cane, over copying of a letter he was entrusted with. He then walked out of the school never to return.

After self-studying, Ahubudu qualified as a teacher and joined the Sariputta Vidyalaya, in Ahangama. On the very first day at school, he vowed never to cane a child. Thereafter, he entered the Nittambuwa Teachers’ Training College, where he became a brilliant pupil of guru Munidasa Kumaratunga, the proponent of the Hela School of thought (Hela Havula). Ahubudu, together with Jayantha Weerasekera, Raphael Tennekoon, Alaw Isi Sabihela, Jayamaha Wellala, Abiram Gamhewa and several other prominent scholars of that calibre, were ardent proponents of Hela-Sinhala or pure Sinhala.

His first appointment, as a trained teacher, was to the Deegala School, in the Matale District in 1942. From there he joined Mahinda College, Galle, where he spent the happiest days in his life as a teacher. His charm and charisma made him a popular, much loved and highly respected teacher. Always punctual, he had a unique style of teaching.

“Enu daruwa” (come hither child), “Asun ganna” (please take a seat), “Oba mona gollehida?” (In which class are you?), were some of his kind-hearted words. He came to school in immaculate white national dress. Some of the other teachers including the vice-principal also wore the same. He functioned as both the Sinhala language and art teacher. His pupils loved him so much that when they saw him coming to the class, there was pin-drop silence. He would stay after school, of his own volition, to coach free of charge, his more backward pupils.

On a corner of the block board in his class, he did a beautiful portrait of the Buddha, which soon spread to other classes, too, when he obliged to do so, on request.

Some of his pupils were given Hela names; Wickumsihe (Wickramasinghe), Gunawadu (Gunawardena), Hemsandu (Hemachandra), Wiruhiru (Weerasuriya), Dahamdas (Dharmadasa) and so on. My Portuguese surname, meaning spring in an arid land, was given a beautiful Hela twist. The year Sri Lanka won Independence from the British, in the surge of national awakening, Ahubudu composed the hit song, ‘Lanka Lanka Pembara Lanka’ sung so melodiously by Sunil Santha. This song first appeared in the small magazine ‘Hela Kumaruwa’ published by Ahubudu himself.

A few days later when he sent it to his good friend Sunil Santha, requesting him to sing it to a melody of his composition, Sunil discovered that a slight adjustment had to be made to the words if it was to be set to music. Sunil could have made the adjustment himself, for he too was a scholar and a lyricist, but he came all the way from Ja-Ela to Galle to get Ahubudu to do so. He felt that it would be impolite to do it himself or send the song back by post to Ahubudu, asking him to do what had to be done. When he came to Mahinda to meet Ahubudu, he introduced Sunil to us, his pupils. And I remember thinking that I had rarely seen such a dashingly handsome pair. They surely must have made many a female heart turn cart-wheels!

Ahubudu composed a special song for Galle’s Big Match, Richmond Vs Mahinda. Its chorus went:

‘Pandu gasala ada jaya ganne vidula Mihindu apey!

Ada dina tharagen mul thena ganne vidhuala Mihindu apey!

Mihindu apey! Mihindu apey! Viduhala Mihindu apey!

(Mahinda will be victorious at today’s match. Mahinda will lead all the way).

During school holidays, a small group of us, his pupils, would drop in at his modest home at Unawatuna, and we were introduced to his Hela Havula friends, the likes of Jayamaha Wellala, Kumarasihi Kitsiri, Liyanage Jinadas, Amarasiri Gunawadu and others, who were gathered there. It was an enchanting experience. For they would argue with scholarship on merits or demerits of this literary work or that, quoting chunks from the work to prove a point. Or, they would have a song session or a friendly contest of ‘Hitivana Kavi’ (impromptu verse).

Ahubudu was also an accomplished artist. On his sitting room wall was a framed painting by him, of the Buddha and below it was one of Jesus Christ. We were intrigued by it. So, one day we asked him what it was all about. He then said that Jesus was an incarnation of Maitri Buddha!

There is another story laced with humour. One day a pupil met him in Galle Town and asked him “Guruthumo beherak giyehida?” (Sir! Where have you been to?) Then Ahubudu replied, “Maa sanda salanta giyemi.” The pupil did not quite understand what he said. Back at home he thought long and hard. At last ,he remembered that it was the day of the General Election and that what Ahubudu had said was that he had gone to cast his vote.

Author Sri Charles de Silva was another member of the Hela Havula; he was on the Mahinda staff at the time. One day we heard a big argument from the direction of his class. And, during the interval we went there to find out what it was all about. We heard that one of the School Inspectors had asked Sri Charles’ class, the Sinhala word for ‘not admitting a thing’? One pupil had answered that it is ‘nopiligani’. The Inspector had then said that the correct word is ‘pilinogani’, which literally means ‘not taking clothes’.

The name of Ahubudu’s magazine, ‘Hela Kumaruwa’ was changed to ‘Ediya’ (Pride) and was published monthly instead of weekly. It was a popular magazine widely read by both children and adults. It contained very informative articles and a special feature was an entire page devoted to a glossary of widely used English terms translated into Sinhala by Ahubudu himself. This was 75 years ago and his Sinhala terms are widely used today. He was a pioneer in this field.

Also, it had a forum page where quarries from readers were answered. I remember a child asking the Sinhala term for ‘photograph’ which was given as ‘Seyaruwa’. A surveyor had asked for the correct Sinhala phrase for “the land was surveyed.” It was given as “idama miniksooye”. An adult had asked the correct Sinhala word for ‘loudspeaker’, which was given as ‘gohuwa’.

Ediya had an alliterative slogan:

Ediya vediye podiyange edi wadannatai.

(Ediya has come to increase the pride of little ones.)

One day a prankster in our class wrote on the blackboard:

Ediya vediye podiyange madi vedi vediyen kadannatai.


has come to make more and more money out of little ones).

Our guru enjoyed the joke on him more than anyone else. That was the charming man he was. Ediya was published at Ahubudu’s family press ‘Heli Paharuwa’ (Heli Press), managed by his brother Ahuthusu. Priced at 10 cents, even 10,000 copies were inadequate. Such was its demand.

One Chandra Dewalegama was a frequent contributor to Ediya. Once she wrote a poem ‘Ahimsaka Samanmalie’ (The innocuous Samanmalie). Editor Ahubudu, having published it in Ediya, was desirous of meeting this poetess. It turned out to be a Cupid’s adventure. Ahubudu’s homecoming was held at the historic Unawatuna of Ramayana fame. In this village is a mountain where rare medicinal herbs grow. It is said to be that part of the Himalayan mountain range that was wrenched off by the Monkey God, Hanuman, and brought to Sri Lanka during the Rama-Ravana war; the medical herbs, presumably, to be used in tending to the injured soldiers of the army. At the foot of this mountain is the popular sea-bathing resort of Unawatuna and the Welle Kovila.

The Unawatuna Village had an unusual signboard. It read ‘Pahina Pola’ (Post Office). Of interest, a pahinaya is a letter, while a pahina patha means a postcard. The invitation to his homecoming was couched entirely in flawless ‘Hela-basa’. It was short, simple, sweet and novel and may have been incomprehensible to some.

The two-liner read:

‘Arisen Ahubudu themey may masa

10 weni dina Sanda samaga siya deveni diviya arambai).

Edina pevethwena sadayehi hey obage hamuwa pathai.’

(On the 10th of this month Arisen Ahubudu will commence his second life with Sanda.

He cordially invites you to the reception to be held that day.)

Many newspapers published greetings befitting the occasion. I am one of the surviving few who attended his homecoming. On the 35th anniversary of his wedding, I wrote an article to The Island, which was published on August 30 and 31, 1988.

Mahinda’s loss was the gain of S. Thomas’ College. He then resided at No. 1, Fairline Road, close to the Dehiwala Railway Station. Some of his friends, well-wishers and pupils who were Colombo-bound by train, detrained at Dehiwala, to visit him.

The following two stories have an indirect relevance to Ahubudu. One day, long years ago, I was seated in the verandah of my house soon after lunch, and was almost dozing off when I heard the sound of footsteps. It was the celebrated author Martin Wickramasinghe who, like Ahubudu hailed from the village of Koggala. I warmly welcomed him. Soon our entire family gathered round him and was engaged in a lively conversation when my 80-year-old father asked him, quite agitated, why he had referred to a relative of his ‘Bandarawatta Mahattaya’, living in Koggala, in derogatory terms, in his book ‘Upandasita’ as ‘Bandarawatta vanahi ahankara modayeki’ (Bandarawatta is an arrogant blockhead). The author then maintained that it was a statement of fact. After he left, I was clueless as to why he had visited me. Neither have I ever met him nor written to him. The only possible connection I had with him was that I had donated a prize to the essay competition organised as part of his birthday celebrations held a few days before at the request of its organisers.

Another day, while travelling in the Negombo bound train to Ja-Ela, where I lived at the time, when the din of the train going over the Kelani Bridge jolted me, I recognised the passenger seated opposite me.

“Sir! Aren’t you the celebrated singer Sunil Santha?”

“I no longer sing. Now, I run a small store in my village,” he said.

Pointing to a bundle of dry fish under his seat, he added, “I went to Colombo to bring some required items for my store.” I then introduced myself as a pupil of guru Arisen Ahubudu and recalled his visit to Mahinda College, Galle, to meet Ahubudu. He was overjoyed to hear about it.

As I entrained at Ja-Ela he extended to me an invitation to visit him the following Sunday.

So, the following Sunday I visited him. Sunil warmly welcomed me. He recalled his days in Galle, where he had taught, before going to Shantiniketan of India, adding that he created the melody for the Sinhala College anthem of St. Aloysius College, Galle, composed by his illustrious maternal uncle, Rev. Father Moses Perera. Sunil told me that for eight beautiful years, after returning to Ceylon, he had been a songster and that for the sake of a principle, he set aside music. He said that some staffers at Radio Ceylon were in the habit of keeping their parcels of food on the grand piano inviting insects to destroy it and though he brought it to the notice of the authorities, it had fallen on deaf ears. With great reluctance, I took his leave. Back at home I wrote to Ahubudu about it.

On February 28, 1955, C. Vanniasingham, MP for Kopay, said in Parliament, that the government should stop Tamil names being obliterated for Sinhala names and cited the case of Kantale becoming Gantalawa. According to Ahubudu it is the Sinhala village ‘Govi Paya’ which became his electorate Kopay. Deeply shaken by it, Ahubudu wrote the book ‘Lanka Gam Nam Vahara’, a monograph on place names of Sri Lanka, which provided a dependable source of information. Writing to me on February 11, 1984, he lamented that unfortunately for our Motherland, he had still not been able to get it published. It ultimately saw the light of day only in 1987.

I kept in touch with him with infrequent correspondence. Usually his letters begin: Asiri (With blessings to you!)

Labanda Wiruhiruweni (Dear Weerasuriya) (Assumed name)

And ends thus: Sema Setha Pathami (Wishing you all the best)


(I remain)


(Yours affectionately)

Signed ‘Arisen Ahubudu’. His signature was beautiful, impressive and artistic.

My last letter to him was regarding the query of a lady living about 16 miles from Galle, who wanted to know how her village name ‘Nakiyadeniya’ originated. Ahubudu replied that it meant ‘Nakiyagath deniya’. (A ‘deniya’ is a land area with semi-hard soil and a high-water table, used for bathing and other similar purposes.) I met him last when he visited me in Galle. Guru Arisen Ahbudu will eternally live in our hearts!


ICC arrest warrant; a setback for authoritarian rule



‘All-weather allies’: President Xi Jinping meets President Vladimir Putin.

As should be expected, the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Russian President Vladimir Putin on war crimes allegations has given rise to a widespread debate on how effective it would be as an instrument of justice. What compounds the issue is the fact that Russia is not obliged to cooperate with the ICC, given that it is not a signatory to the Rome Statute which outlaws the crimes in question and envisages punitive action for signatory state representatives who act in violation of its provisions.

Predictably, the Russian side has rubbished the ICC allegations and its arrest warrant on the basis that they are totally irrelevant to Russia, considering that it does not recognize the ICC or its rulings. However, the fact remains that important sections of the international community would be viewing Putin and his regime as war criminals who should be shunned and outlawed.

The possibility is great of the Putin regime steadily alienating itself from enlightened opinion the world over from now on. In other words, Putin and his cohorts have incurred a heavy moral defeat as a consequence of the ICC’s arrest warrant and its strictures.

Morality may not count much for the Putin regime and its supporters, locally and internationally, but the long term consequences growing out of this dismissive stance on moral standards could be grave. They would need to take their minds back to the white supremacist regimes of South Africa of decades past which were relentlessly outlawed by the world community, incurring in the process wide-ranging sanctions that steadily weakened apartheid South Africa and forced it to negotiate with its opponents. Moreover, the ICC measures against Putin are bound to strengthen his opponents and critics at home, thereby boosting Russia’s pro-democracy movement.

However, the Putin administration could earn for itself some ‘breathing space’ at present by proving the ICC’s allegations wrong. That is, it would need to establish beyond doubt that it is not guilty of the crime of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia and other war-linked offences. It could liaise with UNICEF and other relevant UN agencies for this purpose since it does not recognize the ICC.

A wise course of action for President Putin would be to pick up this gauntlet rather than ignore the grave allegations levelled against him, in view of the long term consequences of such evasive behavior.

Besides, the Russian President would need to restrict his movements from now on. For, he is liable to be arrested and produced before the ICC by those governmental authorities who are signatories to the Rome Statute in the event of Putin entering their countries. That is, Putin’s head is likely to be increasingly restless as time goes by.

However, the gravest consequence flowing from Putin and his regime ignoring the ICC and its strictures is that later, if not sooner, they could find themselves being hauled up before the ICC. There is ample evidence from recent history that this could be so. All the alleged offenders need to do is take their minds back to the convulsive and bloody Balkan wars of the nineties to see for themselves how the ICC process, though slow and laborious, finally delivered justice to the victims of war crimes in that tempestuous theatre.

All those war criminals who have lulled themselves into believing that it is possible to escape being brought to justice before the world’s tribunals, need to recollect how former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevik and his partners in crime Rodovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the early years of this century and required to pay the price for their criminality. So confident were they initially that they would never be brought to justice that they agreed, tongue-in-cheek, to fully cooperate with the ICTY.

It is pertinent to also remember that the criminals mentioned were notorious for their ‘ethnic cleansing’ operations and other war-time excesses. Accordingly, those accused of war crimes the world over would be only indulging in wishful thinking if they consider themselves above the law and safe from being held accountable for their offences. Justice would catch-up with them; if not sooner, then later. This is the singular lesson from Bosnia.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping has considered it timely to call on President Putin in Russia. He did so close on the heels of being elected President for a third straight term recently. This is a clear message to the world that Russia could always depend on China to be a close and trusted ally. It is a question of two of the biggest authoritarian states uniting. And the world they see as big enough for both of them.

Interestingly, China is having the world believe that it has a peace plan for Ukraine. While in Russia, though, XI did not spell out in any detail how the crisis in Ukraine would be resolved with China’s assistance. However, China has drafted what is termed its ‘Position on the Ukraine Crisis’. It contains 12 points which are more in the nature of a set of principles.

Seen against the backdrop of the developments in Ukraine, some of these principles merit close scrutiny. For instance, the first principle lays out that the sovereignty of all countries must be respected. Besides, International Law must be universally recognized, including the ‘purposes and principles of the UN Charter’. However, ‘double standards’ must be rejected. Hopefully, the West got the hint.

Principle 4 has it that ‘Dialogue and negotiations are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis.’ Principle 8 points out that, ‘Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought’.

Needless to say, all the above principles are acceptable to the international community. What is required of China is to evolve a peace plan for Ukraine, based on these principles, if it is in earnest when it speaks of being a peace maker. The onus is on China to prove its credibility.

However, China could be said to be characteristically pragmatic in making these moves. While further cementing its alliance with Russia, China is placing the latter on notice, though in a subtle way, that its war in Ukraine is proving highly counter-productive and costly, both for the states concerned and the world. The costly economic consequences for the world from the war speak for themselves. Accordingly, nudging Russia in the direction of a negotiated settlement is the wisest course in the circumstances.

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In the limelight again…Miss Super Model Globe 2020



Those who are familiar with the fashion and beauty pageant setup, in Sri Lanka, would certainly remember Shashi Kaluarachchi.

Three years ago, she was crowned Miss Super Model Globe Sri Lanka 2020 and then represented Sri Lanka at the Miss Super Model Globe International, held in India.

Shashi won two titles at this big event; she was placed second in the finals (1st Runner-up) and took the title of Best National Costume.

Very active in the modelling scene, in the not too distant past, Shashi went silent, after dazzling the audience at the Super Model Globe contest.

Obviously, those who are aware of her talents were kept guessing, and many were wondering whether she had prematurely quit the fashion scene!

Not quite so…and I had a surprise call from Shashi to say that she is ready to do it again.

The silence is due to the fact that she is now employed in Dubai and is concentrating on her office work.

1st Runner-up at Miss Super Model Globe International

“When I came to Dubai, I was new to this scene but now I do have some free time, coming my way, and I want to get back to what I love doing the most – modelling, fashion and beauty pageants,” she said.

Shashi indicated that she plans to participate in an upcoming beauty pageant, to be held in Dubai, and also do some fashion shoots, and modelling assignments.

“Dubai is now buzzing with excitement and I want to be a part of that scene, as well,” said Shashi, who had her early beginnings, as a model, at the Walk with Brian Kerkoven modelling academy.

“I owe my success to Brian. He made me what I’m today – a top model.”

Shashi, who 5’7″ tall, says she loves wearing the sari for all important occasions.

“The sari is so elegant, so graceful, and, I believe, my height, and figure, does justice to a sari,”

Shashi has plans to visit Sri Lanka, in April, for a short vacation, adding that if the opportunity comes her way, she would love to do some photo shoots, and a walk on the ramp, as well.

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Dry Skin



Shorter Showers

If you have dry skin, do not take long showers, or baths. Staying in the water for a longer time can dry it out more. You should also use warm, instead of hot, water, when you wash. Hot water can strip your skin of the fatty substances that give it hydration. As soon as you finish cleansing yourself, apply a body lotion, all over your body, to moisturize. Don’t wash yourself more than once a day


Applying a daily moisturizer can do wonders for dry skin, and there are products in your kitchen you can use which are natural and effective. Try coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, or sunflower seed oil


Olive oil and brown sugar have amazing properties for the skin. Both of these substances deeply hydrate. Olive oil is also a known wound-healer, while sugar contains glycolic acid, which allows it to have anti-aging. You can make a natural scrub, using these ingredients which can be as good as the best anti-wrinkle creams.

*  Mix one tablespoon of brown sugar with a teaspoon of olive oil.

*  Blend them, and spread the mixture on your face, and neck, using a circular motion, for a few minutes.

*  Then leave it to sit for another couple of minutes, and wash it off with warm water.

You can do this twice a week for amazing results


Taking care of your lips is important. Lips can also get dry and chapped, which is why you need to keep them hydrated, daily. If you’re looking for a natural balm, try sugar and lemon, or honey, sugar, and butter.

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