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Historical glance at Galle

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Galle is the capital of the Southern Province. The popular derivation of its name is from the Sinhala word Gaala – a cattle pen.

The mighty king Ravana’s cattle pen had extended from the present day Mahapola premises to the Town Hall, according to legend.

Galle is also considered to be the Tarshish in the Bible.

It is reputed for cottage-crafts, lace making, tortoise shell work, gem polishing, ivory carving, jewellery and ornamental ebony elephants.

Area – 6.5 sq. miles

Latitude – 6° 2′ North

Longitude – 80° 13′ East

Altitude – 41 feet above Mean Sea Level

Weather – Longest day – 22nd June, shortest day – 22nd December. On the 7th April and the 5th September the sun is directly overhead Galle.

Emblem – A cock standing on a rock.

In about 2300 B.C. the Galle mechanics are reputed to have invented the king Ravana’s airship, Dandumonaraya named Pushpaka Yanaya

A.D. 545 – Cosmas Indicopleustes, Greek merchant, makes first reference to Galle.

1000 – Masudi, Muslim traveller, makes specific reference to Galle.

1344 – Ibn Batuta, the Arab traveller, from Morocco, visits Galle.

1409 – Chinese General Cheng Ho and his men landed at Galle.

1505 – Lourenço de Almeida, son of the Viceroy of Goa, was the first Portuguese to set foot in Galle.

1587 – The Portuguese capture Galle.

1592 – James Lancaster, a pioneer sailor, was the first Englishman to land in Galle.

1625 The Portuguese built the Fort of St. Cruz at Galle.

1640 – i). The Dutch capture Galle. ii). The 1st map showing Galle and its harbour was produced by Barretto de Resende.

1663 – The Dutch built the Galle Ramparts.

1758 – The first breadfruit tree brought to Ceylon from Batavia, planted in the Galle Fort.

1796 – The British capture Galle.

1800 – The Survey Department of Ceylon was created by a Proclamation issued at point de Galle.

1801 – The Kachcheri system introduced.

1810 – The British brought in Chinese and settled them at Galle to cultivate English vegetables. This settlement later came to be known as ‘China Garden’.

1832 – The Galle Library inaugurated.

1838 Galle-Colombo mail coach commenced.

1844 The Galle Police Courts established.

1848 The first lighthouse in Ceylon, built at Galle.

1850 Galle-Colombo ‘Pigeon Express’ started.

1854 – The first Sinhala Magazine in Ceylon –Yathalaba Sangarawa was published in Galle.

1860 – ‘Lanka Lokaya’, the first newspaper in Ceylon published in Galle.

1862 – The first bank in Galle, along modern lines, the Mercantile Bank established.

Prior to it was the ‘Kittange system of Banking’, which was confined to Galle, and managed by the South Indian Chettiars.

1866 – The first direct telegraph message from New York, received at Galle.

1867 – The first meeting of the Galle Municipal Council held.

1868 – The Oriental Hotel (later the New Oriental Hotel), the last and only one of the Victorian Hotels to survive today, opened. It is the first registered hotel in Ceylon.

1870 – A newspaper called ‘Gall telegraph’ published in Galle.

1874 i). Galle Cricket Club founded.

ii). The construction of the St. Mary’s Cathedral.

1880 – The arrival of Colonel Henry Steele Olcott in Galle.

1881 – The construction of the Galle Clock Tower.

1885 – i). The Galle Gymkhana Club founded.

ii). The Hindu Vel Festival commenced at Galle.

1886 – The first horse race in Galle.

1887 The first Buddhist Sunday Dhamma school in Ceylon, started at

Wijayananda Vihara, Galle. It was at this temple that Colonel H. S. Olcott observed the five precepts in, for the first time.

1888 – The birth of the National hero, Edward Henry Pedris, at Dangedara in Galle.

1889 — Opening of Victoria Park. (Now Dharmapala Park)

1892 — Reservoir at Bekke was built.

1894 — The first train from Colombo reached Galle. People had danced on the platform, with a band in attendance.

1896 — The first Galle baby born in London. She was named ‘London Harry’.

1897 — King Choolalankara of Siam visits Galle.

1903 — The demise of Dr. P. D. Anthonisz, in whose memory the majestic Galle Clock Tower was built by a grateful public, while he was still living.

1905 — i). Richmond-Mahinda big match series commenced.

ii), The first owner car arrived in Galle.

1907 — Low Country Planters Association formed. (L.C.P.A.)

1911 — Hiyare Reservoir constructed.

1913 — The Southern Province Boy Scouts Association founded.

1919 — At the age of 13, Prof. Lyn Ludowyk, then a student of Richmond College, was the youngest King’s Scout in the British Empire.

1922 — i). Dr. Rabindranath Tagore visited Galle.

ii). Widespread epidemic of bubonic plague in Galle.

1924 — The first film theatre ‘Britannica’ opened.

1926 — i). Ceylon National Congress Sessions held in Galle with E.W. Perera as president. ii). Galle gets electricity.

1927 — Mahatma Gandhi visits Galle.

1930 — The first principal, P. R. Gunasekara of Mahinda College, elected to the Galle Municipal Council. He ended his career as the Ceylon’s High Commissioner in Australia.

1931 — Mahinda College Scout Troop represented by B. Piyadasa de Silva, at the International Scout Jamboree held at Arrow Park, England.

1933 — The Patron Saint of Galle Cricket, E. M. Karunaratne (E. M. K.) of the Galle Cricket Club, elected President of the Ceylon Cricket Association.

1935 – The first aeroplane seen at Galle.

1937 – The first Cricketer from Galle, to play for the All Ceylon Cricket Team D. D. Jayasinghe of Mahinda College.

1938 – Mohamed Macan Markar of Galle, the first Muslim in Ceylon, to be knighted.

1939 – i). The first Mayor of Galle elected – W. Dahanayake.

ii). The first Sinhala speech in the Galle Municipal Council made by Muh. A. William Wijeratne.

1940 – i). Ananda Samarakoon’s National Anthem first sung at Mahinda College.

ii). Mayor W. Dahanayake declared May Day a holiday for the Municipal Workers, long before 1956.

iii). A group of scouts of the St. Aloysius College, Galle, scaled 14.700 feet of the Himalayan Mountain range.

1942 – The first Muslim Mayor of Ceylon, A.I.H.A. Wahab, elected at Galle.

1953 – i). The demise of the founding father of hydro electricity in Ceylon, D.J. Wimalasurendra, who was born at Muhandiramgewatta, Galwadugoda in Galle.

ii). The All Ceylon Buddhist Congress holds sessions at Galle.

iii). Wicketkeeper W. B. Bennett, playing for Mahinda College against the Galle Cricket Club, dismissed all 10 batsmen, in one innings to establish a world record.

1955 – The last English G.A. of Galle, R.H.D. Manders assumes duties.

1956 – Galle gets a new Town Hall.

1958 – W.M. Neil de Silva of Galle, captains the Ceylon Athletic Team.

1959 – The Galle MP, Dr. W. Dahanayake, assumes duties as the Prime Minister of Ceylon.

1961 – Yuri Gagarin, the first Soviet Cosmonaut, visits Galle.

1963 – The Galle Cricket Club wins the ‘Daily News Trophy’.

1964 – National Independence Celebrations held at Galle.

1967 – i). Galle Municipal Council turns 100 years old.

ii). The first ‘Cricket Stamp’ issued. Cricket enthusiasts will be interested to know that Galle has a claim to Sri Lanka’s First Cricket Stamp. The 25 cent stamp issued in 1967 to commemorate the Centenary of the Galle Municipal Council which depicts a large area of the Esplanade, has been included in the category of cricket stamps by philatelists.

1969 – Galle Fort declared an Archaeological Reserve.

1970 – Dr. Cyril Ponnamperuma of Galle, was the first Ceylonese to handle the precious lunar soil, when the Apollo astronauts returned from their journey to the moon.

1992 – Galle city declared a World Heritage site.

 

Some phrases synonymous with Galle

 

1. Weda bari unath gama Galley

(One who tries to live by the reputation alone)

2. Ikkai mai galu giya

Ikka giya mang awa

(When one gets hiccup, one of the practises at Galle is to sip water seven times, while reciting the above stanza in one’s head. It is said to be an instant cure).

3. Wedath ahaki

Gamath Gaaley

(A good worker also hailing from Galle).

4. Galu giya aawe netho

(Refers to the disappearance of youth at the 1971 insurrection. With grateful thanks, to Prins Gunasekera, the then MP for Habaraduwa)

5. Galle Legs

It is a type of filariasis brought to our country by a Chinese called ‘Chiang Kai’ who had come with General Cheng Ho, way back in 1409 A.D.

6. Gaalley kollo bohoma vasai

Ung hapuwath Naaga visai

Yakada kandan dekata navai

Dekata nawala thunata kadai

(The boys of Galle are very dangerous

If they bite you, it’ll be like a snake bite!

They can bend iron girders!

Bend them in two and break them into three

7. Galle Face Green

The name brings back nostalgic memories of native Galle.

8. Some Landmarks of Galle

i. Pacha Gaha (Fibber’s tree)

The space under this tree was akin to the world famous Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park, London, the difference being that in addition to people who wanted to get something off their chest, minor politicos, political aspirants, agitators, ‘Kavi Kola- karayas’ (poets of sorts who recited and distributed their work written in sheets of paper), magicians, astrologers, itinerant vendors of instant cures for everything from the common cold to snake bites, would also extol the virtues of their wares here. It is now no more, bowing to the Law of Impermanence.

 

ii. Moda Ela (Fool-cut canal)

The fool-cut canal. It was cut by the British, at Galle to drain inland water to the sea. However, on completion, it was found that instead of water flowing to the sea, sea water was flowing inland. The people then started calling it the ‘Moda Ela’. It exists to this day and functions with a pumping system.

 

A poem written by teacher, A.B. Dionysius de Silva

 

Galu Pura

 

Sweet city of Ruhuna, adorned by ramparts,

Galu Pura of traditional fame;

How glorious thine enthralling vistas

Vying with each other to exalt thy name.

 

Leaving their ancient stately heritage

Portuguese and Dutch in by-gone days

Furnished us with landmarks, tarnished by age

Standing as sentinels in diverse ways.

 

Skirted by mighty Roomassala ridge

With well known Unawatuna hard by seen

Fringing the ramparts – the butterfly bridge

Depict a gracefully picturesque scene.

 

Splendid record Galu Pura did hold,

In scenic beauty, second to none

Gigantic clock tower, as monument bold

Venture to kiss the clouds in fun.

 

Embellishing Ruhuna’s annals with grandeur

Graced by educationists of Olcott’s fame,

Of pandits, scholars, philanthropists of lustre

And Premier Dahanayake appending his name.

 

Gone are the renowned ‘Galle Bulath Vita’

The famous ‘Pacha Gaha’ honoured of yore

Veterans of Galle, now sigh with pity

Bowing to law of impermanence – they’re no more.



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South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and what it means for SL

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At the head table (L to R): High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in South Africa Prof. Gamini Gunawardena, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya and Executive Director LKI Dr. D.L. Mendis.

State circles in Sri Lanka have begun voicing the need for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for the country, on the lines of South Africa’s historic TRC, and the time could not be more appropriate for a comprehensive discussion in Sri Lanka on the questions that are likely to arise for the country as a result of launching such an initiative. There is no avoiding the need for all relevant stakeholders to deliberate on what it could mean for Sri Lanka to usher a TRC of its own.

Fortunately for Sri Lanka, the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI), Colombo, took on the responsibility of initiating public deliberations on what a TRC could entail for Sri Lanka. A well-attended round table forum towards this end was held at the LKI on November 25 and many were the vital insights it yielded on how Sri Lanka should go about the crucial task of bringing about enduring ethnic peace in Sri Lanka through a home-grown TRC. A special feature of the forum was the on-line participation in it of South African experts who were instrumental in making the TRC initiative successful in South Africa.

There was, for example, former Minister of Constitutional Affairs and Communication of South Africa Roelf Meyer, who figured as Chief Representative of the white minority National Party government in the multi-party negotiations of 1993, which finally led to ending apartheid in South Africa. His role was crucial in paving the way for the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994. Highlighting some crucial factors that contributed towards South Africa’s success in laying the basis for ethnic reconciliation, Meyer said that there ought to be a shared need among the antagonists to find a negotiated solution to their conflict. They should be willing to resolve their issues. Besides, the principle needs be recognized that ‘one negotiates with one’s enemies’. These conditions were met in South Africa.

Meyer added that South Africa’s TRC was part of the country’s peace process. Before the launching of the TRC a peace agreement among the parties was already in place. Besides, an interim constitution was licked into shape by then. The principle agreed to by the parties that, ‘We will not look for vengeance but for reconciliation’, not only brought a degree of accord among the conflicting parties but facilitated the setting-up of the TRC.

Meyer also pointed out that the parties to the conflict acted with foresight when they postponed considering the question of an amnesty for aggressors for the latter part of the negotiations. If an amnesty for perceived aggressors ‘was promised first, we would never have had peace’, he explained.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fanie Du Toit, Senior Fellow of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, South Africa, in his presentation said that the restoration of the dignity of the victims in the conflict is important. The realization of ethnic peace in South Africa was a ‘victim-centric’ process. Hearing out the victim’s point of view became crucial. Very importantly, the sides recognized that ‘apartheid was a crime against humanity’. These factors made the South African TRC exercise a highly credible one.

The points made by Meyer and Du Toit ought to prompt the Sri Lankan state and other parties to the country’s conflict to recognize what needs to be in place for the success of an ethnic peace process of their own. A challenge for the Sri Lankan government is to ban racism in all its manifestations and to declare racism a crime against humanity. For starters, is the Lankan government equal to this challenge? If this challenge goes unmet bringing ethnic reconciliation to Sri Lanka would prove an impossible task.

Lest the Sri Lankan government and other relevant sections to the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict forget, reconciliation in South Africa was brought about, among other factors, by truth-telling by aggressors and oppressors. In its essentials, the South African TRC entailed the aggressors owning to their apartheid-linked crimes in public before the Commission. In return they were amnestied and freed of charges. Could Sri Lanka’s perceived aggressors measure up to this challenge? This question calls for urgent answering before any TRC process is gone ahead with.

Making some opening remarks at the forum, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya said, among other things, that the LKI discussion set the tone for the setting up of a local TRC. He said that the latter is important because future generations should not be allowed to inherit Sri Lanka’s ethnic tangle and its issues. Ethnic reconciliation is essential as the country goes into the future. He added that the ‘Aragalaya’ compelled the country to realize its past follies which must not be repeated.

In his closing remarks, former Minister of Public Works of South Africa and High Commissioner of South Africa to Sri Lanka ambassador Geoffrey Doidge said that Sri Lanka’s TRC would need to have a Compassionate Council of religious leaders who would be catalysts in realizing reconciliation. Sri Lanka, he said, needs to seize this opportunity and move ahead through a consultative process. All sections of opinion in the country need to be consulted on the core issues in reconciliation.

At the inception of the round table, Executive Director, LKI, Dr. D. L. Mendis making some welcome remarks paid tribute to South Africa’s former President Nelson Mandela for his magnanimous approach towards the white minority and for granting an amnesty to all apartheid-linked offenders. He also highlighted the role played by Bishop Desmond Tutu in ushering an ‘Age of Reconciliation’.

In his introductory remarks, High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in South Africa Prof. Gamini Gunawardena said, among other things, that TRCs were not entirely new to Sri Lanka but at the current juncture a renewed effort needed to be made by Sri Lanka towards reconciliation. Sri Lanka should aim at its own TRC process, he said.

During Q&A Roelf Meyer said that in South Africa there was a move away from authoritarianism towards democracy, a democratic constitution was ushered. In any reconciliation process, ensuring human rights should be the underlying approach with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights playing the role of guide. Besides, a reconciliation process must have long term legitimacy.

Dr. Fanie Du Toit said that Bishop Tutu’s commitment to forgiveness made him acceptable to all. Forgiveness is not a religious value but a human one, he said. It is also important to recognize that human rights violations are always wrong.

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Cucumber Face Mask

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*  Cucumber and Aloe Vera

Ingredients

• 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel or juice • 1/4th grated cucumber

Method

Mix the grated cucumber and aloe gel, and carefully apply the mixture on the face and also on your neck.

Leave it on for 15 minutes. Wash with warm water.

* Cucumber and Carrot

Ingredients

• 1 tablespoon fresh carrot juice • 1 tablespoon cucumber paste • 1 tablespoon sour cream

Method

Extract fresh carrot juice and grate the cucumber to get a paste-like consistency. Mix these two ingredients, with the sour cream, and apply the paste on the face.

Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water. (This cucumber face pack is good for dry skin)

* Cucumber and Tomato

Ingredients

• 1/4th cucumber • 1/2 ripe tomato

Method

Peel the cucumber and blend it with the tomato and apply the paste on your face and neck and massage for a minute or two, in a circular motion.

Leave the paste on for 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water. (This cucumber face pack will give you brighter and radiant skin)

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Features

Christmas time is here again…

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The dawning of the month of December invariably reminds me of The Beatles ‘Christmas Time Is Here Again.’ And…yes, today is the 1st of December and, no doubt, there will be quite a lot of festive activities for us to check out.

Renowned artiste, Melantha Perera, who now heads the Moratuwa Arts Forum, has been a busy man, working on projects for the benefit of the public.

Since taking over the leadership of the Moratuwa Arts Forum, Melantha and his team are now ready to present their second project – a Christmas Fair – and this project, I’m told, is being done after a lapse of three years.

They are calling it Christmas Fun-Fair and it will be held on 7th December, at St. Peter’s Church Hall, Koralawella.

A member of the organizing committee mentioned that this event will not be confined to only the singing of Christmas Carols.

“We have worked out a programme that would be enjoyed by all, especially during this festive season.”

There will be a variety of items, where the main show is concerned…with Calypso Carols, as a curtain raiser, followed by Carols sung by Church choirs.

They plan to include a short drama, pertaining to Christmas, and a Comedy act, as well.

The main show will include guest spots by Rukshan Perera and Mariazelle Gunathilake.

Melantha Perera: Second project as President of the Moratuwa Arts Forum

Although show time is at 7.30 pm, the public can check out the Christmas Fun-Fair scene, from 4.30 pm onwards, as there will be trade stalls, selling Christmas goodies – Christmas cakes and sweets, garment items, jewellery, snacks, chocolate, etc.

The fair will not be confined to only sales, as Melantha and his team plan to make it extra special by working out an auction and raffle draw, with Christmas hampers, as prizes.

Santa and ‘Charlie Chaplin’ will be in attendance, too, entertaining the young and old, and there will also be a kid’s corner, to keep thembusy so that the parents could do their shopping.

They say that the main idea in organizing this Christmas Fun-Fair is to provide good festive entertainment for the people who haven’t had the opportunity of experiencing the real festive atmosphere during the last few years.

There are also plans to stream online, via MAF YouTube, to Sri Lankans residing overseas, to enable them to see some of the festive activities in Sri Lanka.

Entrance to the Christmas Fun Failr stalls will be free of charge. Tickets will be sold only for the main show, moderately priced at Rs. 500.

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