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Improvements to Kelani Valley Railway – A response from a laymon



BY Dr Janaka Ratnasiri

This piece is written in response to a letter published by a former General Manager of Sri Lanka Railways (SLR) in The Island of 29.10.2020 under the heading “Improvements to Kelani Valley Railway”, highlighting a difference of opinion as to whether the stretch up to Homagama should be elevated or not.


In response to an Island Editorial titled “Ailing Railways” which appeared on 02.12.2015, the writer wrote a piece proposing a solution to ailing railways which was published in The Island of 08.12.2015. This piece may be accessed via: In the Budget for 2016, the government has allocated a sum of LKR 1.5 billion to modernize the Kelani Valley (KV) railway line. The writer proposed that once the KV line is modernized, it could be leased to a private party to provide an upgraded railway service as a public-private venture.

He also said in this piece that “With the increase of frequency of trains, one problem one could envisage is the congestion that could be created due to frequent closure of railway crossings. The solution for this is to build fly-overs at every point where a major highway crosses a railway line. The government could get the assistance of the private sector here too by getting them to build metal flyovers similar to what has been erected at Nugegoda and Dehiwala. They have to just copy what is installed”. However, there was no news that any action was taken to spend this money for improving the KV line.



In the writer’s piece referred to above, he said that “A few decades ago, the narrow gauge of KV line was broadened to the standard gauge at Sri Lankan Government expense but the service was not improved concurrently. Only the dilapidated aged coaches and power sets operate on this line which run infrequently. According to the railway schedules posted in the Railway Dept. (RD) website, only four trains operate from Avissawella to Fort daily, three in the morning and one in the afternoon, while five trains operate from Fort to Avissawella, three in the morning and two in the evening. It takes about two and half hours to cover the distance of 61 km, which is running at an average speed of 24 km/h.

At such operating conditions, it is not surprising that most passengers, except those travelling on cheap government season tickets, prefer to travel by bus despite they are crowded and the service is poor. The High Level Road (HLR) is almost saturated with buses and there is no room to increase their number plying on this road, without slowing down the existing traffic further. Hence, shifting of bus commuters to railway is necessary. However, even after any modernization of the track envisaged after spending the allocated Rs. 1.5 billion, there is no guarantee that the KV line will be provided with additional rolling stock and a better service to the commuters”. This situation has not improved during the last five years.



Sri Lanka sought a loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2016 for assistance to modernize the Colombo Suburban Railways covering stretches from Colombo up to Rambukkana, Kalutara, Negombo and Awissavella. The ADB agreed to lend USD 160 million on concessionary terms and the agreement was signed in July 2016 to undertake feasibility studies and detailed design of the system.

Already a sum of USD 10 million has been mobilized for preliminary work. The segment on the KV line included rehabilitation, capacity upgrade, modernization, and electrification of the KV line between Maradana and Padukka with double tracks in this section. After studying several options, it has been decided to have the section of 20 km from Maradana to Malapalla elevated. The section between Padukka and Avissawella will remain as a single track, following mostly the existing track. (See

Under this programme, the design of infrastructure including railway stations, tracks and other facilities including electrification and communications are underway according to a video clip available in the above site. The preparation of detailed designs and bid documents are expected to be completed in December 2020. A copy of the final feasibility report of the project is available on

Further, a detailed socio-economic survey has been conducted to identify affected families living on railway reservation land between Maligawatte and Malapalla and their resettlement is planned including construction of multi-story housing for them, both in Colombo and in Malapalla. The Cabinet approval was granted for the project on 17.10.2017 and to set apart houses built by the Urban Development Authority to resettle the families encroaching the lands to be used for the development of the KV Railway Line.



According to the above feasibility report, electric multiple units (EMU) will operate during peak hours at seven minutes intervals between Maradana and Makumbura North (a new station) and at 14 minutes intervals between Makumbura North and Padukka. Diesel multiple units (DMU) will operate at 30 min intervals between Padukka and Avissawella until such time this section is electrified. The travel time from Padukka to Maradana during peak hours is estimated to be 64 minutes with stopping at all stations.

Each coach could accommodate 200 passengers, but only 40 seating capacity will be provided in each coach. Seats are fitted longitudinally leaving more room for standing passengers. Each EMU will comprise 10 or 12 coaches, with capacity of 2,000 and 2,400 passengers respectively. So, most passengers will have to keep standing during their entire travel. There is provision to operate express trains with stops only at a few major stations.

For the regular traveler, a more desirable option is to have a combination of coaches with longitudinal seats and transverse seats. With the latter, seating capacity will be increased but overall capacity reduced. The coaches with transverse seats could be offered at a higher fare in a different class. Passengers may not mind paying extra fare if they are assured seating for over an hour-long ride from Padukka to Maradana.

The EMUs will be powered by electricity supplied through an overhead catenary system (OCS) operating at 25 kV connected by a pantograph to the coaches using rails as the return path. The project proposes to feed power to the OCS system from the 132 kV grid substations at Pannipitiya and Kosgama. During day time, the national grid has adequate capacity to feed the EMU operations. However, one risk factor is the unexpected power failures in the national grid encountered occasionally, in which event the EMUs will get stranded until power is restored. Perhaps the CEB may be asked to give priority to these two GSSs when restoring power.



The original KV line was built mostly following the contour of the highlands and hence comprised many bends with short radius of curvature. This is unlike the HLR built in late forties by American contractors which was mostly a cut and fill exercise. If one examines the present trace of the KV line up to Makumbura, there are several places where the track could be straightened. According to the Final Feasibility Report, the curves at many of the places seem to have been straightened or curves realigned with larger radii of curvature.

In addition, straightening the stretch between Hokandara Road crossing and Athurugiriya Road crossing will avoid several bends and reduce the distance from 1.83 km to 1.56 km. Further straightening the stretch between the Malabe Road crossing and Makumbura will reduce the distance from 1.56 km to 0.85 km, resulting in an overall reduction of about one km distance.

The stretch between Padukka and Avissawella is supposed to follow the existing track. The railway line between Kosgama and Avissawella crosses the A4 highway at four places. Since it is expected to run trains at 30 min intervals during peak time in this stretch in one direction or at every 15 min if both directions are considered, there will be congestion on the highway unless fly overs are built at these crossings. Alternatively, the track could be re-laid to avoid the crossings altogether.

There is also the ambiguity with regard to the section to be elevated. The Final Feasibility Report says it is up to Kottawa in some places and as Makumbura North in other places. The project website gives it as Malapalla. The former GM says that the railway line to be elevated is up to Homagama.



Once the new system is built by the foreign contractors, it has to be operated and managed by a competent organization. Being the owner of the project, SLR may want to do that, particularly because all trains operating in Sri Lanka are required to be driven and guarded by SLR staff according to the law. However, the question is are they the most suitable for the job? The archaic rules and regulations, the attitude of staff, lack of interest in passenger care, low level of maintenance and neglect of existing tracks, dominance of trade unions in operative matters would necessitate the government to rethink on who should be entrusted with the task of operating and managing the new system.

The SLR is dominated by Mechanical Engineers. Their inability to operate and maintain electronically controlled trains was amply demonstrated in the case of the 10 Locomotives from Alstom of France imported in 2000. After a short spell of operation, they developed various problems and efforts made to get them attended to by the manufacturers were not successful. Though the manufacturer trained the SLR staff in maintenance and gave them maintenance kits, it was reported that they did not have the background knowledge to assimilate the training given and as a result most of the locomotives had to be taken off service (Ceylon Today, 08.02.2014). Although SLR found these locomotives unsuitable here, India entered into a contract with Alstom to manufacture 800 locomotives in India, delivering 100 units annually.

It is therefore imperative that the new train system be leased to a private party to operate jointly with SLR drivers and guards, and the private party given the full responsibility for its operation and management including maintenance. The private party could be even a foreign company having the experience in managing similar railway systems in their own countries. This could be tried out at least initially until such time a local company staff are trained and ready to take over.



The former GM speaks about “the new infrastructure provided should be able to be utilized for any future extensions beyond Avissawella”. The website of the Colombo Suburban Railway Project ( has described several new railway lines to be built in the foreseeable future. One is the construction of a railway line from Kurunegala to Habarana via Dambulla, a distance of 81 km, for which the Feasibility Study has been completed. Another is the extension of KV line from Padukka to Nonagama via Ingiriya, Ratnapura and Embilipitiya to link with the Southern railway line. It is noteworthy that this trace bypasses Avissawella.

The KV line was first built from Colombo to Yatiyantota via Avissawella during 1900–1902 to serve the plantation community in Sabaragamuwa. It was branched off at Avissawella and extended up to Opanayaka via Ratnapura in 1912 (Wikipedia). Hence, today there is no necessity to retrace the old track to Ratnapura via Avissawella when there is a shorter route available via Ingiriya.

Furthermore, this stretch is heavily encroached and it will be a difficult task to claim it back. Even the Ruwanpura Expressway is planned to traverse via Ingiriya to Ratnapura. However, such investment on building new tracks is justified only if investments are made to acquire the necessary rolling stock to maintain a regular service.



The project feasibility report gives the estimated investment required for the project as USD 1,424 million (M) comprising USD 700 M for track construction, USD 250 M for rolling stock, and USD 300 M for other infrastructure development and feasibility studies. Financial analysis of the project shows that project cash flows are not sufficient to fully recover the investment cost of USD 1.42 billion or LKR 263 billion.

According to the feasibility report, even though the Project cash flows are not sufficient to fully recover the total investment and associated cost of funding, it could recover approximately 21% of the investment cost and related cost of funding under 30-year analysis and it can go up to 27% with 50-year financial evaluation. Recovering the rest of the investment costs and paying the related cost of funding could not be made with project cash flows generated thus the government needs budgetary allocation from common public funds for the same which is the usual case with public sector railway projects in many countries.

On the other hand, the project operational and maintenance costs and replacement costs can easily be recovered with railway tickets and other income of the KV line. Accordingly, the project does not require government subsidies for meeting operating costs. It is also expected to generate wide economic, environmental and social benefits which cannot be monetized directly. It is therefore envisaged that funding could be raised through loans from commercial financial institutions and multilateral agencies in addition to government contributions.



Some independent consultants, including the former GM, are now questioning the desirability of elevating of the stretch from Maradana to Malapalla. It is surprising why these professionals are now making objections for elevating the track up to Malapalla at this late stage. He seems to be concerned about the high cost of the project, “the return on investment, and the impact of the solution to the country as a whole, in relation to financing of foreign loans”.


The former GM says “I believe there were two main excuses to recommend elevation; one was the acquisition of land or let me mention in a more prudent way, it is relocation of encroachments presently occupying railway land, and the second is the number of level crossings presently at-grade”. He goes to great length explaining how level crossings could be built economically in the event the tracks are laid on the surface including building fly overs and under passes quoting practices in other countries.

One excuse he gives against elevated line is that elevation “requires the provision of escalators and elevators for stations in the elevated sections required to be maintained, and in case they are not maintained, the general public will suffer when they have to climb 7m (the height of two floors of a building) to the station platform”. Escalators are used world over for mass transport of people between different elevations, though the former Railways GM thought they are not good enough for Sri Lanka. That may be the reason why none of our railway stations have any escalators installed.

Some experts are of the view that the electrification of sections on the main and coastal lines should have been given priority rather than developing the KV line. See The lobby against the project is so strong that they were trying to influence the ADB which certainly does not sound ethical for professionals. A more appropriate course of action would have been to get it sorted out internally ( It appears that these moves have resulted in getting the project stalled.



A loan of USD 160 million from the ADB has enabled the SLR to study modernization of its suburban railway lines including their electrification which has been long overdue. Under this project the KV line up to Makumbura North will be elevated, with double tracks up to Padukka. The track beyond Padukka up to Avissawella will remain single track without electrification but with improvements. Detailed designs are being carried out including resettlement of displaced families. It is expected that the project will be implemented soon despite objections raised by some professionals on frivolous grounds.

It is also important to hand over the operation and management of the new railway to an experienced and competent party until such time the local personnel are trained and ready to take over. With objections raised against the project by certain quarters, it is sincerely hoped that the government will not abort the project, the way the Light Rail Transit project was aborted recently. It is expected the government will be able to secure funding for the project through offers made by foreign ambassadors from friendly countries and various visiting foreign dignitaries for assistance to develop the country.


Religious nationalism suffers notable setback in India



People casting their votes in the recent Lok Sabha poll in India

Democratic opinion the world over could take heart from the fact that secularism is alive and well in India; the South Asian region’s most successful democracy. While it is indeed remarkable for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to win a third consecutive term as head of government in India’s recent Lok Sabha election, what is of greater significance is the fact that the polls featured a resounding defeat for religious nationalism.

Consequently, India’s secular credentials remain intact. Secularism, which eschews identity politics of all kinds, including religious nationalism is, after all, a cornerstone of democracy and secularism has been a chief strength of India. The defeat of religious nationalism, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, is a triumph for not only the democratic forces of India but for their counterparts the world over.

It was plain to see that the Bharathiya Janata Party under P.M. Modi was going the extra mile to placate Hindu nationalist opinion in Uttar Pradesh and outside through the construction of an eye-catching Ram temple in the state, for example, but the vote-catching strategy has visible failed as the polls results in the state indicate. For, the number of seats won by the BJP in the state has shrunk dramatically. In fact, the BJP was resoundingly defeated in the very constituency where the temple was constructed.

Constructive criticism of religious nationalism should not be considered an indictment of the religions concerned. Hinduism is one of the world’s most profound religions and it would sustain itself and thrive regardless of whether vote-hungry political parties champion its cause or otherwise. However, the deployment of any religion in the acquiring and aggrandizement of power by political forces calls for criticism since it amounts to a gross abuse of religion. Religious nationalism is an example of such abuse and warrants decrying in democratic states.

Unfortunately, religious nationalism is rampant in South Asia and it is most alive and well in Sri Lanka. And to the degree to which religious nationalism thrives in Sri Lanka, to the same extent could Sri Lanka be considered as deviating from the cardinal principles and values of democratic governance. It is obligatory on the part of those posing as Sri Lanka’s national leaders to reject religious nationalism and take the country along the path of secularism, which essentially denotes the separation of politics and religion. Thus far, Sri Lanka’s political class has fought shy of taking up this challenge and by doing so they have exposed the country as a ‘facade democracy’.

Religion per se, though, is not to be rejected, for, all great religions preach personal and societal goodness and progress. However, when religious identities are abused by political actors and forces for the acquiring and consolidation of power, religious nationalism comes to the fore and the latter is more destructive than constructive in its impact on societies. It is for these reasons that it is best to constitutionally separate religion from politics. Accordingly, secularism emerges as essential for the practise of democracy, correctly conceived.

The recent Indian Lok Sabha poll was also notable for the role economic factors played in the determining of its final results. Once again, Uttar Pradesh was instructive. It is reported that the high cost of living and unemployment, for instance, were working to the detriment of the ruling BJP. That is, ‘Bread’ or economic forces were proving decisive in voter preferences. In other words, economics was driving politics. Appeals to religion were proving futile.

Besides, it was reported that the opposition alliance hit on the shrewd strategy of projecting a bleaker future for depressed communities if the BJP ‘juggernaut’ was allowed to bulldoze its way onward without being checked. For, in the event of it being allowed to do so, the concessions and benefits of positive discrimination, for instance, being enjoyed by the weak would be rolled back in favour of the majority community. Thus, was the popular vote swung in the direction of the opposition alliance.

Accordingly, the position could be taken that economic forces are the principal shaping influences of polities. Likewise, if social stability is to be arrived at redistributive justice needs to be ushered in by governments to the extent possible. Religious nationalism and other species of identity politics could help populist political parties in particular to come to power but what would ensure any government’s staying power is re-distributive justice; that is, the even distribution of ‘Bread’ and land. In the absence of the latter factors, even populism’s influence would be short lived.

The recent Indian Lok Sabha elections could be said to have underscored India’s standing as a principal democracy. Democracy in India should be seen as having emerged stronger than ever as a result of the poll because if there were apprehensions in any quarter that BJP rule would go unchallenged indefinitely those fears have been proved to be baseless.

‘One party rule’ of any kind is most injurious to democracy and democratic forces in India and outside now have the assurance that India would continue to be a commodious and accommodative democracy that could keep democratic institutions and values ticking soundly.

Besides the above considerations, by assuring the region that it would continue with its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, India has underscored her ‘Swing State’ status. That is, she would take on a leadership role in South Asia and endeavor to be an inspirational guide in the region, particularly in respect of democratic development.

As for Sri Lanka, she has no choice but to be on the best of terms with India. Going forward, Sri Lanka would need to take deeply into consideration India’s foreign policy sensitivities. If there is to be an ‘all weather friend’ for Sri Lanka it has to be India because besides being Sri Lanka’s closest neighour it is India that has come to Sri Lanka’s assistance most swiftly in the region in the latter’s hour of need. History also establishes that there are least conflicts and points of friction among democracies.

However, identity politics are bound to continually cast their long shadow over South Asia. For smaller states this would prove a vexatious problem. It is to the extent to which democratic development is seen by countries of the South as the best means of defusing intra-state conflicts born of identity politics that the threat of identity politics could be defused and managed best.

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AKD’s Speech on Rule of Law: Merits and Demerits?



Anura Kumara

by Dr Laksiri Fernando

Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s (AKD) speech as the Leader of the National People’s Power (NPP) at the National Convention organised by the Retired Police Officers Collective on 9 June 2024 is quite promising in terms of establishing or reestablishing rule of law in the country. They have been talking about a ‘system change’ now for some time, and various independent critics and observers were asking the details of this promise, without merely depending on the slogan.

I was fortunate to listen to this speech online and live, through Horawa News, and one weakness or wrong that I immediately observed was its leading phrase ‘Malimawa shows its police power.’ I have no idea about who runs the Horawa but that was not what AKD was quite obviously advocating. “Power’ is not a good word to use in democracy, worst still is the ‘police power.’

State of the State

After an introduction, AKD ventured to explain the ‘state of the State,’ particularly during the last two three years, characterising it as a failed state with inability to pay back loans, to supply necessary medicine to hospitals, and failing to give children a proper education, and when they grow up, proper employment. He strongly characterised the State as in the grips of crooks and criminals (dushithayan saha aparadakaruwan), and the whole society being affected by this situation. He said, “this must be changed, and this to be changed like in all other changes. Sri Lanka should be a State based on rule of law.” Thereafter his speech focused, in detail, on the questions of rule of law. There were several principles that he enunciated.

First, equality before the law. All citizens in the country should be equal before the law. All citizens in the country should be able to go before the law against any discrimination by the implementation of law. He asked, “are we all equal before the law? No. Rich people have one law, and people who have political power have another law. At present, the Department of Police, the Attorney General’s Department and even the Judiciary have become a laughing stock. Let me ask you a question that I have asked once before. “

“Who knew best that Diana Gamage didn’t have citizenship? First, Diana. She knew that she came to the country on a tourist visa and even that visa had expired. Knowing all that, she came to Parliament. Knowing that, she also acted as a state minister. How did she do that? She knew that because of her political power that the law would not apply to her. An ordinary person even will not ride a bicycle without a license. Where is our law?”

“The second person who knew well was Ranil. But he protected her. This type of country cannot go forward. We need a state system which is entirely based on rule of law. I will give you an assurance. I personally or our movement do not have any financial fraudsters or criminals to protect. No underworld, no drug dealers, no rapists, no financial fraudsters, and no criminals to protect. If the existing powers given to the police to curtail these crimes are not enough, under our government, we will create circumstances to strengthen the police.”

Political Interference

AKD outlined some of the crimes and murders which were investigated, and the perpetrators were properly punished within the system. Those included the murder of the Manager of Noori Estate, Hokandara family killing, Killing of Sarath Ambepitiya, etc.

On the other hand, he emphasised the cases like Lasantha Wickrematunge, Eknaligoda murder, assault of journalists like Keith Noyar, Poddalla Jayantha and others that dragged on without a conclusion. Why? His correct answer was political interference. He praised the police but emphasised political interferences that hamper their tasks.

One of the aspects that he neglected was the ethnic bias in criminal investigations and other police matters. Will this be addressed by the NPP? That is my question. For example, I have known J. S. Tissanayagam as a student at Peradeniya who later became a prominent Tamil Journalist. He was abducted, beaten up and charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. There are so many similar cases that were neglected by AKD, and I hope he will rectify his neglect in the coming future. I also failed to identify any Tamil participation in the crowd.

AKD was correct in emphasising that the police have a major role in maintaining stability in society. “If there were no police, no one would be able to pass the Borella junction peacefully” he said. He emphasised correctly, that these premises were established after a long struggle in building up rule of law in society internationally. “These were not there in tribal societies,’ he pointed out. “The leader of the tribe (Rehe nayakeya) did all together,” he said. ‘It was through struggles that separation of powers was established between Parliament to legislate, elected Presidents to execute, and the Judiciary to rule on justice,’ he continued.

“What we can see today is a tendency to go back to tribal society. We need a civilised society. Especially the department of police, criminal investigation and the attorney genera’s department should work independently, efficiently and correctly. It is our task under an NPP government to create these civilised conditions. Today the police department is in a mess due to political interferences.” He gave examples.

“Do we have a proper procedure in recruiting and promoting police officers? No. I know that there are some officers who are constables at recruitment, and also when they retire. We will establish a proper procedure in recruitment and promotions. At present, when change of governments occur, the police officers are punished or promoted. The main task of the police officers is people’s security. However, what they are supposed to do today is patrician (prabhu) security.” He mentioned that he has been an MP since the year 2000 and never sought any police security. He emotionally mentioned the difficulties that police security undergoes with so many difficulties.

Vision for Future?

“Under our government, people’s security is the primary task of the police, and not politician or patrician security. During the last 24 years as an MP, I have never called the police for any assistance. But this is not the case with other MPs. However, I have to say that to eliminate criminals and fraudsters, we will give the police the necessary leadership and encouragement. Today, the MPs consider the police as their servants. I have heard some saying ‘my OIC’ (mage OIC). This is not our attitude. We will preserve the dignity of police officers. They are well trained and educated. They should not be the tools of politicians. Their task is to punish criminality, present and past. There are people who believe their past offenses will be forgotten. But we will not forget.” AKD related a story.

“During the election campaign in 1994, Chandrika Kumaratunga accused the UNP stealing people’s money and property under their government. Vijayapala Mendis has obtained 75 acres of coconut land for two rupees per acre, altogether for Rs. 150. She promised that these crooks would be brought to the Galle Face Green and would be ‘skinned’. People rejoiced and clapped. However, within 7 years, the same Vijayapala Mendis became a Minister in Chandrika’s Cabinet. There are so many examples like that. Perhaps she had forgotten and even the people had forgotten. Ranil Wickremasinghe who accused [Gotabaya Rajapaksa] as the ‘Mastermind of the Easter Sunday attack’ also became the President based on the same Gotabaya mandate.”

There were several other points connected with the above that AKD ventured into taking about 20 more minutes. All are worth reflecting on and even in my case I have not heard them before from politicians. One of his newest arguments was to consider the rule of law, law and order, and equality before the law as the necessary basis of economic development. However, given the necessary word limitations for this article those may be discussed in a future occasion.

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Raffealla Fernando Face of Sri Lanka for Prerna Gupta



It’s not only her name that is famous but her face, too, and I’m referring, of course, to Raffealla Fernando – Founder and CEO at Raffealla Fernando Photography, and Fashion Designer and Stylist at Raffealla – who excels in what she does and shines bright wherever she goes.

Raffealla was in India recently and, I’m told, her face did bright up the fashion scene over there. And, guess what! Raffealla is now the face of Sri Lanka for Prerna Gupta as she expands her unique fashion label to take in Sri Lanka, as well.

Prerna Gupta couture is an award-winning Indian fashion house, from Nagpur, and she creates beautiful sustainable outfits and textiles made out of milk, aloe vera and orange peel, and what Raffealla is wearing in the photographs, on this page, are clothes made out of orange peel, aloe vera and milk.

Prerna Gupta has launched and showcased at reputed fashion shows where celebrities like Vicky Kaushal, Rani Mukherjee, Raj Kumar Arao, Evelyn Sharma, Sana Khan, Kailash Kher, Shankar Mahadevan and Bhapi Leheri have visited and adorned her label.

Says Raffealla: “I feel truly honoured and privileged to be working with a brand like this.”

Sri Lanka’s celebrity was also featured in the leading Bangladesh fashion magazine ‘Fashion People’.

“I’m super hyped because it’s the first time FELLA got featured in an international magazine.”

And FELLA is the brand name for Raffealla’s fashion designs.

Talking about her recent trip to India, she said one of the interesting and colourful fashion projects she did in Mumbai (photography and conceptualization) was connected with Kutch – a district of Gujarat state.

Raffealla went on to say that costumes of Kutch are exquisitely stylized and intricately embroidered.

Dazzling with vibrant colours, flooded with striking mirror work and stunning jewellery, it’s one of the most alluring custumes in India, she said.

“The mirror work and embroidery work forms an integral part of Kutch. Although handicrafts, irrespective of the community or ethnic group to which they belong, remain the same, the workmanship differs.

“In fact, the various communities can be identified by the pattern of handicrafts and dress, or costumes, they are in. For instance, the Garacia Jat women wear only red or black chunis, while Rabari women wear black open blouses, or cholis, with odhnis to cover their heads.

“In the rural areas, the women wear Chaniya choli the whole year, Chaniya choli’s are of many designs and fashion. A typical Kutch costume is incomplete without ‘Abha’ or ‘Kanjari’. ‘Abha’ is the name of the typical choli worn by women folk and ‘Kanjari’ is a long blouse, beautifully embroidered and with mirror work.

“Most men in Kutch wear loose trousers, a long-sleeved under-jacket, and a short coat, a plain or silk-bordered cloth. Normally men prefer white clothes except the Muslims who prefer coloured clothes.”

Raffealla is now ready, and excited, to do it for Prerna Gupta.

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