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Lakpahana – Keeping the Traditions alive.



Lakpahana the undisputed leader of the Sri Lankan handicraft gifts and souvenir market retails only Sri Lankan made craft. It is a private sector organization started by Desamanya Mrs. Siva Obeyesekere in 1973. Lakpahana has for 46 years been helping local artisans for many decades. Mrs. Obeyesekere has passed all these traditions in craft to her grandson Dhevan de Saram just as the traditional artisans pass on their crafts and skills. Lakpahana is a keeper of these traditions. Many artisans depend on Lakpahana to keep the crafts and traditions alive. The simple motto which Lakpahana functions on is giving joy, by keeping traditions alive.

Lakpahana connects the discerning customer with many extraordinary Sri Lankan master artisans. Creative artisans have the freedom to make beautiful original crafts. Discerning customers have the unique opportunity of purchasing hand made products of quality at affordable prices. They have the joy of helping to nurture and elevate the crafts of Sri Lankan artisans. Lakpahana safeguards the artisans. Each product bought by a customer will give the artisan financial and motivational strength to carry on these age old crafts.

The artisans keep alive the traditional skills whilst infusing modern designs created by the designers involved at Lakpahana. Lakpahana therefore showcases local skills and talents through innovative products that appeal to international requirements. In the coming years we are looking forward to increase our satisfied customer base and increase and improve the sustainability of Sri Lankan crafts people.

Lakpahana is situated in Colombo 07, across from the Colombo Race Course. It has quickly gained popularity amongst customers for its wide array of Sri Lankan Handicrafts, offering an extensive range of choices for local and foreign customers.

Sri Lankan handicrafts production has been traditionally handed from generation to generation. It has strong linkage to the environment to the way of life, to the history, culture of the island and ceremonial ritual and daily life. It consists of many different products made out many different raw materials.

Folk crafts of a country also reveal a historical process of evolution in relations to the concept quality, techniques and material used. Craftsman attached to Lakpahana have earned an international reputation for quality, originality, variety of designs and motifs. Most of the finished products are fascinating expression of local concepts. The organization has won many UNESCO excellence awards for its products.

Basically the handicrafts products made in Sri Lanka are produced and patterned based on natural resources that are easily available in the country. In addition, due to the multi-racial composition of its citizens various types of craft products can be found and produced simultaneously. One of the main objectives of the Lakpahana is diversity and preservation of Sri Lankan’s handicrafts. It contributes in nurturing the heart, mind and soul of the craftspeople, artisans and artists in their pursuit of making traditional and contemporary crafts. Crafts are the symbols of a particular culture, because of that Lakpahana works to promote crafts and nurture craftsmen.

Lakpahana is a store which has exquisite silverware, silver jewellery, elegant brassware and pewter ware, beautifully patterned dumbara weaving mats, ladies handbags, etc. delicate lacquer ware ,intricate wood carvings, reed & rush ware, handloom items, embroidery, lace work, batik, educational toys, painted wooden wall hangings are some of the better known handicrafts.

Mat weaving is a craft, which is an old craft and exemplifies the cultural aspect. The origins, traditions and present form of the art of mat weaving using rush and reed dates back many centuries. In the early Stone Age people utilized the natural resources around them in order to meet the requirements of their day to day lives, be it hides for clothing, branches for roofing, reed for production of mats to sleep on.

Reed can be classified as a grass and is found growing amongst wetlands and marshy areas. In bygone days, paddy farmers would always have a plot of reed plants amidst their paddy field. A crop of this reed was used to produce baskets, sacks, mats, food covers and a host of other everyday items. Another aspect is that reed is long lasting and durable. Reed is the sole raw material in the production of mats in Sri Lanka. The growth of reed covers all directions in Sri Lanka, from Jaffna in the north to Hambanthota in the Deep South. The health benefits of sleeping on a reed mat are many. Firstly, reed mat placed on a flat surface, offers, critical support and comfort that is needed by the spine. The combination of using both hands and brain in weaving is said to be of immense therapeutic benefit.

The mat is not only a household utility item. It is an artifact. The Sri Lankan handmade mat has been decorated with various motifs from immemorial times. The motifs are called “Rata” in Sinhala and the mat woven with the motifs are called “Rata Pedura” (Decorated Mat). Among the traditional motifs there are floral motifs, animal motifs, geometrical motifs and also several miscellaneous motifs. Some of these Traditional motifs are “Samadaramal ratawa, Nelummal ratawa, Atapethimal ratawa, Mirismal ratawa, Hansaputtuwa, Makuluwa ratawa, Muwa ratawa, Vankagiriya ratawa, Diyarali ratawa, Katuru ratawa, Alli ratawa, Wellawehum ratawa, Kathira ratawa and Panimal ratawa, etc.” There also mat decorated with the letters of Sinhala alphabet and the English alphabet as well as numerals. What is significant in the weaving of these intricate motifs are that they are woven without using any tool or an instrument. These “Rata pedura” mats are available at Lakpahana.

Culture also includes traditional island sweetmeats. When searching for the most delicious and freshly made traditional treats. Head over to Lakpahana and indulge. Choosing from a variety of items such as stuffed veralu, coconut toffee, kalu dodol, narang kavum and unduwel. The items are made fresh on a daily basis. Everyday favourites such as murukku, marshmallows, aasmi, kokis, kavum and mung kavum are available in addition to neatly wrapped packages of love cake, bibikkan and jaggery cake.

Lunu dehi as is a popularly known is an integral part of Sri Lankan cuisine and even culture. These are just perfect for the festive season or even as a gift. Cake orders can be placed too. Tala bola, jiggery, coconut and milk toffees stock the shelves in addition to the other yummy treats. Lakpahana also has freshly prepared lamprais on orders. Other items available at Lakpahana include jars of bees’ honey (50ml/100ml), kithul jaggery, kithul treacle, lime pickle, seeni sambol and chutneys.

Lakpahana is open every day. From 9.30 a.m. – 6.30 p.m. Monday to Saturday. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sundays and holidays.

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Prelates launch legal battle against New Fortress



by A. J. A. Abeynayake

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera yesterday filed a fundamental rights petition before the Supreme Court against the transfer of shares of the Yugadanavi LNG Power Plant in Kerawalapitiya to a US energy firm.

The petition seeks an order preventing the US firm New Fortress Inc. from obtaining the LNG supply contract.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, other members of the Cabinet, West Coast Power Limited, the owner of the 310 MW Yugadanavi Power Plant, the US-based company New Fortress Energy and the Attorney General are among the 54 respondents named in the FR petition.

The petition requests the court to issue an order to nullify the Cabinet decision on transferring state-owned shares of the Yugadanavi power plant to the US company.

The petition states that the decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers to transfer 40% stake in the company owning the Yugadanavi Power Plant to the US firm in question was not justified. It also says the Cabinet failed to focus on issues such as the national economy and national security before taking the relevant decisions.

The petitioners have requested the Court to declare that their fundamental rights as well as the rights of the entire citizenry and their future generations guaranteed to them under Article 12(1) of the Constitution have been infringed and/or are continuing to be infringed and/or are in imminent danger of being infringed by the actions of the Respondents with regard to the Yugadanavi deal.

They have requested the Court to quash the decision of the Cabinet authorising the procurement of LNG from the 53rd respondent – the New Fortress Energy.

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Financial crisis so acute teachers’ demands cannot be met – SLPP Chairman



300,000 entering schools for first time this year among those victimised

By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP Chairman and Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday (18) emphasised that the worsening financial crisis experienced by the country was so acute the government wasn’t in a position to grant the salary increase sought by school principals and teachers.

Prof. Peiris, who served as the Education Minister till August this year said that the public realised the government lacked the wherewithal to meet the striking teachers’ demands. The academic said so at the weekly SLPP media briefing at the party office in Battaramulla.

Responding to media queries, Prof. Peiris stressed that the government expected the striking teachers to facilitate re-opening of schools on a staggered basis beginning Oct 21 (Thursday). The Minister indicated that striking unions shouldn’t expect to settle the salary issue on their terms as the government lacked the means even if it wanted to do so.

Referring to the rapid deterioration of public finances in the wake of Covid-19 eruption in early 2020, Prof. Peiris said that Budget 2022 was presented amidst an extremely difficult time.

The top SLPP spokesperson reiterated the government’s commitment to grant strikers’ demand in two stages as announced by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at a meeting with striking unions at Temple Trees. Premier Rajapaksa on Oct 12 told a delegation of striking unions that the government would pay one third of the increase through the Budget 2022 and the remaining two in the following year’s budget.

The Premier’s Office quoted him as having told the delegates that the sharp drop in government income deprived the administration of an opportunity to grant the increase. Striking unions want the government to settle the issues immediately in one go.

Prof. Peiris appealed to those who have been on strike for 100 days to resume teaching. The student community really suffered due to the Covid 19 eruption and further delay in resuming studies would be catastrophic, Prof. Peiris said, underscoring the importance of restoring normalcy as about 300,000 would go to schools for the first time in their life.

Prof. Peiris said that schools that conduct classes from Grade 1 to 5 and those with less than 200 students would be re-opened on Oct 21. According to the minister, approximately 3,800 schools would be re-opened as scheduled.

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Lankan authorities must end violence and discrimination against Muslims, says AI



Kyle Ward, AI’s Deputy Secretary General

The Lankan Muslim community has suffered consistent discrimination, harassment and violence, since 2013, culminating in the adoption of government policies explicitly targeting the minority group, said Amnesty International, in a new report published yesterday.

The report titled From Burning Houses to Burning Bodies: Anti-Muslim Harassment, Discrimination and Violence in Sri Lanka, traces the development of anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka since 2013 amid surging Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism. This discrimination has evolved from a rising series of mob attacks committed with impunity, into government policies explicitly discriminating against Muslims, including the forced cremation of Muslim Covid-19 victims and current proposals to ban both the niqab (face veil) and madrasas (religious schools).

“While anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka is nothing new, the situation has regressed sharply in recent years. Incidents of violence against Muslims, committed with the tacit approval of the authorities, have occurred with alarming frequency. This has been accompanied by the adoption by the current government of rhetoric and policies that have been openly hostile to Muslims,” said Kyle Ward, Amnesty International’s Deputy Secretary General.

“The Sri Lankan authorities must break this alarming trend and uphold their duty to protect Muslims from further attacks, hold perpetrators accountable and end the use of government policies to target, harass and discriminate against the Muslim community.”

Incidents of violence towards Muslims have risen in frequency and intensity since 2013, with a series of flashpoints in which attackers and those responsible for hate speech have enjoyed impunity for their actions.

This escalating hostility began with the anti-halal campaign of that year, when Sinhala Buddhist nationalist groups successfully lobbied to end the halal certification of food, which demarks food permissible for consumption by Muslims, in accordance with Islamic scripture and customs. The campaign gave rise to a number of attacks on mosques and Muslim businesses, with the lack of accountability for those responsible acting as a signal to others that acts of violence against Muslims could be committed with impunity.

The following year, anti-Muslim riots in the southern coastal town of Aluthgama began after a Sinhala Buddhist nationalist group held a rally in the town. Here too, perpetrators of violence enjoyed impunity and authorities failed to deliver justice to victims.

Despite a new government in 2015, which promised justice and accountability for ethnic and religious minorities, attacks against Muslims continued to occur. Shortly after the election, anti-Muslim mob violence flared in the southern coastal town of Ginthota in 2017, while similar violence was seen in 2018 in Digana and Ampara, towns in the central and eastern provinces respectively. Not only did the perpetrators escape accountability, victims and witnesses alleged the police and armed forces did not offer sufficient protection or act to prevent the violence.

Hostility towards Muslims increased markedly after more than 250 people were killed in coordinated suicide attacks committed by a local Islamist group and claimed by the Islamic State on Easter Sunday 2019.

Following these attacks, on 13 May 2019, Muslims in several towns in the North-Western Province of Sri Lanka came under attack during Ramadan, one of the holiest months in the Muslim calendar. Mosques across the country were also attacked and a spate of ‘hate speech’ posts and anti-Muslim vitriol was seen on social media. Emergency regulations rushed through by the authorities were also used to arbitrarily arrest hundreds of Muslims in the wake of the attacks.

Since taking office, the current government has continued to target and scapegoat the Muslim population to distract from political and economic issues.

This was evident in the mandatory cremation policy on the disposal of the bodies of Covid-19 victims, which was implemented despite cremation being expressly forbidden in Islam, and a lack of scientific evidence to substantiate the claims that burying victims would further the spread of the disease.

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