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Parliament revisited: creation of a magnificent edifice on the Duwa marsh in Kotte Parliament revisited: creation of a magnificent edifice on the Duwa marsh in Kotte

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The structure has a definite Eastern flavour. Bawa commented, “I just wanted the building to fit into the site. You must run with the site, after all, you don’t want to push nature out of the building.”

by Nihal Seneviratne

Wending my way along the old road to what was then known as Kotte, many nostalgic memories keep crowding my mind. This road has now been replaced by a four-lane highway, which leads to the new Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte as the area is now known, along which I commuted for over 33 years.

Most of all I recall the request madeto me by Anandatissa de Alwis, MP for Kotte, to accompany him to view the site for the proposed new Parliament. President Jayewardene had asked the then Speaker to inspect this marshland called Duwa where my friends used to shoot duck a long time ago and assess the suitability of the site.

We had to shed our shoes for gumboots to wade into the marsh. Anandatissa de Alwis was able to report to the president, already totally enamoured by the model of the new Parliament given to him by master architect Geoffrey Bawa, that here was an ideal place for the construction. All credit to Bawa for his enlightened thinking that he could build a Parliament on this marshy site.

On a bright April morning in 1982 at the auspicious hour of 10.13 am, Sri Lanka inaugurated its new capital, Sri Jaywardenepura Kotte to the triumphant sounds of conch shells and reverberating drums. When a third of the construction the new Parliament was done the president followed tradition and deposited nine different gems and other ritual items to invoke the blessings of the deities on the project-

The site popularly known as Kotte would eventually become the sumptuous home of Sri Lankan politicians. The historic Diyawanna Oya, a substantial body of water, was reclaimed from what was once a marshy wasteland. A 300-acre lake was created on which now stands the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

The building was designed by Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s best known architect, and it stands as an elegant embodiment of the rich cultural and aesthetic heritage of this land. The silver plated chandelier, weighing one tonne, in the main chamber and skillfully carved mahogany wall outside the Members’ special entrance stand testimony to his work.

Kotte was a capital of Ceylon in the 15th Century, and taking Parliament there as the centerpiece of a new capital was regarded as a return to the past and a methodical strategy for easing congestion of Colombo.

Today, the city of Colombo is still growing from its relatively small size now hosting a yet growing 1.5 million population. What was intended was to make Sri Jayewardenepura the administrative capital of the country and it was so gazetted. It was to house the diplomatic community, government ministries and offices, hospitals and schools; but this has not happened as originally planned. Anandatissa de Alwis suggested the site to President Jayewardene after being told by Geoffrey Bawa that it was eminently suitable. He said, “if we are going to build a new capital, why not return to the capital of the Kings?”

When the Portuguese arrived in 1505, the shrewd Sinhalese tried to keep Kotte’s proximity to the Colombo port a secret. They led the foreigners through a winding excursion on horseback that stretched over seven miles. But the Portuguese saw through the ploy as they could hear their ship guns boom in the harbour. Hence the popular saying “Parangiya Kotte giya” (How the Portuguese went to Kotte).

The building has a huge copper pitch Kandyan roof to disguise its height. In the main pavilion conclave, layers of space on every level are articulated by rectangles of dark wood and glass. Even the stucco columns on the ground floor are unadorned and fuse easily with the simple wooden beams above.

The structure has a definite Eastern flavour. Bawa commented, “We have a marvellous tradition of building in this country which has got lost. It got lost because the people followed outside influences over their own good instincts. I just wanted the building to fit int the site so I opened it into blocks. You must run with the site, after all, you don’t want to push nature out of the building.”

Rupert Scott writing in a Architectural Review states, “most important, the building appears to be in tune with the climate, topography and culture”.

To stand at the entrance to the complex, besides the reflecting pools and Lei race slopes of cascading water, it has to be kept in mind that for centuries the site was a marsh. Constructing the building fell to a consortium of two Mitsui companies. An international team from Japan, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore along with the skilled labour of masons and carpenters from Sri Lanka all completed the project in very impressive period of 26 months.

Its real heroes are the artisans of Sr Lanka – most of them unacknowledged craftsmen who helped create the magnificent work of art and culture. The opulent chamber, the focal point of the complex, is covered with a shimmering tented ceiling made of thousands of small pressed aluminium pieces linked by a tiny brass sequence. Suspended from the centre of the atrium is the enormous silver plated chandelier with over 500 bulbs in the double pain motif designed by Lankan artist and sculptor Laki Senanayake. He was given only six months to create this and say that he could never have succeeded without the brilliant master craftsman Edwin Perera and his skilled team of craftsmen.

Eighteen silver flags, beams and standards of kings, temples and korales displayed prominently from tall steel posts were crafted by D Wimal Surendra. He was responsible for this work as well as the massive silver door leading to the chamber. The intricately carved square copper door is silver plated and decorated with an elaborate inscription with the words of the preamble of the 1978 Constitution in all three languages -English, Sinhala and Tamil inscribed on it.The walls flanking this ornate door are covered with beautiful line drawings of murals by the late artist LTP Manjusri, a Magsaysay Award winner. The story depicted here is the Selalihini Sandesaya – an eloquent legend of King Parakrama Bahu VI by a famous Sinhala scholar monk of the 15th Century. The Selalihiniya was the bird chosen as the courier to convey to the deity Vibushna in the nearby city of Kelaniya the supplication of the Kotte King for a male heir. The understated elegance of the mural juxtaposes with the lobby walls of the entrance for MPs.

The special entrance, usually off limits to the public, is surrounded by wall space covered with multi-dimensional jungle scenes carved in mahogany by Mahinda Abeysekera. The interior of the main Chamber – the centrepiece or the entire complex – exudes luxury. The plush red carpet, the billowing ceiling, together with black leather chairs for the Members are bathed in indirect lighting.

At the Parliament’s opening ceremony, Dr Anandatissa de Alwis defended such seeming extravagance by rhetorically asking: “Is this unworthy of such a nation that can look towards the world and say we are not made by treaty, we were not created by the United Nations Conference, we were not created by Potsdam, Zurich or Washington. We have a history of over 2,500 years of writing, of poetry, of sculpture, of learning, second to nobody – except the most ancient civilization of my Dravidian friends across the floor of this House.”

These were truly historic and memorable words uttered by the Member of Parliament for Kotte whose valuable contribution must be recorded and not forgotten.

(The writer is a former Secretary General of Parliament)



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Life style

Durian prevent cancer and improve digestion

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Durian is the fruit of several tree species belonging to the genus Durio. There are about 30 recognised Durio species, however, at least nine of which produce edible fruits. Durio zibethinus is the only species available in the international market: other species are sold in their local regions. Durio zibethinus or locally known as durian is belongs to the family of Bombacaceae, or by others in a broadly defined Malvaceae or by others in a smaller family of just seven genera Durionaceae. Durian is native to Southeast Asia. It is found wild or semi-wild in South Tenasserim, lower Burma and around villages in peninsular Malaysia. In addition, wild durian widely planted in Borneo and Sumatra. Borneo is the centre for diversity of Durio species. Durian is commonly cultivated along roads or in commercial orchards in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines. Apart from durian, this species also well-known with other common names such as Civet-Cat Fruit Tree, Civet fruit, Kampung Durian as called in English, Dian, Durian Puteh and Jatu called in Borneo, Liu Lian as called in Chinese, Dereyan called by Indonesian and etc .

Durian thrives in a hot, humid and wet climate

Durian grows best in a well-drained and fertile soil rich in organic matters that have a pH range from 5-6.5. Durian is intolerant of water logging which will cause destructive fungal root and trunk rot diseases. Furthermore, durian cannot withstand more than 0.02 % of salinity in the soil.

The durian tree can reach up to 27-40 m in height in tropical forests. Durian tree usually erect with short, straight, rough, peeling trunk to 1.2 m in diameter and have an umbrella-shaped canopy of rough branches and thin branchlets coated with coppery or gray scales when young. The evergreen, alternate leaves are oblong, elliptic or rounded at the base, abruptly pointed at the apex; leathery, dark-green and glossy above, silvery or pale-yellow, and densely covered with gray or reddish-brown, hairy scales on the underside. The fruits are ovoid or ovoid-oblong to nearly round and up to 8 kg in weight. The yellow or yellowish-green rind is thick, tough, semi-woody, and densely set with stout, sharply pointed spines, 3- to 7-sided at the base. Inside there are 5 compartments containing the creamy-white, yellowish, pinkish or orange-coloured flesh and 1 to 7 chestnut-like seeds .

Durian as a source of foods

Generally, durian is consumed fresh as fruit or food products such as candy, ice cream and durian puffs after certain cooking procedures. Traditionally, durian flesh is added into dishes such as “sayur” which is the Indonesian soup made from fresh water fish as an ingredient . Moreover, durian-based sauce is used to cook “Ikan brengkes“, a tradition dish in Sumatran islands, Indonesia. Overripe durian pulps are processed to become durian paste in Thailand while unripe durian may be cooked as a vegetable Beside the flesh, durian seeds are also valuable as they can be eaten after boiling or roasting and made into durian flour and chips (Agus, 2014). Furthermore, the young leaves and shoots of durian plant can be cooked as green vegetables.

Health benefits

Durian is widely celebrated for its long list of health benefits, which include the ability to boost immune system, prevent cancer and inhibit free radical activity, improve digestion, strengthen bones, improve signs of anaemia, prevent premature aging, lower blood pressure, and protect against cardiovascular diseases. Some of the more minor benefits of durian are to reduce inflammation of the joints, help thyroid health, reduce headaches, and lower symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Most of the health benefits come from durian’s impressive vitamin and mineral content. Durian contains vitamins such as vitamin-C, folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and vitamin A. Important minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, phosphorus are also found in durian. It also contains nutrients such as phytonutrients, water, protein and beneficial dietary fibre.

Relieves anaemia and promotes healthy pregnancy

Anaemia is a medical condition that reduces the level of haemoglobin on blood. Deficiency in haemoglobin can lead to fatigue, headache, insomnia and etc. In pregnant woman, anaemia can lead to abnormality and fatality of the foetus. Durian contains high amount of folate or folic acid which is essential in the production of haemoglobin. Besides that, low content of iron in durian aids in haemoglobin production alleviating condition of anaemia (Kevat, 2013). Furthermore, presence of folate in durian is important for pregnant woman as it promote regular tissue growth as well as protects the brain and spine in developing baby (Health benefits of durians, 2015).

Helps to maintain healthy bones

Durian contains a number of trace metals including calcium and potassium. Even calcium is present in low level in durian, but amount of potassium present in durian fulfils about 9 % of our body’s daily requirement. Potassium is required for the development of healthy bones. Even though the most abundant mineral of our bone is calcium, but potassium is crucial to regulate the distribution and deposition of the calcium in bones so that it is not dissolved or released into the blood excessively (Kevat, 2013).

Helps to alleviate depression and improves sleep

Durian contains amino acids known as tryptophan – a natural sleep inducing compounds. Tryptophan is required to increase the level of serotonin and melatonin. These two neuro-chemicals are required to manage our emotions. Serotonin is essential to relieve stress, sleeplessness, anxiousness, appetite as well as depression. In addition, these types of hormones help to manage sleeping function and could be utilized in the epilepsy cure (Kevat, 2013).

Fight cancer

Durian has a wealth of vitamins, nutrients, and organic chemicals that function as antioxidants. In the battle against cancer, free radicals are vitally important, because during cell metabolism, there are by-products created, called free radicals. These free radicals can destroy the DNA of regular cells and convert them into cancer cells, which can then metastasize or form fatal, tumorous growths. All of the antioxidants which reduce oxidative stress on the organs of the body are bonuses to the immune system, and durian is packed with them, including vitamin-C, vitamin-B complex, and vitamin E, as well as phytonutrients that battle cancerous cells (Health benefits of Durian, 2015).

Aids in digestion

Durian contains high levels of dietary fibre, which are important for the normal function of the digestive system. Fibre causes bowel movement to increase in bulk, which makes it easier for them to move through the intestinal tract. Fibre also stimulates peristaltic motion and the secretion of digestive and gastric juices, further easing the entire process. By reducing conditions like constipation and blockage in the intestines, conditions like bloating, excess flatulence, heartburn, cramps, and indigestion as well as colorectal cancer can be minimized. Much of the fibre in durian is insoluble fibre, which also lowers the frequency of diarrhea for people with loose stool. Fibre also helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood by scraping LDL cholesterol out of the body and quickly removing it before it can do any damage to the cardiovascular system (Health benefits of Durian, 2015).

 

1. Anti-aging

Durian has a wide variety of antioxidant properties stemming from its vitamin and organic chemical makeup that actively reduce the amount of free radicals in the body. Eating an excessive amount of durian can seriously boost your body’s ability to eliminate those free radicals, thereby reducing the chances of premature aging and delaying the appearance of symptoms such as wrinkles, age spots, macular degeneration, hair loss, tooth loosening, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease (Health benefits of Durian, 2015). In addition, the high water content of Durian is an added advantage along with its antioxidant content. Water keeps the skin hydrated, reduces dryness and alleviates the appearance of fine lines. It also nourishes skin for clear and smooth skin .

Increase and encourage fertility

Estrogen is a hormone which helps in conceiving. Most of the women who suffer from fertility usually have a low estrogen level in their body which is increased with pills, injections and supplements. Studies have shown that durian contains a high level of this hormone and can act as an herbal medicine (Kevat, 2013). Besides that, durian can produce intensified sexual libido and stamina, and also reduce the chances of infertility in men and women, and increase sperm motility .

Used as traditional medicine

According to traditional use, durian may have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and vasoconstrictor properties. Traditionally, durian leaves and roots are in Malaysia used to treat fever. The juice of fresh leaves is used as an ingredient in a lotion for fevers, and the juice from the bark is used as an antimalarial in Sumatra.

Other Uses

On the other hand, durian can be used for purposes other than foods and medicines. Durian husks which are usually thrown as wastes after the durian pulps are consumed can be dried to be used as fuel or fertilizers for tree (Utilization of durian, n.d.). It can also be used as an ingredient for making handmade paper like artistic paper with certain pattern (Agus, 2014). Due to the strong smell, durian husks can be used as the natural mosquitoes repellent.         Dr. S. Kathiresan from AIMST University discovered that durian peel can be used as a mean to recover the oil spill at coastal areas (Lim, 2011). In this case, the durian peel powder is chemically modified and acts as the efficient oil absorbent to remove the oil from the water, solving the problem of oil spills which have caused adverse effects to living sea organisms and human economic activities.

REVIEW ON DURIAN CONSUMPTION

Durians are abundant in Asia during their season as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are the world’s main durian producers. In this case, numerous surveys and reviews have been done on the nutritional values and health benefits of durian. Undeniably, durian has offered unlimited benefits to human health such as relieving anemia, alleviating depression and enhancing fertility (Health benefits of durian, 2015; Kevat, 2013). The Swiss Society of Food Science and Technology also discovered that the levels of antioxidants content in durian are higher as compared with other Asian fruits like mango, lychee and mangosteen of similar ripeness (Durians-‘Heaty’ or healthy, n.d.). However, overconsumption of durian can bring adverse effects to consumer especially pregnant women, diabetic patients as well as obese people. As mentioned by Dr. Patrick Chia, a fetal medicine specialist in Malaysia, it is safe for woman to consume durian during pregnancy but pregnant woman with gestational diabetes must avoid eating durian due to the high sugar content . Besides, consumption of durian during last trimester of pregnancy may result in overweight fetus with greater risk of childhood obesity as durian is high-glycaemic food . Apart from that, durian contains high amount of fat and triple amount of calories as compared to other fruits where obese people should avoid (Durians-‘Heaty’ or healthy, n.d.). From traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspective by Mr. Chew Hong Gian, a TCM physician at Raffles Chinese Medicine, durian is said to possess “warming” property whereby overindulgence in durians can induce sore throat, phlegmy cough and constipation of Raffles Medical reported that one’s body temperature may be increased slightly from eating durians but that does not lead to fever, coughs or respiratory infections.

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Dilani’s styling journey

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By Zanita Careem

When you walk into Elan Salon on Thalawathugoda Road, Kotte, the sleek and simplistic design of it tells that Dilani Pereira is serious about hair and beauty. The stylist is passionate about her hair journey and, before booking any appointment, you’re asked to come along to the salon for a consultation, where she will help shape your ‘dream style’, giving you the chance to consider it first. Once you meet Dilani however, you know you’re in good hands with her professional understanding and realistic advice on your new style.

Regular clients of Elan Salon will know that one of the best things about it is the hair washing station, where you can lay right back and relax as you enjoy an incredible head massage. It is not the price at the end of the scale that matters but it’s definitely worth it for the complete salon experience.

They do a range of other beauty treatments. Whether it’s a bouncy blow dry, beachy blonde highlights, a total revamp or just a chic cut, this young hair stylist knows her art well. This is your one-stop shop for hair and beauty, from a simple cut and colour to nails, makeup or skin care. Dilani will make you feel at home. Her team is all trained and there’s a distinct family feel at Elan Salon.

Following are the excerpts from an interview with Dilani:

Tell us about yourself and your professional background

I studied at Bishop’s College, I have four siblings and none of them are hairdressers. I never dreamt of being a hairdresser. I tried different professions before becoming a hairdresser 15 years ago.

What do you like best about your job and what is your inspiration?

This is an industry involving people, it’s an industry that is always evolving and it is about making people feel and look good. I love being able to build relationships with clients and celebrate all their life’s milestones with them.

What are your greatest strengths and who is your greatest strength?

I’m a good listener. Many of my clients love sharing ups and downs of their lives with me when they visit the salon. It’s important to clarify exactly what they want from their service to avoid miscommunication. Before you pick up the shears or mix the colour, it is imperative that you and your clients are on the same page. My God, my family and friends are my greatest strength. I thank God for blessings and I’m ever grateful to my brother and sister-in-law and my uncles as well for always standing by my side.

Describe a work situation and how you handle it?

There have been many times where clients comes up with unreasonable complaints where I would just listen to them, apologize and make them calm down.

What inspired the name of your salon?

‘Elan’ means style/energy and enthusiasm in French. This inspired me as I’m known for it.

How do you see yourself in five years?

I would like to open up two or three salons in Colombo suburbs and one in a popular mall in five years.

Tell us about your staff and how you train them

I admire and respect my team for commitment and dedication towards work and give them best training which I got from the previous salons that I have worked for.

How do you ensure optimum client satisfaction?

By offering a pleasant experience, a comfortable and a clean environment, personal treatment, knowing my clients and being confident and knowledgeable.

How do you respond to client dissatisfaction?

Hear them out, understand the issue, use initiatives, find a solution, apologize to the client, will not give excuses and make sure that it will not repeat in future.

How do you build relationships with your clients?

When clients arrive, I make sure to acknowledge and greet them with a smile. Every client that visits my salon is made to feel special.

As a stylist I also believe in establishing free flowing lines of communication with them. In order to establish a successful customer relationship, it is also important to be able to take any criticism on board, act on it and turn it around to find a solution. So I make sure that I don’t take criticism personally, instead, I use it to my advantage and leave these channels of communication wide open.

In the new normalcy how have you adapted your work adhering to strict health guidelines?

I make sure to keep myself updated about ever changing health guidelines and encourage clients to call and make appointments, so that I can issue time slots accordingly without overcrowding the salon. As for ‘walk-in customers’, if the salon is not occupied, I will take them in. If not, we have to turn them away with a heavy heart and encourage them to call and make an appointment.

What is your message to a potential new client who is yet to experience your salon and what are the advantages of the location of your salon?

I would be humbled by their presence and be proud to provide them with best service by the Elan team. It has a homely atmosphere and there is ample parking space as well.

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LOVI’S Fashion Story walks the ‘Olympic Ramp’

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The sarong is a traditional piece of clothing worn by Sri Lankans young and old. Asanka de Mel CEO of Lovi sarong has turned the sarong into a fashion stayement. This ubiquitous wrap around the hip called the sarong, was associated with India, and South East Asia for cenanturies,, Now it has become a trendy garment won by islanders in a relaxed or stylish ways. Lovi sarongs come in handlooms, cotton with all the trapping of modern tailoring. His label ‘Lovi’ is very popular and he has push the sarong revolution creating a benchmark in the fashion industry

by Zanita Careem

With the onset of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, and all the associated hype of Olympic fever as well as an outpouring of relief that despite the pandemic life is beginning to show signs of some semblance of normalcy, This is a proud moment for Sri Lanka and LOVI our fashion brand is making history !!!

‘With Sri Lanka sending her largest ever delegation to the games, despite the pandemic, we are making history; as for the first time ever, our team will wear our National Dress as they parade the Olympic stadium” said Assanka De Mel. This is due entirely to the brain child of Asanka de Mel, the founder and CEO of LOVI Ceylon whose farsighted thinking and initiative have resulted in our boys and girls proudly marching in our National Dress

“Like many kids, I loved watching the Olympic games on TV and dreamt of somehow representing Sri Lanka one day,” says de Mel. “Even if not as an athlete, I am so thrilled to be part of this global event by supporting these extraordinary players as well as the dedicated coaches and officials leading the effort. The fact that LOVI is responsible for showcasing our National Dress on the Olympic stage is indeed one of the proudest moments of my entire career”.

Inspired by the notion of Olympic harmony, LOVI designed the Team Sri Lanka outfits based on its Unity collection for the global stage. The maroon, orange and green colouSrs of the Sri Lankan flag are reflected with handwoven gold lines signifying diversity and strength. LOVI’s trademarked gold crown represents sovereignty and the ambition of our new generation to be world class. A special label reads “

スリランカ“, meaning Sri Lanka in Japanese in honor of the host country, Japan. “A limited-edition collection will soon be available for LOVI fans, thus enabling them to get into the spirit of the Olympics”.

De Mel went on to say that, “the Olympics represent the best of the human spirit in action. Our athletes are inspiring future athletes to be the best they can be, because we can! It’s our mission to support all Sri Lankans striving for that level of excellence and LOVI wishes all the Olympic athletes the very best at the games this year – we are proud of you and honoured that LOVI can play a part alongside you at the Olympics.he quipped.

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