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Personal journeys brought to life at a colourful bazaar

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By Rochelle Palipane Gunaratne

My Sunday was not spent languishing at home but exploring the creative journey of a number of amazing individuals who had taken that initial step to create something unique and market it to the masses despite umpteenth challenges. A visit to CCC with its weekend bazaars was something out of a story book. While my main aim was to speak to some of the vendors, I could not stop myself from purchasing the beautiful trinkets on display.

Sleep in perfect peace

My first stop was at a colourful display of bed linen and towels set up by Dharika, a young mother who had tapped into her love for stitching and developed a brand which is aptly called, ‘Sweet Dreams’. Through her SME which started a few years ago, she has touched the hearts of many children and adults too as her bed spreads are made to order with a collection of ready-made items made out of child-friendly material and Egyptian cotton.

Echoes of a rich tradition

Strolling ahead I saw the most exquisite ‘beeralu’ designs, which stopped me in my tracks. Passed down by the Portuguese settlers and mastered by the southerners, beeralu weaving is a craft which is traditionally passed from mother to daughter. Through her enterprising efforts, Priyani who hails from Matara followed in her mother’s footsteps has created many job opportunities for a number of ladies in her vicinity. While the shadow work is done by the younger ones, the Beeralu lace work is by often done by the older generation. Buying these lace works is a benevolent effort as it feeds many families. “To weave one yard takes about a day,” said she to my amazement.

Wonder Weaver

Pathma from Gampaha, a recipient of the 2017 ‘Women Entrepreneur of the Year’ award in the Micro category was another fascinating lady who started learning the art of weaving fifteen years ago when her sons were young. Subsequently, she had started producing a few items but her career had taken wing due to her eldest son’s (who graduated as a Software Engineer) encouragement and motivation. Five years ago she had opened a stall at the Good Market and came to Colombo with trepidation but her son insisted that she continue. “I want my journey to inspire other women to venture out on their and make use of their talents.”

Elegant Designer

Nerush started designing her own clothes because she did not want to look like her daughter’s elder sister. “Eventually my daughter, who identified the demand for these clothes publicized it on social media. Her brand is coined from her husband’s and children’s initials.

Tantalize your taste-buds

While browsing through the items my children stumbled upon a stall displaying 100% natural and vegan pickles, spreads and sauces and they were hooked. Upon inquiring further, I found out that the products have been expertly concocted by a young entrepreneur, Denusha who is a qualified Marketeer and had been in the advertising field prior to realizing her potential to produce her own brand which tantalizes the taste buds.

Creative Cashews

Cashew drink, a creative concoction by a graduate hailing from Bandarawela who produces many more wonders with cashew as a hobby is another amazing product.

Enhancing beauty the natural way

Kanchana from Delgoda had researched on the harmful effects of chemical infused cosmetics and the ancient beauty regimes followed which were more beneficial to the health of the user. Eventually, the government officer decided to leave her comfort zone and pursue her dream of creating natural personal care products which are enriched by local herbs and plants.

Home Cottages

An enterprising lady from Moratuwa who had been supplying her home made products at church feasts and family functions. These platforms have given her an opening to market her creations to larger customer base.

Allahamma’s vibrant handlooms

Allahaamma from Batticaloa had learned the art of creating handloom sarees which are bold and vibrant and certainly eye-catching.

Root Art

A genuine love for art and nature inspired Malith to use recycled products and indoor plants to create unique potted plants and decors for everyday use which are soothing and refreshing and can be displayed at home or office.

Plant – a –gift

Fyto which means plant in Greece is a cactus and succulent plant based hobby which had transpired into a business endeavour by a young IT professional. Having gained a knack for planting which she has inherited from her mother, the beautiful gardener said, “It gives me immense pleasure to nurture the plants and see it grow.”

Herbal soap treasures

Gayathri, from Panadura, a Banker by profession gave rise to her love for making soap from the herbs and spices.

Ornate popsicle stick designs

Geetha who hails from far off Kekirawa and lives in Colombo after marriage had used her free time during her pregnancy to develop ornate deigns using popsicle sticks which are bought in bulk form and are truly fascinating.

Fantastic Flavours

‘Flavour It’ is another product born out of necessity and hardship by Nadeera, a wife and mother who had to resign from her workplace to look after her ill husband. This led her to learn a skill at Vidatha, a workshop conducted by the Provincial Council and embark on a flavourful enterprise.

Sit down massage therapy

The shopping spree ended on a high note with a much needed massage to relieve the tension in the muscles. Having learnt the art through a Japanese Master, the masseuse provide a much needed rejuvenation to both body and spirit.

Inspired and enriched

As the day drew to a close, I went home enriched with a wealth of inspiration. I noticed that each and every one had tears in their eyes while they related their personal journey to me. These are not mere businesses but inspirational stories that give us hope.

Pix by Rochelle



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Pop crackle, gulp and gasp

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Pani Puri: India’s favourite street food now available in Sri Lanka

Pani puri occupies a special place in Indian hearts and stomachs, so it’s no wonder that the treat has been one of the country’s most poplar street snacks

On any normal evening in India, in the bustling markets and noisy main streets of big cities and small towns alike, there is a familiar sight: the corner pani puri wala (seller), surrounded by a gaggle of eager customers.

His hands seem to fly as they dip the puris (fried discs of dough) into various bowls of fillings and chutneys and passes them out to people waiting impatiently. The vendor’s customer base stretches across age groups and social strata, with people stepping out of plush cars or families walking over from their homes. For the love of pani puri, and indeed of all chaat (fried snacks), unites Indians in a way few other things do.

Chaat is a catchall word – from chaatna, meaning “to lick” – that covers a wide range of street snacks, where different ingredients are usually tossed together to create a sucker punch of tastes and textures. India loves these small, satisfying snacks because they fill the perfect hunger moment, that is to say early evening, when lunch is a distant memory and dinner has yet to be cooked. And of all chaat, pani puri occupies a special place in Indian hearts and stomachs.

At first glance, pani puri seems like nothing special. The word itself is a combination of pani (water, which in this case, refers to the diluted chutneys) and puri (the fried discs of dough). The crisp, thin puri, which is about the size of a circle made by your forefinger touching your thumb, puffs up upon frying to create a hollow core.

However, eating a pani puri requires much attention and no small amount of skill: poke a hole on the surface of the puri with your forefinger, load it up with your chosen filling – such as mashed potato, healthy sprouts, finely chopped onions or mushy peas – and then dunk the whole thing into sweet-and-sour tamarind and spicy green chutney waters (both often kept iced) in quick succession. Finally, pop the whole package into your mouth and wait for the explosion of flavours, as the puri – ever so slightly soggy by then – crumbles inside your mouth with the sauces flowing out, all while filling the soul and clearing the sinuses at the same time.

Indeed, to eat pani puri is to be prepared for liquid dribbling down the sides of your mouth and tears streaming out of your eyes – an experience that is far more pleasurable than it might sound.

For those few moments, everything feels alright

It is no wonder that the pani puri is one of the street snacks that many indians love. Many home cooks have taken to recreating some of the magic at home, partly to satisfy chaat pangs and partly to feel the freedom of being able to walk the streets again

As education advisor Meeta Sengupta from Delhi exclaimed over email, “Pani puri is pure fun! Pop, crackle, gulp and gasp.”

Mumbai journalist Karishma Upadhya explained, “I think my craving came from a place of wanting something that made us feel happy and ‘normal’. When everything around is in such flux, it’s reassuring when you taste something that your mouth and mind instinctively know. When you put that pani puri in your mouth, you know you’ll get the perfect mix of cold, spicy, tart, sweet and crunchy. And, for those few moments, everything feels alright.”

While some brave cooks such as food blogger Amrita Kaur are making puri from scratch by kneading the dough to a perfect tight consistency, rolling out dozens of small discs, frying them in batches and preparing the fillings – most have used store-bought puris, purchasing them during careful grocery runs or utilising their pantry stocks.

There are many stories about the origins of pani puri. Culinary anthropologist Dr Kurush Dalal says that chaat (likely a predecessor of the modern pani puri) was first created in what is now the northern Indian region of Uttar Pradesh around the time of Emperor Shah Jahan’s rule in the late 17th Century. According to Dalal, royal doctors advised the general population to consume more fried and spicy snacks (and yoghurt) to balance the alkaline quality of the water from the Yamuna River, on the banks of which his new capital, Old Delhi, was built. The puri, which was to serve as “bite-sized containers of the chaat masala” (with fillings such as potato mash), spread to the rest of the country through migrant workers who moved to large cities like Mumbai and Delhi in the last century.

Like the most sublime chaats, pani puri is best enjoyed on the streets. And while upscale restaurants have started serving it in the last few years – with modern twists such as replacing the chutneys with spiced vodka shots and, shudder, guacamole fillings – their offerings rarely hit the spot. This is partly because street vendors know the palate of their customers and tailor each pani puri order accordingly – “Only the sweet-and-sour tamarind chutney”, “No sprouts please”, “Pile on the spice” – and each claims to have their own secret mixes of fillings and flavourings.

Food writer Anubhuti Krishna, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, loves pani puri but has not attempted to make it at home because, as she says, “I know I cannot replicate my favourite flavours at home, and they are sacrosanct for us UPwalas [people from Uttar Pradesh].”

Another reason could be that pani puri is best (or perhaps only) eaten by hand; there is no room for forks or finesse here. Kalyan Karmakar, culinary consultant and author of The Travelling Belly, a book on Indian street foods, describes eating pani puri as a “foodie adventure sport”, adding that “restaurants cannot recreate the thrill of standing on the pavement, unperturbed by people jostling past. Your eyes are focused on the pani puri wala. You have to be ready to pop it in [your mouth] when your turn comes.”

And even though pani puri is a perennial favourite across the country, it is by no means standardised or even similar everywhere. In fact, the name itself differs by place: pani puri is a Mumbai term, whereas in Delhi it is known as golgappa. In Kolkata, it goes by the name of puchka, and in Uttar Pradesh, it’s pani ke patashe (or batashe). The difference comes from the puri base ingredient – semolina, whole wheat or refined flour – as well as the fillings. And like with politics and cricket leagues, Indians like to argue about which kind is the best, and in each town, which pani puri wala makes it the most chatpata (lip-smacking).

Sengupta, who uses a ready-to-fry puri (a recent innovation found in stores), told me about her own Bengali-Punjabi household where the pani is “gingery sweet, with loads of hing (asafoetida) and pudina (mint)” and with “layered textures”. And Krishna, while noting that such food fights are silly, also adds that the Lucknow variety is her preferred version “because of how the softness and blandness of the matar (mashed peas) contrasts with the spicy water and the crisp and khasta (flaky) batasha.”

“It is [an] explosion in the mouth, yet it is soul food,” Sengupta said wistfully, perhaps summing up what millions of us Indians think of pani puri. – BBC

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Sri Lanka”s most sophisticated wellness facieity for medical and holistic healig

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Rejuvenation of mind, body, and soul

Christell Luxury Wellness -Sri Lanka’s most-trusted aesthetics centre- celebrated over the weekend the grand opening of its pioneering new venture: the Christell Wellness Villa.

Last Saturday the 28th of January, the luxury health and wellness hub for preventative health solutions was unveiled at a private event at the centre’ state of the art central location at Lauries Lane, Colombo, introducing invitees to the wealth of cutting-edge medically approved treatments in store.

Christell Wellness Villa’s portfolio of non-invasive immersive treatments features skin rejuvenation, anti-aging, nutrition, fitness and ayurvedic programmes therapies which seamlessly fuse ancient holistic disciplines and integrative medical therapies with the keystones of modern and traditional Western medicine.

Guided by the belief that good health is the ultimate luxury, Christell Wellness Villa is also the first in Sri Lanka to offer a Sensory Deprivation Pod (floatation therapy) experience, reputed to provide four hours of deep restful sleep with just one hour of floatation. Providing an unmatchable deep state of relaxation, in addition to helping improve sleep patterns, this effortless therapy also contributes towards pain relief, improving daily performance and concentration, alleviating symptoms of depression, while also strengthening the immune system.

Diagnostic assessments and consultations at the Christell Wellness Villa allows the centre’s specialists to curate a bespoke portfolio of medical treatments and holistic therapies designed exclusively for each client’s unique health profile; providing customised result-driven pathways for optimum wellness, backed by both state-of the-art technology and also the very best of what nature has to offer.

At the launch event, Dr. Shanika Arsecularatne Medical Director of Christell Luxury Wellness, spoke of the vision behind the Christell Wellness Villa, stressing also on the importance of not taking one’s health and wellness for granted. “I assure you, Christell Wellness Villa is not ‘just another spa.’ We have on board doctors, scientists, specialists, and trained therapists who are able to curate time-tested, medical treatments and holistic therapies specific to each individual need -man or woman – that promote greater well-being, health, fitness, and longevity.”

A safe haven in the middle of the city to heal, recharge, detoxify and recalibrate your bodies in a healthy sustainable way; enabling you to live a longer life, better lived. is our focus said Dr Shanika

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Blossoms of Hope 2023

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Over the last fifteen years, the Ikebana International Srilanka Chapter, has brought about greater awareness and appreciation of Ikebana art of flower arrangement to a wider audience, through their numerous exhibitions.

The exhibition “Blossoms of Hope 2023” will be held at Cinnamon Grand hotel, Ivy room on the 19th and 20th of February. The chief guest will be the patron of Ikebana International Sri Lanka Chapter, the Ambassador for Japan to Sri Lanka Mizukoshi Hideaki.

There will be more than fifty exhibits by the members who have tirelessly pursued their interests and love for ikebana. The arrangements are categorized into different themes this time – straight lines and curves, repetitive forms, intertwining plant material, colours in contrast, using unconventional materials, complimenting an artwork, miniature arrangements and free style.

Visitors could also witness demonstrations by teachers of Sogetsu School on both days at 4 p.m. free of charge.

Each year, the society supported children with cancer through the medium of flowers. This year too, part proceeds from the show will be channelled to the paediatric ward of Apeksha Cancer hospital.

Date: – 19th Feb; 11 a.m. to 7pm

20th Feb; 10 a.m. to 6 pm

Venue: – Cinnamon Grand – Ivy Room

Demonstrations: – 4 pm (both days)

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