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Sri Lanka’s contribution to the Sathya Sai Baba movement

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Commmemorating the Swami’s 95th birthday

by M. Wanni Wanniyasekaram

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was one of the most respected persons in the spiritual world in his time. In an attempt to take His Legacy forward, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Seva Samithi was established 53 years ago in Sri Lanka and it has spearheaded this spiritual movement nationwide.

The Sri Lankan public first heard of the miracles and spiritual mission of Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, India, through the visit of Hilda Charlton, an American psychic who arrived in Colombo back in 1965. Upon hearing her stories about Sai Baba, many devotees including M Rasanayagam decided to call their friends to join and listen to the experiences of the Divine. On hearing and viewing the video clips shown by Hilda, a few enthusiastic devotees commenced conducting group bhajans at their homes mostly on Thursdays. K Thiyagaraja’s house in Wellawatta was used for this by many devotees who then went on to conduct Sai bhajans in Kandy, Jaffna and Batticaloa.

A delegation consisting of M Rajanayagam, CCS, a former Commissioner of Labor, Dr Nallinathan, C Balasingham.CCS and Kandiah Thiagaraja visited Puttaparthi to invite Bhagavan Baba to visit Sri Lanka. Accepting the invitation, Bhagavan requested the delegation to “first start regular bhajans. Then I will come.” In accordance with Swami’s directive Sri Lanka was the first country in South East Asia to establish Bhajan Centers in Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna and Batticaloa over five decades ago.

Karu Jayasuriya, the without national titles, but carrying military titles and decorations, Dr Bramadasan from the Eastern Zone, and Wanniyasekaram are the only surviving members of the organization from the time it began.

Invitation to Bhagavan Baba to visit Sri Lanka

The second invitation to Baba to visit Sri Lanka was extended by the then Minister Savumiyamoorty Thondaman who was accompanied on this mission by his Secretary, Thirunavukarasu and a few others. They were able to meet Swami and request Him to visit Sri Lanka. Swami accepted the invitation and nominated dates and time for His visit.

They thanked Swami and while Thondaman went to his home town in India for a few days, Thirunavukarasu returned to Sri Lanka and issued a press notification that Swami was coming here and the dates nominated for the visit. Devotees were very happy that arrangements were well under way and a reception committee chaired by Hon. A. Ratnayake, President of the Senate, was set up. Then Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike kindly agreed to receive Swami at the airport and preside over the public meeting marking the visit.

Meanwhile the Colombo-7 elite living in posh houses jostled with each other offering to host Swami in their homes during his stay. When Thondaman returned from India, they lobbied him to recommend their names. This became intolerable and Thondaman asked C. Balasingham to contact either Sri Kasturi or Sri Indulal Shah, Swami’s aides, and get a ruling on this issue. Balasingham contacted both these gentlemen who spoke to Swami. The ruling from Swami was “I am cancelling my trip to Lanka. I will visit only if the devotees want me”. This decision was conveyed to Thondaman.

The Third Invitation

In 2005 many of us visited Puttaparthy for Buddha Poornima (Vesak) celebrations in a delegation led by Karu Jayasuriya. It included Laksahman Kiriella, late Sivali Ratwatte, late Mangala Moonesinghe, late Dr. W. Rasaputram, Bradman Weerakoon, Lakshman Watawala, Mahesh Mallawaarachi, Janaka Weerakoon, Dr Bramadasan, Prof. Degamboda and myself. We extended an invitation by way of a well designed and worded card asking Swami to visit Sri Lanka .

After Karu Jayasuriya spoke extending the invitation, I prayed to Swami “Swami, Lord Buddha had visited Sri Lanka three times. Please visit “SAI LANKA.” He looked at us all with a gracious smile saying “There’s a passing cloud. Let that settle and when there is unity in the organization, I will come.”

This is the second time that Swami had spoken of ‘Unity’. When will that happen among us? When will anger and hatred leave us and we can sit side by side, shoulder to shoulder, taking forwards His sacred legacy for the benefit of our younger generation. Devotees carrying anger and hatred must reform themselves and leave room for younger people to serve Swami.

Among the national projects conducted by the Sathya Sai Organisation in Sri Lanka are:

Hospice; Sai School Manipay – Jaffna; Children’s Home – Vavuniya; Elders Home Hanwella – Colombo; Introduction of Sathya Sai Education in Human Values to Schools; Leadership training for all office bearers (temporally suspended with approval denied by the International Chair for the participation of overseas Resource Per

sonnel).

One of the Public Events conducted includee the Inter Faith Conference with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presiding and two overseas guest speakers, Dato Jegatheesan a Senior Civil Servant from Malaysia and Dato Dr Ayothya Art Ong Jumsai, Ex Minister Of Education Thailand, held at the BMICH which was well received by the public.

Holy Vesak/Buddha Poornima in the Divine Presence

In 1996, a few Lankan devotees were at Whitefield on Vesak Poya day, bearing the traditional tray with lights to signify the importance of Vesak. Swami, blessed the devotees on the occasion of Vesak and granted their request to hold Vesak celebrations in His presence annually. This was well received by all the Buddhist countries in the Asia Pacific region.

 

Reoyka Hira, who was the former Zone Chair for Asia Pacific which includes Sri Lanka, who is presently a Member of the Central Trust at Puttaparthi suggested that we regularize this event by having a “Buddha Poornima Secretariat” in Sri Lanka covering all the Buddhist countries in South Asia. It was decided to offer the Chairman’s post to Hon Karu Jayasuriya, and the post of Secretary to me. This committee worked with perfect understanding, cooperation, and love until it was scrapped by Dr Goldstein and Dr Reddy in the year 2005. However, the program continued with the participation of other countries.

The organization extends its gratitude to Vidiyapathy Ravi Bandu and his team, Kalasuri Vasuki Jegatheesan and Shanmugampillai Viswanathan, former Director Tamil Program Rupavahini Corporation, for coordinating and organizing an annual cultural program to be staged in the presence of the Divine. For many years Sri Lanka hosted this special event which is at present shared by other Buddhist countries in our region.

A minimum of 750-800 devotees per year from Sri Lanka participated in this event. The Year 2005 was a special year for us with about one thousand devotees present. Swami was very free with the Sri Lankan group, mingling among the devotees collecting letters from whoever who gave them to him. He spent more than two hours morning and evening with us, enjoying the Bhajans sung by the Sri Lankan devotees conducted by Gamini Gunasekara. The overseas Bhajans were conducted by Letchu Chablani of Japan.

Every year distinguished VVIPS visited either Whitefield or Puttaparthi. Mrs. Bandaranaike participated many times as did President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the late Anura Bandaranaike, late Dr Seevali Ratwattea and his spouse, late High Commissioner Mangala Moonesinghe, late Central Bank Governor and Ambassador Warnasena Rasaputra. Bradman Weerakoon who recently turned 91 and had held high office spoke on ‘The Importance of Vesak” in the presence of Swami and devotees. This speech was well received specially by the overseas devotees.

CHAITHANIYA JOTI MUSEUM

A large Buddha Statue was gifted to the museum by the devotees in Sri Lanka. Main sponsors were Rev (Dr) Pannindara Thera, the Chief Incumbent of Sri Dharmaka Veshi Temple, Baudaloka Mawatha Colombo 7 and Dr & Mrs Sivali Ratwatte and their daughter Mrs. Lakmani Welgama. Transport arrangement were made by Mahesh Mallawaarachi and T.G.K. Krishnamoorthy in Tamil Nadu, who ensured the statue was delivered in God’s time.

PAINTINGS FOR THE MUSEUM

Sri Indu Bai requested me to find out from Senaka Senanayake whether he would gift three large paintings for the Museum. Indu Bai has met Senaka during his visits to Sri Lanka and knew his credentials. I promptly spoke to Senaka, who without hesitation agreed and completed the assignment on time. Sri Indu Bai selected two paintings for the Museum, and asked me to forward the third to “Swami’s Abode” with a note “Gift from the devotees of Sri Lanka”. This painting is seen in Swami’s lounge as you enter His Abode.

Sathya Sai Institute for Human Values (SSEHV)

In the year 1970 SSEHV was inaugurated by Dato Dr Auodiya Na Jum Sai former Minister of Education Thailand and the Founder Director Sai School, Thailand, Dr Teerakuiat Jareonsettaisn, or “Dr Judo” as he is popularly called, together with Sister Lorraine Burrows, Director of the Sai School Thailand.

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga came to know of the SSEHV concept that the Sathiya Sai Organisation was arranging to introduce in all schools under Swami,s guidance. She requested the Chairman of this Special Commission for Educational Reforms, Prof. Jayathilaka and Dr (Mrs) Tara De Mel, the former Secretary to the Ministry of Education and Member of the Education Reforms Commission to study this report and incorporate what is suitable in the Government Schools Curriculum.

Prof Sunanda Degamboda and Chandima de Silva were appointed Members of the Committee on Ethics and Value Education in Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Education in recognition of the work of the Education Wing of the Sai Organisation. This was based on the recommendation by Prof Jayathilaka and Dr( Mrs) Tara De Mel to the President.

Introduction to Education in Human Values in Schools

This concept was carried out very well in the Northern and Eastern zones. In one of the Divine discourses that Swami addressed was the introduction of the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (SSEHV). Swami requested all countries must introduce this concept universally. Accordingly, this exercise was carried out very successfully in the North and Eastern zones.

Sai Mandir Anniversary Celebrations

“Sai Mandir” at Barnes Place is considered as a landmark Holy Temple for all Sai devotees in Sri Lanka and also for overseas devotees visiting Sri Lanka. Sixty four perches of land in prime residential area in Colombo was gifted to the organization by the late Mrs Meena Ratnam, fomer Deputy Mayor of Colombo, and her daughter Ms Raji Ratnam.

Sai Mandir, Barnes Place, Colombo 7 Sri Gopal Ghandhi (Grand Son of Mahathma Ghandi)

High Commissioner for India in Sri Lanka



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Life style

How Celebrities Influence Fashions

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Celebrities have always shaped and influenced the ongoing fashion trend.

Celebrities both Hollywood and Bollywood influence fashion by wearing whatever is in fashion and also sometimes they create their fashion trend by wearing something enormous, created by the world’s leading fashion designers.

Some of them are known to having better knowledge with fashion than other celebrities, we look to them as fashion icons. They are numerous ways celebrities can influence fashion.

Celebrities set the rule on how to dress to a certain event or how you should dress at a certain age. A lot of times celebrities will promote certain fashion trends. People dress a certain way because their favorite celebrity that they stalk on social media is wearing the same thing.

Fashion can be influenced by social media, the person wearing a certain type of designer or a piece of clothing from that designer.

Research says the some individuals who are referred to as opinion leaders has a major impact on what society thinks of a certain type of fashion. With having celebrities as a fashion opinion leader it leads to higher percentage of market sales. It is agreed that they tend to have more knowledge about fashion than a regular person would, even though if they do not dress accordingly to society at the time. The key aspect of fashion on celebrities is to be seen in the public eye which helps the consumer/designer get more clients or fame.

When it comes to celebrities and trends, clothing is one of the easiest ones to follow. It doesn’t matter what article of clothing celebs have on, if it’s in a magazine or on an Instagram feed, the next day stores are selling the same piece of clothing that said celebrity wore in a photo. It is easier to keep up with the changing trends because of Instagram and TikTok where many celebrities will post videos of their outfits when going out for an event or just spending the day at home. Everyone has their own unique sense of style but how do celebrities influence our style, and are we really dressing in the clothes we choose because we like them, or are we doing it to follow a trend?Celebrities have been known to popularize trends even after they go out of style. One of the reasons why people are so drawn to the styles celebrities wear is because many will choose to dress in a style that brings back nostalgia.

For example, some fashion trend that has been in and out of style for the last couple of years. Various stores and clothing brands have been selling items from tthis fashion collection for a while such as Hot Topic, Forever 21, and Urban Outfitters. But the downside to clothing trends is that we realize “I’m never gonna wear this again,” or “I don’t even like this style, why did I buy this?”

Celebrities are good at advertising the clothing items they’re given because it’s part of their job, but sometimes they don’t even like the items they wear. So, why do we continue to follow clothing trends? They have been given lots of beautiful pieces of clothing to wear and when we see them in it and how people respond to them, we want the same reaction they get, so we choose to follow the trend people say

These celibritiescan also influence where clothing is sourced from. Some of the clothes that we wear are made from animals and harmful products that we don’t even realize are made from insects (silk), goats (cashmere), and sheep (shearling). Numerous celebrities have taken a stand against animal products in clothing, and have chosen to wear clothing that is vegan and animal-free.

For example, Ariana Grande’s wedding dress was made from stating vegan which, according to VeganFashionWeek, has “the soft and lustrous texture of satin to create the perfect wedding gown for Arianna Grande. Satin is made from synthetic materials (polyester, nylon, rayon fibers…)” The choice to buy ethically can influence fans’ styles because they may be inspired to purchase clothing that is made from vegan materials and animal-free products.

Another reason could be because many items that celebrities wear can be used on various occasions. Because celebrities have millions of fans who follow everything that they do, some celebrities have their own clothing lines designed to fit every size and every occasion so that they’re fans can dress comfortably and stylish. Cardi B partnered with Fashion Nova, Kendall and Kylie Jenner have a namesake clothing line, as do many other celebrities. It gives fans the confidence to expand their wardrobe, and it has made people feel comfortable in their own skin.

More positively, celebrities can influence our style by advertising to their fans to dress as themselves and not for anyone else. Angelina Jolie shared her views on fashion in an article last year, saying, “I think we all know boldness when we see it. Nothing makes me smile more than when I see someone being fully themselves, with their own individual style and character, whatever that is.”

Remember: celebrities have their own individual styles that match their own unique personalities and so do you. They can influence our styles because we might like how they look in movies, TV shows, and Tiktoks. It is worth mentioning that celebrities have stylists who dress them for special occasions, and designers who want them to wear their clothes. Style and clothing should be about self expression and instead it has become about trends and influence. Clothes are the reflection of the person you are on the inside so instead of following a clothing trend that’ll be over in a few weeks, dress for yourself.

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Sade Greenwood Miss Sri Lanka world 2022, speaks about Fitness and lifestyle 

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by Zanita Careem

The reigning Miss Sri Lanka world Sade Greenwood gives insight into the importance of a balanced and healthy lifestyle for achieving goals and overall wellbeing.

Sade is currently a student at Tokyo International University in Japan where She studies International Relations. She hopes to make a difference in her country using her degree, where she hopes to be involved in youth programmes and education. When Sade is not studying she is usually doing her charity work which involves environmental services and animal welfare. .

Sade with her sparkling personality and penchant for positivity personifies ‘beauty with a purpose’. She has brought immense pride to us all with her ‘walking the talk’ through her numerous charitable endeavors.

Q• Sade tell us about your journey from modelling to competing nationally, and winning the coveted Miss Sri Lanka World 2022 title?

A•

It’s been a surreal journey! Definitely a lot of adjusting as it was a huge shift in my life but all the same I’m so grateful and blessed to be able to represent my country on the  international stage. 

Q• You have always been in model shape. Have You had to change your workout routines when focusing on the beauty industry? 

A• I think I more so needed fitness to help me balance my busy schedules. It was always great to have a release from everything through fitness, it’s definitely something I used more for my mental and physical health in becoming a stronger version of myself.

Q• Being a part of The Fitness Connection Family and working out at the Gym what do you feel has been the biggest change? 

A• I think learning to achieve my goals. One thing about fitness is that consistency plays a huge role but so does diet! Learning to cut out on some of my favourite food is a little tricky!

Q• I know You have a hectic schedule and many commitments. How have your workouts at the gym impacted you positively? 

A• It’s impacted my mental and physical health and overall helped me balance my life and find a release from all the stress and strain.

Q• As you and your pathway have inspired so many, what advise would You give to those looking to balance their goals with their everyday lives? 

A• Make sure you love what you do! That makes it easier to balance anything in life because you’re putting your heart and soul into what you do. It doesn’t feel like ‘work’ then, so train your mind!

Q• What motivates you the most, and gets you moving even on the most tiring of days? 

A• My goals and how the future version of myself would be proud that I made the decision to do something then and there.

We are all looking forward to your next chapters in what is definitely going to be an exciting and fulfilling journey. I will surely be speaking with you again soon!

*Sade Greenwood photographed at The Fitness Connection,

Racecourse Colombo 07

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The Little Black Dress: Never out of style

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It is the women’s wardrobe staple that always manages to capture the spirit of the times. Katya Foreman from BBC examines the enduring appeal of the Little Black Dress.

The little black dress, that Christmas party staple, is a bit of an enigma. It is both one of the blandest elements of a woman’s wardrobe – as the default option when stuck for what to wear for an occasion – and a stubbornly  timeless, persistently revisited icon. Essentially a simple black cocktail dress, the garment goes by the affectionate nickname of LBD, which has its own entry in the dictionary.

According to André Leon Talley, a contributing editor at Vogue who recently staged an exhibition dedicated to the LBD, the term ‘little black dress’ first appeared in 1926, in an American Vogue illustration of Coco Chanel’s first black ‘Ford’. Vogue editors had named the dress after the era’s democratic black Model T automobile, predicting that the straight, long-sleeved design in unlined crèpe de chine accented with four diagonal stripes would “become sort of a uniform for all women of taste.” They were spot on.

The garment cut a radically modern figure, as much for its stark design as its sober shade, which since the Victorian era had been associated with mourning. For Chanel, black was the definition of simple elegance and, ever disregarding of conventions, she helped bring the colour into everyday wear. Among the displeased, rival couturier Paul Poiret is said to have sniped at Chanel in the street, “What are you in mourning for, Mademoiselle?” The equally scissor-tongued designer is said to have retorted: “For you, dear Monsieur.”

Frock and awe

To put it in context, three decades earlier, John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Madame Gautreau, better known as Madame X, in a black dress had provoked outrage in Paris. The jet-black look, with its skimpy straps and plunging décolleté, was considered indecent. “Displayed in the huge jury-selected exhibition, the Salon, in 1884, it horrified Parisians so much that the ignominy drove Sargent across the Channel to take refuge in Britain,” wrote the Guardian’s Jonathan Jones..

“In this case it wasn’t anything about the style, or the flash of naked shoulders, that upset a public used to ‘modern nudes’. It wasn’t the morbid paleness of the New Orleans-born high society personage Madame Pierre Gautreau… or even the impressionistic way in which Sargent, a friend of Monet, rejects the crispness of academic naturalism. No, it was the dress that caused distress.”

Fellow independent style maven, Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, who owned several LBDs, once said of the versatile garment: “When a little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place.” And, swiftly embraced as a staple of French elegance in the 20s, the shape-shifting LBD nearly 90 years on is still going strong, with a family of icons still fuelling its myth. Notably, there is something about the slim sleeveless black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s that continues to mesmerise generations. Accessorised with black elbow gloves, a pearl choker, dark glasses and a cigarette holder, on Hepburn the gown transcended the sum of its parts.

“I am absolutely dumbfounded to believe that a piece of cloth which belonged to such a magical actress will now enable me to buy bricks and cement to put the most destitute children in the world into schools,” a tearful Dominique Lapierre told BBC News after auctioning off the dress for charity at Christie’s London in 2006, for £467,200 ($765,000) to an anonymous telephone bidder. Lapierre, a French writer and philanthropist, had been given the dress by its maker, French couturier Hubert de Givenchy. According to Christie’s, a second version of the dress remains in the Givenchy archives in Paris, while a third is in the Museum of Costume in Madrid.

Stitches in time

Deceptively simple, the LBD, with its morphing silhouettes and features, can be seen as a marker of shifting social codes. The va-va-voom black Versace safety pin dress worn by Elizabeth Hurley to the 1994 premiere of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, for instance, encapsulated an era, as did Catherine Deneuve’s prim LBD by Yves Saint Laurent in Belle de Jour (1967), with its white silk French cuffs and collar.

 “The little black dress has managed to adapt to all of the socio-political changes,” vintage specialist Didier Ludot has noted. He has been championing the cause since 1999, the year in which he created his line, La Petite Robe Noire, with a dedicated store in Paris’s Palais Royal. And designer Miuccia Prada, quoted in Talley’s aforementioned book said: “To me, designing a little black dress is trying to express in a simple, banal object, a great complexity about women, aesthetics, and current times.”

From the wearer’s stance, nothing is more flattering and versatile than the LBD. Offering new personalities in the tweaking of a neckline or sleeve length, it smoothes contours, serving as an inky frame to exposed areas of flesh. All lines and shadows, the LBD is an ally to curves. To Ludot it is “an iconic, magical garment as it enhances a woman’s features and erases imperfections”.

As the epitome of the blank canvas, the LBD has become a rite of passage for generations of designers, and a fixation for some, such as cult couturier Azzedine Alaia, whose roots lie in architecture.  “The little black dress is interesting to designers because it is a wardrobe classic that we can experiment with and twist. The cut and the volume form the foundations, with the fabric bringing it to life. It’s a real creative exercise,” commented French couturier Alexis Mabille who was among five designers tapped by French lifestyle chain Monoprix to design a little black dress for this Christmas season, along with Giles Deacon, Hussein Chalayan, Anne-Valérie Hash and Yiqing Yin. Suited to all types, the affordable capsule, which premiered at the style emporium Colette in late November, once again reflects the codes of the black Ford Model T.  From Hash’s split-personality design, which melds two styles of dress in one piece, to Deacon’s black satin t-shirt style with an oversized satin bow at the neckline, each offers a new take on a perennial wardrobe classic whose capacity for reinvention seems inexhaustible.– BBC

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