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The sinking of SLNS Weeraya and Jagatha

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After decades-long tour of duty on the waters, Weeraya and Jagatha – two ships of the 3rd Fast Gun Boat Squadron of the SL Navy, have now found their new home on the seabed off the port of Trincomalee. While they continue to prove their mettle enriching the deep waters as fish breeding grounds and shipwreck diving sites, those who manned them recollect fond memories on board.

by Randima Attygalle

Weeraya and Jagatha translate into ‘hero’ and ‘conqueror’. These ships of the 3rd Fast Gun Boat Squadron of the SL Navy lived up to their names ensuring the security of the Sri Lankan waters during wartime. Weeraya joined the fleet in 1972 when Rear Admiral D.V Hunter was at the helm of the Royal Ceylon Navy and Jagatha in 1980 during Rear Admiral A.W.H Perera’s tenure as Commander.

During the 30-year war, these ships were in the frontline fighting arms smuggling and terrorist activities in the seas off the Karainagar Island. Having played their part, Weeraya and Jagatha bid goodbye to the men above the waters, settling down on ‘Davy Jones’ Locker’ off Rocky Point in Trincomalee a few weeks ago. They were both soon to turn 60.

The ceremonial decommissioning of the two vessels at the Naval Dockyard in Trincomalee a few weeks ago was presided over by the Navy Commander, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenna. In keeping with naval custom, the decommissioning was carried out with the seal of approval of the President. The decommissioning ceremony ended with the paying off pennants (long pennants equivalent to the lengths of each ship) ceremonially scissored into equal parts and the individual pieces distributed as souvernirs among the ships’ crew in the time-honored naval traditions. The decommissioning ceremony was also attended by Rear Admiral (Retd) J.T.G. Sundaram (as a guest of honour) who commanded Weeraya from January 1, 1980 to January 25, 1981 as its sixth Commanding Officer.

Manufactured in 1961 in China, Weeraya was one of the first of two gunboats (FGBs) to be added to the fleet of the then Ceylon Navy in 1972 as one of Her Majesty’s Ceylon Ships (HMCyS). Until the arrival of this vessel, the Navy had only one ship- a Frigate called Gajabahu and many unarmed small boats,

Lieutenant Commander (Retd) Somasiri Devendra, an authority on maritime archaeology, says: “When the Insurgency of 1971 erupted we were without any seaward defenses and had to call upon Indian and Pakistani ships to patrol our waters and throw a cordon around us. The Chinese offer of two reconditioned FGBs- (Sooraya and Weeraya as they were renamed later) was welcome.”

The ships gifted by China in early 1972 were commissioned a few months later. Commissioning, as Devendra explains, is the act of empowering a vessel to act as a self-sufficient unit of the Navy under a Commanding Officer. The ships were launched by the Prime Minister who was the then head of the government and the country’s chief executive. Devendra who was in Kochchikade when the Sooraya and Weeraya arrived as deck cargo on a Chinese merchant vessel recollects his first glimpse of them wrapped in bamboo matting. “They were a class of ships designed for use in rivers – those rivers were much bigger than anything we have. At sea, their buoyancy would have increased. They had several engines and were heavily armed. They were tested as seagoing craft by us and several problems encountered were put right with our inputs.”

Soon, Sooraya and Weeraya were joined by three more Chinese counterparts. “When these three arrived, a ‘nationalist’ minded officer decided to pander to then Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike by suggesting that the five FGBs have names starting with S,W,R,D and B. This resulted in the names Sooraya, Weeraya, Ranakami, Dakshaya and Balawatha!” says Devendra. The Chinese teams accompanying the ships remained here for several weeks after the handover.

“All the manuals, signage, etc. on board was in Chinese only. The first local crew made use of their stay to get all of them translated as the Chinese team had very good Sinhala speaking interpreters who had learned the language at one of our state universities.”

After the ships started patrolling it was found that given the tight Navy Vote, it was very expensive to run them at maximum capacity. Nevertheless, some of them did undertake cruises to the Maldives, notes Devendra.

The decommissioning ceremony of the Weeraya and Jagatha, Rear Admiral (Retd) J.T.G. Sundaram who commanded Weeraya as its sixth Commanding Officer, says was the “first ceremony of such scale and pageantry.” This senior officer who graced the occasion as a guest of honour lauds it as a fitting tribute to the two pioneer vessels. “Before the onset of the conflict, the role of the Navy was largely that of surveillance which gradually shifted to an operational one. Weeraya and Jagatha were among the vessels which had to adapt to this transformation.”

Light House Relief Operations servicing the Little and Great Basses Lighthouses in the South and patrolling in the Northern seas were some of the notable surveillance exercises for which the Weeraya was responsible before she took on operational duties, says Sundaram.

Jagatha in the mid-80s, was a notable platform for cadet sea training, Sundaram, who was also a training commander on board said. “Both these vessels underwent mid-life refit in the mid-1980s for which Chinese personnel arrived here.” Before a ship is decommissioned, the exercise known as ‘de-storing’ takes place explains the Senior officer. “All weapons, engines, propellers, shafts, electronic and electrical equipment, fuel and lubricants are removed in this process.” Once de-storing is complete, scuttling of the ship begins by allowing water to flow into the hull.

“Sailing during South West monsoon along the southern seas especially along the stretch between Hambantota and Tangalle passing Great Basses and Little Basses were the acid tests that a junior rating or a cadet had to prove his sea legs,” recollects a top-ranking retired naval officer. Fondly looking back on his days spent in the Gun Room of Jagatha as a young cadet in 1985, he adds, “the kitchen (galley) was using diesel fuel and the food had an eternal diesel flavour! The single toilet was not sufficient to cater to the larger crew; hence a Thunder Box was installed at the stern of Jagatha!”

The Shanghai class ships – Jagatha and Weeraya were the “best teeth the navy had to bite in late 70s and 80s”, reflects the senior officers who adds with a chuckle that today cadets will certainly make a mockery out of seven- point gun drill what was a ritual prior to a gun being fired. “It was ‘The Gun’ that the LTTE most feared tangling with,” he adds.

Out of the Jagatha’s four engines, two were in the forward engine room and used only when high speed was required. Their roar at high RPM was not at all ear-friendly, he recounts. “The Crow’s Nest was a cage like contraption on the top of the lattice mast and slacking cadets or those caught for being too smart were banished up there as punishment

“Sailing through the Karainagar channel into the Elara naval base at Karainagar, passing Fort Hammenhiel without running aground, was a skill mastered by the then commanding officers and Master-at-Arms who were at the rudder of the vessel, he notes.

The Dumping Permit Regulations made under the Marine Pollution Prevention Act require the sanction of the Marine Environment Pollution Authority (MEPA) for any decommissioning of a vessel and this was obtained prior to the sinking.

“True to MEPA’s vision of realizing a healthy coastal and ocean environment for future generations, we welcome shipwrecks which promote fish breeding places and shipwreck diving which spurs awareness and future interventions in terms of sustainability. We are conscious that such wrecks are not detrimental to the marine life,” remarks Dr. Terney Pradeep Kumara, General Manager of MEPA. Any decommissioning of a ship, he explains, should be authorized by MEPA. “A dumping permit is issued for sinking of any vessel once the authorities are satisfied that all pollutant-agents such as oil, lubricants and non-degradable material is removed from it.”

The open gangways of a shipwreck are a haven for both the fish and the diver alike says the Marine Ecologist. “While wrassers, groupers, larger snappers and morays thrive in these places, they also enable divers to swin through these passages.”

Ship wrecks as the Tec-Diver and underwater explorer, Dharshana Jayawardena explains, could be a boon to fisheries and tourism. “From a fisheries perspective, the correct location and depth is important. The currents in the location will determine how well-nourished the wreck will be with coral larvae floating in water that will settle to make an artificial reef; also once it is a reef, how much nutrients will be available for its sustenance will also count. The least pollutants in the location, the better the reef will turn out to be.”

Wrecks also act as safe havens for shoaling fish to hide during day time. It is important that these locations can be easily accessed by recreational divers. “If not its value for tourism won’t be as much.  In addition, the location should have good water clarity most of the time,” notes the technically precise diver with a wealth of experience diving into decommissioned ships both locally and overseas. The two decommissioned gunboats lying close together in the Trincomalee Harbour, the Chevron glass gunboat off the shores of Moratuwa, the wreck of We Ling that was sunk with several bullet-proof VIP cars onboard in Negombo and several decommissioned vessels in the Maldives sunk for the purpose of creating artificial reefs for the Maldivian tourism industry are among such diving pursuits of his.

A few kilometers away from the Jagatha and Weeraya’s resting place in Rocky Point, off Trincomalee, lie remains of several aircraft, decommissioned navy gun boats and also one of the largest wrecks in the world – the Admiralty Floating Dock 23. But marine tourists are not allowed to access these as they are within the harbour environs, says Jayawardena.

A ship sold for scrap will yield a one-time, short-term dividend, a ship sunk as an artificial reef will provide dividends for over 100 years as an abundant fishing ground and also give back millions of dollars in foreign revenue to the country from the tourist divers who come to visit the wreck, notes the explorer.



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The Boss Up Story

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Boss Up isn’t merely a brand name. It’s a manifestation of resilience and inner power in the form of a branding and social media marketing agency. Hafsa Killru, the Founder of Boss Up has a personal story and determination to ‘boss up’ that propelled her to launch her own venture to empower entrepreneurship, especially among small businesses.

Beginnings

The environment one grows up in has a remarkable effect on a young child’s mind. Watching two strong women in the family redefine the role of feminine power, a young Hafsa grew up ambitious too. Although brimming with the desire to create a change, her childhood was fraught with challenges that plague many children today – bullying. She was subject to severe bullying since the tender age of 10 at her places of education, which affected both her mental and physical health.

“I never fit in anywhere. I was never welcome among the cliques. But I didn’t let it affect my confidence. Keeping my circle small helped me stay focused on my studies. I’d spend this time alone in school libraries, often reading encyclopedias,” says Hafsa. “The bullying worsened in my teenage years. I was lonely but it worked out in my favour because I was never, and still not, someone who worries about ‘what will others say’ — a key obstacle in many people’s lives. Not having many friends meant I was not under peer pressure. This allowed me to be my authentic self.”

Hafsa’s writing career began quite unexpectedly when she was 17. Not only is she a content writer but also a poet who writes evocatively about mental health, healing and empowerment. But this didn’t come by easily either.

During her higher studies, those she considered to be her friends tried to crush her growth mindset, which eventually took a toll on her. It was only when she managed to remove herself from such environments did she become more self-aware and regain her confidence, thanks to the solitude it brought into her life.Yet again, a new set of obstacles awaited her in her early 20s. In 2019, she was turned down by over 20 companies within three months alone, which led to deep frustration and self-doubt. Although she had freelancing opportunities, the lockdown only added to her troubles.

But that’s when something clicked into place – an idea so obvious, so big and so right for her that Hafsa knew it was what all these adversities were pushing her towards. She realised the lockdown was putting undue pressure on businesses and it needed a solution. Especially small businesses were struggling to go online and create a sustainable brand, and that too at an affordable rate. How could they compete with incumbent brands with massive budgets and breakthrough technologies? She sought to give them the edge they needed and thus, Boss Up was born in October 2020.

“Inviting change, taking charge of the situation and choosing to do something on my own has to be, although scary, the most liberating decision I have ever made,” admits Hafsa. “The lockdown wasn’t the time for businesses to go silent. They needed business and marketing solutions that would help them overcome the situation.”

In today’s contemporary business world, a business of any size will only be running a losing race if it hasn’t developed a strong social media presence or a clear brand strategy. Hence, Boss Up ensures equal opportunities are given to entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

One and a half years into the business, Boss up is now global with its wings spread across countries like the UK, Canada, Dubai, Qatar, the Maldives and Australia, and is backed by a strong team of young and passionate minds.

The Purpose

Boss Up’s primary goal is to uplift entrepreneurs. The brand is also a strong advocate for inner power, confidence and resilience — the three main driving forces of ambition. It intends to help people who hail from struggling backgrounds; the ones who are inundated with a lack of support, seek self-sufficiency and are hungry to design a unique identity for themselves.The brand also strives to treat everyone at work with compassion and empathy whilst leading with kindness as it is crucial to reform work cultures that are hazardous to oneself.

Reach out to HAfsa via Instagram @hafsa_killru @bossup_srilanka or email bossup_srilanka@gmail.com.

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Features

The Switch of Trend in Fashion After the Pandemic 2022

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There has been an immense change in the Industry of Fashion after the pandemic struck us all hard. Currently, the trends of fashion have also taken a big turn towards affordable fashion trending styles and outfits. The Fashion boom has grown to become steadily slow for the seasonal styles and basic needs of clothing as well.

The current scenario of fashion life is always at a peak, and even after the Covid-19 pandemic, we have still seen slow growth in the need for fashion. There are of course certain aspects that have affected the industry and declined surplus. However, fashion and clothing have become a BASIC need for humans across the globe.

From shopping high-end couture to higher brand apparel, the trend has shifted to move on to sustainable clothing and organic clothing pieces. For example, we have become more aware of locally produced clothing brands and organic fabrics of our country. Made in India clothing and brands are emerging at a higher graph.Let’s take a look at the Current Change in Fashion Trends due to Pandemic 2022

Sustainable Outfits After the Pandemic

This is something most have been finding a basic need in clothing. Spending over and over again on the same kinds of clothing has and will reduce in the future. Buying clothing and fashion pieces that last for longer is the key to saving more than before. Buying pieces like basic Tees, Pants which may be styled over and over again is what the trend is shifting towards.

Budget Range of Fashion Brands are Accepted higher

Since the ban of Rowme and Shein-like brands and online websites in India, other national brands have started to make affordable fashion pieces for their customers. Styles and trends of fashion in the budget are what the people will be looking out for since the economic growth of people has dropped. Investing in fashion will never end until there will be a supply, the only difference is the budget range brands have a huge change of acceptance now since the pandemic.

Change of Styles worn to Work or Office Fashion after the Pandemic

Since the depression, people may have just stopped feeling happier may want to take the effort to dress like before. Styles of fashion in a simple and classy fashion will emerge largely than before. Choosing Plains or Solids overprints and pattern or neutrals over new trending colors and the print patterns is being seen for workwear fashion.

Change of Trends and Styles for Indian Festival Wear after the Pandemic

In the same way as the above point mentions, dressing special occasions will take a shift. Looking at the financial conditions currently, customers will be buying lesser for Festive wear than before. Styling the same pieces with a change of new additions of budget festive wear will be trending. Sarees and salwar suits in silks, choosing cotton, and linen kurta sets over the designer trends are to be seen this year during Indian festivals.

Choosing Budget Wedding Wear Over Designer Wedding Wear

When it comes to weddings, the cost goes to the highest for any customer. But the pandemic has changed how weddings will be taking place. The cost of weddings has declined drastically and shopping for Indian weddings has grown to choose mid-range wedding wear over high-end designer wear. Saving more during weddings, styles of lehengas, sarees, shalwar suits, or sherwanis for weddings that are in mid-range is a new trend.

From styling men’s kurta suits styles for the basic function of weddings to choosing classic or budget range sarees and suits for the bride’s ceremonies will take up a new fashion trend look. Making a choice of ONE heavy wear Lehenga and Sherwani may be what the soon-to-wed couples be looking for.Designer wear which can be restyled or reused and worn for other occasions and weddings is also a trend to grow rapidly. Saving much more for the bridal and groom’s outfit looks.

Shopping Online Increased for clothing after the Pandemic

The safer way to buy clothing has become a focus for all customers going towards online shopping. The percentage of online buyers has rapidly increased for clothes after the pandemic. From casual wear shopping online to fashion shopping for festivals and weddings, all have become much easier and more convenient for consumers.

Websites and businesses are working to grow even wider with Online Shopping. Connecting with customers personally for their shopping experiences to taking a new addition in budget clothing varieties for the customers is what’s taking place.

Online shopping has become a trend We have set an all-new trend for our customers It brings more trust and safety to customers. Shopping for wedding wear online only gets comfortable for all when sitting back home and shopping Fashion Shopping after the Pandemic via on-line shooping is what keeps all customers happier.

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Captivating streetwear for today’s fashionable girls

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The latest street fashion brand Girls by Dillys under the umbrella of Dilly’s was launched recently introducing trending new pieces to help girls carry the distinct personality and style to be the fashionable girl of today.

Girl by Dilly’s is a creative street fashion brand that focuses on vibrant colors, textures, and prints to bring out the youthful exuberance of today’s girls. The brand has emphasized on contrasting color combinations. The ethos of this brand is creativity and having fun. Girl by Dilly’s is dedicated to the free-spirited girls who have their own super powers and a bold attitude. Girls are encouraged to mix and create unique styles to introduce their own identity in a creative and playful way.

This brand is the new lifestyle for confident girls who love to enjoy freedom, youth and individuality. The brand has different style combinations from casual to evening wear to make the overall look fashionable and completely their own. The brand tagline ‘All about a Girl’ is a reminder to every girl that she is unique and beautiful.

To ensure glam and comfort, all Girl by Dilly’s products are crafted using quality fabrics and technical know-how. The brand offers a wide range of stylish ready-to-wear pieces, from tops, skirts, pants, shorts, dresses, rompers, jump suits, crop tops, and t-shirts. The brand has introduced batik into the collection with a fabulous finishing touch to elevate its signature styles. The brand is also introducing a comfortable t-shirt collection with inspirational slogans and line art to share a positive message with society.

Dilani Wijeyesekera – Director of Girl by Dilly’s stated, “We became aware of a notable gap in today’s market for fashionable streetwear clothing for girls. Today’s new generation of girls have a different youthful energy about them. They are fun, bold, carefree and energetic and they want the whole world to see that. Girl by Dilly’s is perfect for such girls as it helps them find their own identity through our collection of vibrant colours and creative styles that they can mix and match to come up with eye-catching outfits. Every piece of Girl by Dilly’s has the look and feel of fun and vibrancy.”

With the launch, Girl by Dilly’s is providing an introductory offer to all loyalty customers where they can avail themselves to a 15% discount on all products until 7th August 2022, both on online and at the flagship store. A selection of special giveaways has also been lined up in the coming weeks for all social media followers.

For the latest Girl by Dilly’s updates and new releases, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok using @dillyandcarlo. The latest Girl by Dilly’s collections are available at the Flagship Store on the website www.dillyandcarlo.com.

Dilly’s was established in 1987 to cater to Colombo’s desire for high-end designer wear with a local twist. As the company grew, Dilly’s introduced its second brand to the market, this time to cater to menswear. Carlo was established in 2007 and exemplified stylish men’s clothing for all ages. The brand is housing its distinct designer ranges to cater to the entire wardrobe requirement of modern men and women.

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