“Think of others, stay indoors, and work on your inner self”
By Bernadine Rodrigo
It would not be wrong to say that morale is low this Sinhala and Tamil New Year. No one can go outside to enjoy the normal customs and festivities such as shopping for clothes for the New Year, while some are even stuck in their temporary living places unable to head back home to spend the New Year with their families. Also, we can’t hold the usual Sinhala and Tamil New Year games and ceremonies where we indulge in the glorious local sweets known as “kavili” and listen to engaging folk songs and stories.
The Government has advised that while people can follow and partake in the traditions, they must do so in small groups not away from their homes. The fun in the air usually during Avurudu is absent this year due to the terrible crisis which the entire world is facing.
The grand feasts which we usually have are a definite no-no; there are even people suffering with no food as they are unable to earn a living. However, despite all that, the New Year will still be happening as this country, to which it is a long-standing tradition, cannot simply ignore it.
A few of Sri Lanka’s loved and esteemed folks came forward with messages for the people of Sri Lanka during this Sinhala and Tamil New Year:
Stephanie Siriwardhana and Dushyanth Weeraman
This time, Avurudu is something we can’t celebrate with the village people, said Dushyanth But what you may not realise is that your village people celebrating Avurudu are hungry. So this time, without celebrating, think about those in your neighbourhood and try to help them in any way you can.
Those around your neighbourhood, the people that you know, could use your help, Stephanie added.
Of course, you can do the sirith-virith (traditions and customs) at home with your families in a quiet and isolated way, continued Dushyanth. But now, Sri Lanka is coming to a point where some people don’t get food to eat because some of them still live away from the rich neighbourhood and the delivery services still don’t go there. This is a time when we have to think about all of these people.
Looking towards the New Year, Stephanie said, adding that this is the year where we come together as Sri Lankans regardless of race, religion, cast, and whatever; just forgetting all of that and looking to become united as a country!
Capt. Elmo Jayawardena
Avurudu celebrations are important for a lot of people. We all like it, there’s no doubt about it, but now we should use that spirit to feed at least one family. We can’t do anything about the coronavirus. We just have to follow government rules and I myself follow them to a T. What my wife and I are trying to do is feed some families.
There are so many people who are hungry because they are daily wage earners and now they don’t have money and food. We have a list of 1,500 families and we are trying to give each of them Rs. 2,000. This is not a time for celebration, frankly – it’s a time to help. It’s easy for us to sit nicely in a house near the lake where everything seems very nice, but there are so many who don’t have that luxury.
There are only two main things to do this Avurudu: One, don’t go outside and two, try to help at least one person.
This year, my message is different. Every time we celebrate the New Year, we always show others that we bought a lot of stuff, celebrated with people, and had huge parties and social gatherings. I think this New Year is telling us, with this quarantine experience, to delve “inside ourselves”. It’s more introspective because we always thought that the outside world is so nice and that things outside are so beautiful, but we need to realise that the outside world is temporary.
We always have our “inside”, but we never had time to enjoy it inside. So for this New Year, I have this special message: Find yourself. Find yourself; find the inner you. What are your inner feelings? What is your soul? Use this New Year as a kind of platform where we can realise that inner beauty is really cool; if we are beautiful inside, then everything outside we will be seen as an illusion – a fantasy world. But the inside world is always real…see into your soul.
So my message is take the lesson. This is a really good time to start the New Year with a new experience. It was a very general experience we had these past New Years, with big parties and gifts; illusions, fantasies – nonsense, actually. Therefore I say, always think about the inside.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish a very happy Sinhala and Tamil New Year to all Sri Lankans living here and abroad. This year, we are challenged to find creative ways to celebrate the New Year while following the guidelines given by the Government to combat the coronavirus in Sri Lanka.
Wish you all good health in the coming months and let us all celebrate the New Year after we win the war with our current enemy – the coronavirus.
The only Avurudu game you should be playing this quarantine Avurudu season is kotta pora (in more ways than one).