Non-auspicious times and a bit on Britain

No less a person than the previous President Mahinda Rajapaksa has proclaimed that the times selected by astrologers as propitious for the start of the New Year on April 13 around 7.00 p.m., the hearth to be lit at 8.06 and the first meal partaken of at 8.58 at night, was incorrect.

The colour selected for donning while lighting the hearth and eating the first meal – green – was also pronounced inauspicious and the accusation made that the times and colour were selected with a political agenda in mind.

To this cat all this is tosh. Who told the Ex- Prez that the times selected as auspicious were really inauspicious? Was it the astrologer who advised him to go for elections two years before the due date, promising him that his rajah yoga or whatever was intact and invincible.
If one of his principal stooges or both of them of the Jt. Op made this announcement and accusation, we would have brushed it off as all sound and fury signifying nothing. But when the Prez who won the war for us and saved the country makes a pronouncement, we need to give it due notice, if not credence.

My objection to this fuss over a trivial matter is that the world watches us, hears or reads our news. And how would a pronouncement like this go down in developed countries?

Will they surmise that we are no better than a witchcraft-nurturing banana republic of the deepest Africa? Will people consider us so stone-age backward relying on astrology and depending on the position of the planets for the country’s well-being?

Mr Rajapaksa could have done his New Year rituals at Carlton House or wherever in times selected by his sastharakaraya, instead of making this an issue.

Sense and dignity

This feline anticipates with ill-foreboding and shame, the happenings come May 1. Two blue parties parrying against each other with accusations, one pure blue and the other tinted with pink; one in Galle and the other in Colombo.

In contrast, this cat purred with satisfaction and pride, yes pride, when she listened to an interview of the TV I Hot Seat man and Kabir Hashim, Minister of Enterprise Development, a newly created ministry.

Here is a politician who surely brings kudos to the country when he is abroad and is a pride to the nation.

He spoke so sensibly and with much gravitas that one felt proud to be Sri Lankan. He dealt with a whole host of questions and emerged convincing and sincere.

He is one among many bright, clever, well-spoken UNP Ministers, at least three others who should have been ministers but had to be satisfied with deputy ministerships, to accommodate SLFPers in the Cabinet. Incidentally, he is a Trinitian and a Royalist.

Four score and ten

This feline is truly Sri Lankan but has strong streaks of Anglophile and Indophile in her, making her a striped specimen. She’s been given much grist for her semi-alignments in the recent two weeks. First she was sent a whole slew of marvellous pictures of the Cambridges in Mumbai.

There were Prince William and Katherine being received in the Taj Palace Hotel Mumbai; spending probably an entire half day with slum children and then having a huge party thrown in their honour by a Trust headed by the Duke, the British High Commission and the Hotel.

Kate who wore a brilliant blue dress embroidered in India, its matching shawl too, outshone even Aishwarya Rai Bachan. They said they would give a new memory at Agra. What was referred to was the lasting memory Diana, Princess of Wales, gave the public when she sat forlorn in front of the monument to love, to emphasise the neglect she felt from her husband, Prince Charles. So unfortunate.

Her son and daughter-in-law promised a better picture and they kept their word. The couple posed beautifully in front of the Taj Mahal immediately before leaving India after a couple of days in Bhutan.

And the Queen of England is 90 years old, celebrating her birthday on April 21. It will be officially celebrated in June. She is great, no two words about that.

Her reign has surpassed that of Queen Victoria, her direct ancestor who became queen at 18 in 1837 and died in 1901, the longest reigning British Monarch, also titled Empress of India.

The present queen has been on the British throne for longer, ascending it at age 25. She’s active and very much in the saddle, with her much older husband almost keeping pace with her.

British rule

You may wonder why I write of such members of the British Royal Family. Maybe it’s a throwback to viewing the better side of colonialism. We who studied in missionary schools had a taste of the better legacies of British rule some time after the Brits left our shores when the sun set on the Empire. The principals we had, mostly Irish, were so gracious and appreciative of Ceylonese people they came in contact with – parents and teachers.

They had discipline with an understanding of children and teenagers, though they were spinsters. They were completely fair-minded. English they bequeathed us, and decency and good manners. Hence the shocks we suffer seeing the antics of some of our politicians who are our leaders. SWRD and his policy of Sinhala only; education suffering as each new minster took over; degradation of standards of heads of schools and teaching faculty; sheer indiscipline in universities and ragging most horrendous.

These are dire disappointments to us who knew of better times. We have seen such and may see them in the future too. But issues are being addressed. Recently a conference was held to eradicate the menace of ragging of university freshers. The Prime Minister very boldly put most of the blame for its continuance on Vice Chancellors and staff, both teaching and administrative.

And thus we hope conditions in the public domain and in schools and universities will improve. Whatever said and done, this feline has faith in yahapalanaya and is anticipatory of improvement coming to us.

As Minister Kabir Hashim said: Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has plans for the betterment of the country and wants his ministers to implement them fast.

– Menika