The Tamil and Sinhalese New Year, generally known as Tamizh Puthandu (Tamil: தமிழ் புத்தாண்டு) in Tamil Nadu and among the Indian worldwide Tamil diaspora, and as Sinhala Aluth Avurudda (Sinhala: සිංහල අලුත් අවුරුද්ද) in Sri Lanka, is a major anniversary celebrated by the Sinhalese and Tamil people in Sri Lanka.
The festival date is set with the solar cycle of the Hindu calendar, as the first day of the Tamil month of Chithirai. It, therefore, falls on or about 14 April every year on the Gregorian calendar. The same day is observed by Hindus elsewhere as the traditional new year but is known by other names such as Vishu in Kerala, and Vaisakhi or Baisakhi in central and northern India.
The Sinhalese New Year / Sinhala Aluth Avurudda has a close semblance to the Tamil New year / Tamizh Puthandu and is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. It is generally celebrated on 13 April or 14 April and traditionally begins at the sighting of the new moon.
On January 29, 2008, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led Government of Tamil Nadu enacted the Tamil Nadu New Year Declaration Bill 2008 which declared that the Tamil new year should be celebrated on the first day of Tamil month of Thai (14th January) to coincide with the Tamil harvest festival of Pongal. However, the Tamils in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Canada continued to observe the new year in mid-April.
The law enacted by the DMK-led Government of Tamil Nadu was met with resistance by the majority of Tamils in the state and elsewhere. It was also challenged in court, questioned by Hindu priests and many Tamil scholars around the world. Many in Tamil Nadu ignored the DMK government legislation and continued the celebration of the traditional Puthandu new year festival in mid-April.
The then opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) in Tamil Nadu subsequently condemned the decision of the DMK Government in that state and urged their supporters to continue celebrating the traditional date in mid-April.
In an effort to placate popular sentiments the DMK-led government renamed Tamil Puthandu as “Chithirai Tirunal” (the festival of the Tamil month of Chithirai). It maintained April 14 as a public holiday purportedly to commemorate late Dr B.R Ambedkar, who was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of Indian Constitution even though all the television channels in Tamil Nadu continued to telecast festive “Chithirai Tirunal Special Programs” on April 14, 2010.
In April 2010, the Governor and the Chief Minister of the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry, which has an ethnic Tamil majority, wished and greeted the public for the Tamil new year 2010.
Subsequently, on August 23, 2011, an AIADMK majority-led government rescinded this law legislated by the DMK majority-led government by a separate act of legislation in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
The most ancient sources of pearl, the queen of jewellery,are believed to be the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Mannar that lies between India and Sri Lanka. Pre-historic people of these regions were probably the first to find the first pearls known to mankind, obviously during their quest for food. However, to pinpoint an exact region where the discovery and appreciation of pearls first began may be difficult.
In 315 BC, the Greek philosopher Theophrastus, pupil and successor of Aristotle in the Peripatetic school wrote that pearls came from the waters off the coast of India, and certain islands in the Red Sea and in the Sinus Persicus (Persian Gulf).
Megasthenes, the Greek geographer and writer, who accompanied Alexander’s general Seleucus Nicator in his Asiatic conquests, visited many regions of India, including Madurai, the capital of the Pandya kingdom. While in southern India, he also learnt about the neighbouring island of Sri Lanka which he called “Taprobane,” and its valuable resources, such as pearls and a variety of gemstones. Subsequently, in his famous work “Indica” he wrote that Taprobane was an important source of large pearls.
The Alexandrian-Roman geographer, Claudius Ptolemy ( c. AD 100 – c. 170) wrote about the pearl fishery in the Gulf of Mannar, both on the South Indian side and the Sri Lankan side.
The Periplus Maris Erythraei (Periplus of the Erythrian Sea), written by an unknown Alexandrian-Greek author, in the second half of the 1st-century A.D (approximately 60 A.D.), mentions the route to the east coast of India, is through the Gulf of Mannar, between India and Sri Lanka. It provides an extensive account of the pearl fishery in the Gulf of Mannar, particularly on the Indian side of the Gulf, and the pearl fishery of Epidprus (Mannar Island) on the Sri Lankan side of the Gulf.
The Gulf of Mannar
The Gulf of Mannar is a large shallow bay, a part of the Lakshadweep Sea. It lies between the southeastern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka. The estuaries of the river Thamirabarani of south India and the Malvathu Oya (Malvathu River) of Sri Lanka drain into the Gulf of Mannar.
Geological evidence suggests that in ancient times India and Sri Lanka were connected by land. An 18-miles (30 km) long isthmus composed of limestone shoals, and coral reefs, popularly known as Adam’s Bridge or Rama’s Bridge or Ramsethu, lies between the Rameswaram Island, off the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and the Mannar Island, off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka. Adam’s Bridge separates the Gulf of Mannar in the southwest from the Palk Strait in the northeast. The sea in the area is very shallow, only three to 30 feet (1 to 10 metres) deep in places, and hinders navigation. Some of the sandbanks are dry. Some claim that up to the 15th century, Adam’s Bridge was completely above sea level and people travelled between India and Sri Lanka on foot. The bridge they say was breached, fissured and the channel deepened by storms when a cyclone devastated the region in 1480.
In ancient times, this coast was known worldwide for its natural pearls. Greeks, Romans and Arabs sought the beautiful pearls harvested in these waters. From the time of the known history of the Tamils, pearl trading became one of the principal sources of revenue of the Tamil kings.
The bed of the Pearl Fishery Coast in the Gulf of Mannar is a fertile breeding ground for pearl oysters. There were two distinct fisheries in the Gulf of Mannar – one on the South Indian coast, the other on the northwestern Sri Lankan coast.
On the Indian side of the Gulf of Mannar, the Pearl Fishery Coast of southern India extended along the Coromandel Coast from Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) to Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin). This fishery coast has been known in different periods of time in various languages as the Cholamandalam coast, Colkhic Gulf, Comorin coast, Coromandel coast, Fishery Coast, Kuru-Mandala coast, Ma’bar coast, Paralia, Pescaria, Fishery coast, Tirunelveli coast, Madura coast, etc. The coast took its name from the presence of natural pearls in the bed which is a fertile breeding ground for pearl oysters.
The pearl banks on the Sri Lankan side of the Gulf of Mannar stretch from the island of Mannar, off the northwestern tip of Sri Lanka, south to Chilaw.
The Pearl Fishery Coast in Southern India and in Sri Lanka were predominantly populated by the Paravar caste. The Paravars were fishers, seamen and maritime traders. Majority of the Paravars specialised in the seasonal harvesting of pearl oysters and chank and for thousands of years.
The Pandyan kings allowed the Paravars to manage and operate the pearl fisheries because of their ancient skills in that activity, which required specialist seamanship abilities, knowledge of the location of the oyster beds and the art of tending them. The Pandyan kings exempted the Paravars from taxation and allowed them to govern themselves in return for being paid tribute from the harvested oysters.
In ancient times, this Pearl Fishery Coast was known worldwide. Greeks, Romans and Arabs sought the beautiful pearls harvested in these waters by the many Parava fisheries that operated to exploit them. From the time of the known history of the Tamils, pearl trading became one of the principal sources of revenue of the Tamil kings. By the first century AD, pearls and shanks were among the important exports from southern India.
In the late 1270s, Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I sent an expedition to Sri Lanka under his minister Kulasekara Cinkaiariyan Aryachakravarti near the end of the Sri Lankan king Bhuvanaikabâhu I’s reign (1272-1285 AD). Aryachakravarti defeated Savakanmaindan of the Jaffna kingdom, a tributary to the Pandyans. He plundered the fortress of Subhagiri (Yapahuwa) and brought with him the Relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Bhuvanaika Bahu’s successor Parâkkamabâhu III went personally to King Kulasekaran’s court and persuaded him to return the tooth relic.
Most historians agree that on later expeditions it was this Arayachakravarti who stayed behind to create the Arayachakravrati dynasty in the Kingdom of Jaffna, and raided the western Sri Lankan coast. From then on, the pearl banks came under the sole dominance of the Aryachakravarti line of kings of Jaffna kingdom.
Political and military leaders of the same family name left a number of inscriptions in the modern-day Tamil Nadu state, with dates ranging from 1272 to 1305, during the late Pandyan Empire. According to contemporary native literature, the family also claimed lineage from the Tamil Brahmins of Rameswaram in the modern Ramanathapuram District of India.
In 1450, a Tamil military leader named Chempaha Perumal under the directive of the Sinhalese king Sapumal Kumaraya of the Kotte kingdom invaded the region which remained under the control of the Kotte kingdom up to 1467. After that, the region once again came under the Jaffna kingdom.
The Arayachakravrati dynasty ruled the Jaffna kingdom from the 13th until the 17th century, when the last ruler of the dynasty, Sankili II, also known as Sankili Kumaran confronted the Portuguese. Thereafter, the entire pearl fishery on both the Sri Lankan and the Indian side of the Gulf of Mannar came under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Portuguese.
The pearl fisheries of the Gulf of Mannar were controlled independently of one another, by the Pandya, the Chola or by the regional rulers on the Indian side, and by the Sinhalese or Tamil kings on the Sri Lankan side. Sometimes, the two fisheries came under the jurisdiction of the same authorities, such as the Pandyas, the Cholas, the Portuguese (in 1619), the Dutch (in 1658), and the British (1796), whoever controlled the regions on both sides of the Gulf of Mannar.
To mark the end of the harvest season, the Tamils in Tamilnadu, Puducherry, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, celebrate the festival called Pongal (பொங்கல்) or Thai Pongal(தைப்பொங்கல்). The farmers in these regions thank the Sun, the principal energizer that helps to reap a bountiful harvest.
In Tamilnadu and Puducherry, Pongal is a four-day festival comprising Bhogi Pandigai, Thai Pongal, Maatu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal. The Pongal festivities begin on the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi and culminates on the third day of the Tamil month Thai (January 13 to January 16 in the Gregorian calendar).
Cattle are important and are a form of wealth to people living in rural areas all over the world.
In Hinduism, the bull Nandi is the mount (Vahana), attendant (gana) of the god Shiva, and also the gatekeeper-deity of Kailashagiri, the abode of Shiva. According to a legend linked to Mattu Pongal, Shiva sent Nandi from the heavens to earth to deliver his message to the people on earth that they should have an oil bath every day and eat once a month. Nandi inadvertently advised delivered the message that people should take an oil bath once a month and eat every day. When Shiva came to know of his message related to food delivered wrongly, he was annoyed and in a fit of rage, banished Nandi to earth to live permanently among the farmers and help them to produce the extra food crops needed for the people to eat every day.
The rural folks in Tamilnadu and the Tamils in Sri Lanka dedicate the third day of the four-day-long Pongal festivities to their cattle and call it Maattu Pongal (மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்). Though the name Maattu Pongal seems specific to Tamil Nadu, it is also celebrated in other southern states such as Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
According to the Gregorian calendar, Maattu Pongal is celebrated on January 15, the second day of the Tamil month Thai((தை ).
The rural folk show their affection towards their cattle by applying kungumam (kumkum) on their cattle’s foreheads and garlanding them. They then feed their cattle with a mixture of venn pongal (sweetened rice), jaggery, banana, sugar cane and other fruits.
The sport of Jallikkattu (bull embracing)
In many parts of Tamilnadu, the youths take part in the adventurous ancient sport of Jallikkattu (or sallikattu), also known as Manju virattu (chasing the bull), and eruthazhuvatal (bull embracing) to celebrate Mattu Pongal.
Proof of Jallikattu, as an ancient sport of Tamil Nadu, has been corroborated from rock paintings of ‘bull chasing sport’ discovered on massive rock surfaces at Karikkiyur in Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, which are dated between 2,000 B.C. and 1,500 B.C.
Initially, and were a mild form of sport in the in the southern part of Tamil Nadu, particularly in Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjavur.
The sport was held in the afternoon or evening of the Mattu Pongal day. After worshipping and feeding the bulls in the morning, their owners tied money in the form of coins or notes on the horns of the bulls and let them loose among the crowd. Young boys chased and lassoed the bulls to retrieve the money tied to their horns.
Nayak dynasties emerged after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire. During the Nayak rule in Tamil Nadu, this traditional harmless bull-chasing sport transformed into the present form of Jallikattu, which is a bloodier bull-wrestling sport.
Nowadays, ferocious Bos indicus or Bos taurus indicus bulls, also known as indicine cattle or humped cattle, characterised by a fatty hump on their shoulders such as the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are selected, trained, and released into a crowd of people. The youngsters to exhibit their valour endeavour to subjugate the bulls by attempting to grab the large hump on the bull’s back with both arms and hang on to it attempting to bring the bull to a stop while it tries to escape. Participants who hold the hump for a long period are declared winners.
In Tamil, the word Pongal means “overflowing”, signifying abundance and prosperity. The Tamils in Tamilnadu, Puducherry, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, celebrate the festival called Pongal(பொங்கல்) or Thai Pongal(தைப்பொங்கல்). This festival marks the end of the harvest season. The farmers thank the Sun, the principal energizer that helps to reap a bountiful harvest.
In Tamilnadu and Puducherry, Pongalis a four-day festival. It begins on the last day of the TamilmonthMaargazhi (மார்கழி ) and culminates on the third day of the TamilmonthThai((தை ) – January 13 to January 16 in the Gregorian calendar.
In Tamil, the phrase “ThaiPirandhalVazhiPirakkum” meaning “the birth of Thai heralds new prospects” is an oft-quoted popular saying among the Tamils.
The four days of Pongal are Bhogi Pandigai, Thai Pongal, Maattu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal.
Of the four-days Harvest festival, the second day is the principal day of the festival.This day is known as Thai Pongal by the Tamils and they celebrate it on January 14, the first day of the month of (தை).
All the states in India celebrate thisday which coincides with MakaraSankranthi, a winter harvest festival. On thisday the Sun begins its six-month-long journey northwards or the Uttarayanam. This also represents the Indic solstice when the sun entersMakara(Capricorn), the 10th house of the Indian zodiac.
In Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Sri Lanka and Malaysia it is celebrated as Thai Pongal.
In Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, and Uttar Pradesh, this day is is celebrated as MakaraSankranthi.
Gujarathis and Rajasthanis celebrate it as Uttarayana.
In Haryana, HimachalPradesh and Punjab it is celebrated as Lohri.
Assamese celebrated it as MaghBihu or BhogaliBihu.
Nepaesel celebrate it as MagheSankrantior Makar Sankranti.
In Tamilnadu, it is a tradition for the housewives to boilmilk at dawn in a new clay pot. When the milkboils and spills over the vessel, the folk blow the (a conch) yell “PongaloPongal!“ The Tamils consider watching the milkboil and spill over as auspicious as it connotes “good luck and prosperity.“
Later, the women prepare Pongal by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new clay pots. When the rice is half-cooked, sugar, ghee, cashew nuts and raisins are added to the pot. This traditional preparation of sweet rice or Chakkarai Pongal derives its name from the festival.
Newly cooked rice is first offered to the Sun at sunrise as gratitude for a bountiful harvest. Women prepare savouries and sweets such as vadai, murukku, payasam, etc., which they share with their neighbours.
The cynosure in most village festivals in Tamilnadu would be entertainment items such as the theru koothu, karakaattam, dancing, singing, drama or a pattimandram (debating platforms), etc. But, what many, even in Tamilnadu, do not know is the fact that this nondescript village enacts 100 dramas every year to please the village deity – “Thaanaai mulaitha Thanilinga Perumal” (தானாய் முளைத்த தனிலிங்கப் பெருமாள்) meaning “self-sprouted Thanilinga Perumal”. So much so, the villagers do not fancy cinema theatres.
Even in this modern scientific era, women barred from entering the Thanilinga Perumal temple, pray to the deity standing outside the temple.
On the stage erected in front of the temple, the villagers allow only performance of dramas. They consider the stage sanctified and none can approach it wearing any kind of footwear.
According to a former village headman, the deity Thanilinga Perumal loves staged dramas; hence his devotees perform dramas 100 days per year to please him.
Devotees entreat the deity to fulfil their request and in return pledge to stage a drama of their liking when the deity answers their prayers.
This tradition of staging dramas in this particular village dates back to the days of Thirumalai Nayakkar who ruled Madurai from 1623 to 1659 when a severe drought brought famine to Valayankulam and other surrounding villages. Since the people believed the deity Thanilinga Perumal loved staged drama, they pledged to perform a drama if he answered their prayer for rain. Miraculously, it rained and the village had a bountiful harvest. As obligated, the villagers staged a drama the following year to thank their village deity. From then on to date, the village has been performing dramas to please their deity.
Around this time, when king Thirumalai Nayakkar visited the Thanilinga Perumal temple, the villagers entertained him by performing a drama from Mahabharata titled “Abhimanyu Sundari” – the story of Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna and Subhadra, and his first wife Sundari. The king relished the play and praised the actors who took part in it, and those actors adopted the phrase ‘Thirumalai mechinaar‘ (திருமலை மெச்சினார்) meaning ‘Praised by Thirumala’ as their family name.
Consequently, the first play performed during the drama festival would always invariably be Abhimanyu Sundari performed exclusively by members of the Thirumalai mechinaar families
Every year the drama festival begins on Maha Sivarathri or ‘Great Night of Shiva’, a Hindu festival celebrated annually in reverence to mark the marriage of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati – the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. From that day onwards the villagers enact a drama daily for 100 days without any interruption.
The villagers believe that if anyone prays to their deity and pledges to stage a drama, the deity would hearken to their prayers. The villagers of Valayankulam boast that barren couples who pray for issues would come to the temple the following year with their offsprings and offer their thanks by sponsoring a drama.
In the past, when there was no electricity, the villagers lit the stage using flaming torches. Hence even now, to uphold the tradition, the villagers carry flaming torches from the village square to the stage with pomp and ceremony before the day’s play begins. When the torch bearers reach the stage, the pujari or archaka (priest) performs special ceremonies in the temple.
After paying the due respects to the seniors of the village, the play will begin at 10:00 pm and will proceed till 5:00 am the following day. The pujari keeps the door of the sanctum sanctorum open during this time for the deity to view the play.
The drama festivities will culminate on Chithra Fullmoon Day followed by a banquet for people belonging to all castes.
The minimum cost of staging a play by mediocre actors would amount to ₹25,000 and might go up to ₹60,000 to ₹1,00,000 if performed by cinema actors. Almost all Tamil drama actors and artisans connected with the dramatic art have performed or taken part on the stage at Valayankulam before the deity Thanilinga Perumal.
Staging a play at Valayankulam whenever one likes is not easy as anyone might think. Devotees who have pledged to sponsor a play have to pay ₹100 and wait in a long queue for at least a year to stage it on a stipulated date.
Note: I gleaned most of the above details from the article published in dhinasari.com written in Tamil titled, “வருடத்தில் 100 நாட்கள் நாடகம் நடைபெறும் கிராமம்” (“A village where dramas are performed 100 days per year”) by Mr. S.P. Senthilkumar, a reputed Tamil journalist from Madurai, Tamilnadu, India.
The incidents that happened over the last twelve days in Jaffna have been given ethnic and political hues by the media in Sri Lanka.
Pungudutivu (Tamil: புங்குடுதீவு) is an islet composed of a few villages, west of the Jaffna Peninsula in Sri Lanka. The Dutch colonial rulers named the islet as “Middleburg” during their occupation of Ceylon.
In 1990, when Pungudutivu came under the control of the LTTE, the rich and the educated inhabitants left the islet for safety and greener pastures. Some shifted to Colombo while others left Sri Lanka.
After the Government forces recaptured Pungudutivu from the LTTE, about one-third of its former inhabitants returned to the islet. Many found their abodes in a dilapidated state. As of now, this islet is a paradise for smugglers of Sri Lanka and South India. Many of them indulge in the lucrative trafficking of heroin.
On May 13, 2015, Sivayoganathan Vidhya, a 17-year-old Advance Level student of Pungudutivu Maha Vidyalayam did not return home after school. The worried family members contacted her school and her friends. They learned that Vidhya had not attended school that day.
The family members went to the police station to lodge a complaint. The police told the family to search for the girl on their own. A policeman in a nonchalant manner blurted out a pithy stock and irresponsible rejoinder, “Don’t worry. She must have eloped with her lover. She will return in a few days.“
The following morning, Vidhya’s brother went out searching for her. He followed the route she takes from school to her home. He found one of his sister’s slippers. From there, he followed the trail to a remote jungle area and found the mutilated corpse of his sister. It was a gruesome sight – her hands tied above her head with her school tie, her legs spread apart and tied to two trees, her mouth gagged with a piece of cloth.
Vidhya’s brother shouted and soon some residents gathered at the scene. Police arrived and sent the teenage girl’s corpse for postmortem examination.
According to the police reports, some time ago, S. Saraswathi, the mother of the rape victim had witnessed a robbery committed in a doctor’s house by three brothers. After that, she had appeared at the courts and testified against them. Suspecting that they might have committed the sordid crime to avenge her, the police arrested the three brothers as suspects.
Based on the statements of the three brothers, the police arrested five others on the following day. One of them worked in the Pradeshiya Sabha office in the area and the other four employed in Colombo.
On the day of the incident, the five suspects had arrived in Pungudutivu from Colombo. After the gang rape and murder of Vidhya, they left for Colombo. They came again to Pungudutivu and attended Vidhya’s funeral. After the funeral, before they could return to Colombo the police arrested them.
The nine apprehended suspects revealed that a person named Mahalingam Sivakumar alias Kumar was the leader of their gang that raped, tortured and murdered the teenager. Sivakumar, a resident of Pungudutivu, a heroin baron and one who engages in other illegal activities is a Swiss national of Sri Lankan Tamil origin. He had recently returned to Sri Lanka from Switzerland.
That night, residents of Pungudutivu seized Mahalingam Sivakumar and tied him to a pillar. After venting their rage by humiliating him, they handed him over to the police. Hitherto, the police had not received any complaints against Mahalingam Sivakumar.
The deputy minister of women’s affairs for the area intervened for the release of Mahalingam Sivakumar.
According to the media, Dr V.T. Tamilmaran, the Dean of the faculty of law at the Colombo University, is a relative of Mahalingam Sivakumar. Tamilmaran is one of those among the educated who left Pungudutivu earlier. Now, he aspires to contest the Pungudutivu electorate at the next election.
The website lankanews.com reports that according to information seeping from within the police itself, and according to the stories doing the rounds across the whole of the north, Dr Tamilmaran approached his friend, the senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe in charge of the North. He told the DIG that Mahalingam had returned only recently to Sri Lanka from Switzerland. He stressed that Mahalingam was innocent. Some sources say that the senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe had reportedly taken a bribe of four million rupees to release Mahalingam Sivakumar, the prime suspect.
Some media sources say that Mahalingam Sivakumar, the prime suspect was set free by the police.
Some other media sources say that on the instructions of the senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe, arrangements were made for Sivakumar to escape while taking him to the hospital for treatment for the wounds he had incurred when the residents of Pungudutivu seized and humiliated him. Sivakumar then fled to Colombo.
The people of the North were shocked, provoked, furious and enraged over the escape of the prime suspect even after the residents of Pungudtivu helped the police by apprehending and entrusting him to their custody.
Mahalingam Sivakumar rented a room in a lodge in Wellawatte, Colombo. The lodge owner noticing the bruises on Sivakumar’s body informed the Wellawatte police. So, on May 19, 2015, the police arrested Sivakumar the second time inadvertently and not through efforts initiated by them. If the lodge owner had not informed the police, the rapist-murderer would have escaped from Sri Lanka.
Some media reported that on May 19, 2015, the residents who were in an explosive and justifiable rage, held Dr Tamilmaran, his London-based daughter who is in Sri Lanka on a holiday, and a few others as captives. They demanded that the police should apprehend the criminal Mahalingam Sivakumar immediately. About five and a half hours later, the police informed the people that Sivakumar was in the custody of the Wellewatte police. Though the people did not trust the information, they nevertheless released Dr Tamilmaran and others.
If we look at the other side of the story, Dr V.T. Tamilmaran, told Ceylon Today that Pungudutivu being his hometown, he had gone there to assess the situation over the brutal killing of Vidhya. He said:
“I am very much aware of the misconduct of one of the 10 suspects who returned from Switzerland. The suspect M. Kumar visited Pungudutivu on and off, and whenever he arrived there he created big problems for the people in the area. In fact, I sought Police assistance in arresting the suspect. However, the guy had managed to escape while he was in Police custody.”
Dr Tamilmaran also added that when he attended a meeting on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, over the incident in Pungudutivu there were some men who were under the influence of liquor shouting in abusive language against him. He said that certain political elements were behind tarnishing his image following the recent speculation of his entry into politics. He also said that he was much disturbed over the incident in his village Pungudutivu, which had produced several eminent personalities in the field of education, and many leading businessmen in the country hailed from his village.
The news of the sordid crime spread among the people of the north like wildfire.
Students, teachers and staff of the nine schools in Poonguditheevu, the staff of the Department of Education, and the general public from all walks of life gathered on the grounds of the Maha Vidyalaya. There they staged a protest against the rape and killing of the 17-year-old student.
On May 21, 2015, the business community in the North staged a hartal to protest against the alleged rape and killing of the teenager. All shops in the North remained closed and people stayed away from their workplaces.
Protesters gathered in the vicinity of the Magistrate Court and the Police Station in Jaffna.
Out of anger and hate, people protested. Fearing the Police would let the suspects off the hook, the violent mob attempted to harm the eight arrested suspects while the police escorted them. The mob also attacked the police personnel who tried to save suspects from being assaulted.
When the protesters found that the main suspect Mahalingam Sivakumar was not brought to the court, the mob turned restive and pelted the court premises with stones.
The police responded by firing tear gas shells to disperse Jaffna mob. Around 130 suspects were remanded on charges of unlawful assembly and stoning the Jaffna Courts Complex.
On May 22, 2015, the Jaffna court issued an order banning all demonstrations in Jaffna. The order was issued to Janatha Balaya Organisation, Jaffna Women’s organization and Northern Provincial Councillor Anandi Shashidharan.
The media as usual focussed on the public protests rather than focussing on the reason behind it, namely rape.
There are suggestions that Mahalingam Sivakumar, the main suspect in the rape cum murder case, is well-connected as can be seen in the following photographs that I came across on Naangal Yaalpanam/Facebook.
The photo shown below circulated in the media of Mahalingam Sivakumar, posing with former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse is morphed for political gains. In the original photograph, it was ‘Swiss Ranjan’ an opponent of the LTTE, now residing in Switzerland. .
There is always a blessing that springs out of any adversity. Sri Lankans are now reacting to this incident not as Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims, Burghers, or Malays, but as one people of a country unified in its disgust and horror on learning about the raping of the 17-year-old Tamil maiden.
On Friday, May 22, 2015, Wijedasa Rajapakshe, incumbent Minister of Justice shamed a racist media person in public by retorting:
“… we’re not Tamil, Muslim or Sinhala, but simply human.”
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
– Mother Teresa
Born in 1981, Narayanan Krishnan, a former award-winning chef hails from Madurai, Tamilnadu, India.
In 2002, while working at Taj Hotels, Bengaluru, India, he secured a job as a chef in a five-star hotel in Switzerland. Before heading for Europe, he went to his birthplace to see his parents. There, on his way to a temple, he saw a distressing scene. Narayanan recalls:
“I saw a very old man, literally eating his own human waste out of hunger. I went to the nearby hotel and asked them what was available. They had idli [rice cake], which I bought and gave to the old man. Believe me, I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness.”
Narayanan forfeited the job in Switzerland. From June 2002 onwards, using his savings of about $2500, he started distributing around 30 food packets a day for the destitute in and around Madurai City.
Narayanan Krishnan action reminds me of an incident in the Gospel of Mark:
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)
In 2003, Narayanan Krishnan founded the nonprofit Akshaya Trust. In Sanskrit, Akshaya means “non-depleting.” In Hindu mythology, Goddess Annapoorani fed the hungry with the never depleting “Akshaya bowl”. Krishnan said that he chose the name Akshaya “to signify that human compassion should never decay or perish … The spirit of helping others must prevail forever.”
Narayanan Krishnan wakes up every day at 4 am and with his team, prepares a simple hot meal. After loading the cooked food in a donated van, the team goes out to feed around 400 destitute, mentally disabled, and elderly people in Madurai. He provides them breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Narayanan Krishnan shaves a destitute.
He not only feeds the needy, he has also acquired the skills of a barber. With the comb, scissors and razor he carries along with him, he cuts hair and shaves those he serves, transforming them into dignified persona. Krishnan says:
“I cut their hair, I give them a shave, I give them a bath. For them to feel, psychologically, that they are also human beings, that there are people to care for them, that they have a hand to hold, and a hope to live. Food is one part, and love is another part. So, the food will give them physical nutrition, and the love and affection which you show will give them mental nutrition.”
Narayanan Krishnan, born into the Brahmin caste says:
“Brahmins are not supposed to touch these people, clean these people, hug these people, feed these people. Everybody has got 5.5 liters of blood. I am just a human being. For me, everybody is the same. “
Many destitute people do not know their names or where they come from. Some, because of their conditions, are paranoid and hostile. They do not beg, ask for help or offer thanks. Even then, their attitude only helps strengthen Krishnan’s steadfast resolve to help them.
“The panic, suffering of the human hunger is the driving force in me and my team members of Akshaya,” he said. “I get this energy from the people. The food which I cook … the enjoyment which they get is the energy. I see the soul. I want to save my people.”
In 2010, Narayanan Krishnan was in “CNN heroes 2010” list. He was selected among the top 10 out of 10,000 nominations from more than 100 countries.
Narayanan Krishnan summarizes his goal:
“What is the ultimate purpose of life? It is to give! Start giving. See the joy in giving.“
The above image of a snake makes regular rounds of the Internet every few months or so. Each time the incident was purported to have occurred in a different geographic locale.
Today, once again, I came across the same photograph of a distended snake with the caption: “ANACONDA EATS WOMAN ALIVE!”
In August 2012, someone using this photograph, claimed a serpent ate a man in Qujing, China.
In January 2013, the snake swallowed another person in Jakarta, Indonesia,
In February 2013, it gobbled a man whole in Panama.
In June 2013, it devoured a woman near Durban North, South Africa.
In October 2013, the snake gulped down a 4-year-old child in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia.
In November 2013, the python made its way to Attapady, Kerala, India to swallow a drunkard lying beside the liquor shop.
Now, you be the judge.
The Python reticulatus also known as the (Asiatic) reticulated python, is a species found in Southeast Asia. The specific name, reticulatus, is Latin meaning “net-like”, or reticulated, and is a reference to the complex color pattern. They are the world’s longest snakes and longest reptile, but are not the most heavily built. Adult pythons can grow to 22.8 feet (6.95 metres) in length, and grow to an average length of 10–20 feet (3–6 metres). They are nonvenomous constrictors and not considered dangerous to humans. Although large specimens are powerful enough to kill an adult human, reports of attacks are rare. It is not found in countries such as South Africa.
The Boa constrictor
The Boa constrictor is a species of large, heavy-bodied snake. It is a member of the family Boidae found in North, Central, and South America, as well as some islands in the Caribbean. It has varied colour and pattern and are distinctive. Ten subspecies are currently recognized.
The anaconda is a large snake found in tropical South America. Although the name applies to a group of snakes, it is often used to refer only to one species in particular, the common or green anaconda, Eunectes murinus. It is one of the largest snakes in the world.
Although the name refers to a snake found only in South America, the name commonly used in Brazil is sucuri, sucuriju or sucuriuba.
Peter Martyr d’Anghiera suggested the South American names anacauchoa and anacaona. Henry Walter Bates questioned the idea of the origin of the South American names. Bates in his travels in South America, failed to find any similar name in use.
Some researchers believe the word anaconda is derived from the name of a snake from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In 1684 Andreas Cleyer described its habit. Cleyer described a gigantic snake that crushed large animals by coiling and crushing their bones.
Henry Yule in his Hobson-Jobson noted the word anaconda became more popular due to a piece of fiction by a certain R. Edwin published in 1768 in the Scots Magazine. Edwin described an anaconda crushing and killing a tyger when in fact tigers never occurred in Sri Lanka. Yule and Frank Wall noted that the snake was in fact a python. They suggested a word of Tamil origin anai-kondra (Tamil: ஆனை கொன்றா) meaning elephant killer.
A more-likely Sinhalese origin was suggested by Donald Ferguson. He said the word Henakandaya (Sinhalese: හෙනකන්දය; hena = lightning or large, kanda = stem or trunk) was used in Sri Lanka for the small whip snake (Ahaetulla pulverulenta).
Bhuvaneshwari means “The Queen of the Universe.” In Hinduism, there are ten Mahavidya goddesses and Bhuvaneshwari is the fourth. The goddess is an aspect of Durga or Devi. She can transform situations according to her wish. The Navagrahas (9 planets) and Trimurti (Trinity) cannot stop her from doing anything, and in Tamilnadu it is the same with actress Bhuvaneswari the dream girl of many South Indians, and nothing can stop her from getting involved into avoidable problems.
According to “Koppiyam” telecast on Raj TV, actress Bhuvaneswari, also known as the poonai kan (cat-eyed) Bhuvaneswari, the voluptuous and sexy actress South Indian B grade actress hails from Sankarankovil, Tirunelveli District, 56 km away from Tirunelveli City. She studied B.Com., at the Rani Anna Government College for Women, Tirunelveli. But other sources claim that Bhuvaneswari was born on June 4, 1975, in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, India; and a Facebook page bearing her name mentions her mother tongue is Hindi.
With her beautiful mien and voluptuous figure she got selected to act in an ad for a leading textile firm in T. Nagar, Chennai. From then on she received calls to act in minor roles in TV serials.
In 2002, due to a misunderstanding with a politician the police arrested her for prostitution. When she came out on bail, her husband left her with her child.
In 2003, film director Shankar offered Bhuvaneswari a chance to play the role of a prostitute in the movie “Boys” directed by him. She performed the role with alacrity using her real-life experiences. This movie was simultaneously released in Tamil and Telugu bearing the same name as the title.
Here is a clip from the Telugu version of the movie:
From then on Bhuvaneswari garnered young fans who revered her as their dream girl.
She was then offered scintillating sexy minor roles in many Telugu and Tamil films and seductive villainous roles in Tamil and Telugu TV serials, and more opportunities to prostitute herself came her way.
Politicians approached her for their party propaganda work. However, when problems arose due to her flesh trade, her high-profile clients and the politicians who banked on her glamour for propagating their party ideology, forsook her.
Bhuvaneswari got arrested more than once for running prostitution rackets in Chennai. In 2008, police arrested her for prostitution. However, she was given a clean chit and was released due to political pressure.
The proverb “Once bitten, twice shy” does not apply to actress Bhuvaneswari.
When the police received complaints from Bhuvaneshwari’s neighbors, they raided her apartment in Shastri Nagar, Chennai on Friday, October 2, 2009. Caught while entertaining her customers, Bhuvaneswari was once again arrested along with two of her accomplices for allegedly running a brothel at her residence.
Her arrest shook Kollywood and Tollywood. She said that she can name many major and minor actresses in the South Indian cine field who charged their clients lakhs of rupees per hour for entertaining within closed doors.
The police said that Bhuvaneswari ran a high-profile brothel for many years. According to reports from one source, she charged rates ranging from rupees 10,000 to two lakhs per hour for their services while another source said she charged two lakhs to seven lakhs.
She was later acquitted.
In late 2012, Bhuvaneswari went with her friends that included her lawyer Mr. Damodaran to see actor Vijay’s movie “Thuppaki” at Prarthana drive-in theatre in Injambakkam, a town in Kancheepuram district in Tamilnadu. As their car entered the premises of the drive-in theatre, it bashed into the car in front. An altercation ensued between their driver and Mr. Kumar the driver of the damaged car. Police reported that Lawyer Damodaran assaulted Kumar. Bhuvaneswari also got out of the car and harangued Kumar.
Selvaraj, an employee in the drive-in theatre tried to pacify the two parties and Bhuvaneswari’s friends beat him too.
On receiving information about the incident, police from Neelangarai Police Station arrived at the scene. While Sub-Inspector Krishnamoorthy and Jeep drive Bhaskar were admonishing Bhuvaneswari and her friends, a gang of thugs appeared on the scene and assaulted the policemen, the theatre staff, and a few members of the public who were in the theatre premises. The thugs also damaged flower pots and digital banners.
When they saw Sub-Inspector Krishnamoorthy staggering as a consequence of the blows he received, Bhuvaneswari and her friends scooted from the scene in their car.
The police registered a case against Lawyer Damodaran, actress Bhuvaneswari, and her friends under nine sections including attempt to murder, damaging public and private property, and so forth, and were on a constant lookout for them.
The police then received information that the absconding actress, the lawyer and others were on their way to Bengaluru via Velore by road. The alerted Ambur police and the highway police inspected all vehicles plying on that route.
At 10 am they stopped a Lenova car carrying Bhuvaneswari. When the police asked her whether she was Bhuvaneswari, she had replied that she was a businesswoman returning to her home in Bengaluru.
After actress Bhuvaneswari and Lawyer Damaodran were apprehended,. Six others involved in the case surrendered to the police, and all were lodged in the Puzhal Central Prison in Chennai.
Bhuvaneswari has acted in more than 50 films in Telugu and Tamil languages, such as Boys (2003), Donga Ramudu & Party (2003), Sema Ragalaiand (2004) Gudumba Shankar (2004), Konchem Touchlo Vunte Cheputanu (2005), Nuwante Naakistam (2005), Hello Premistara (2007), Kurkure (2008), Pinchu Manasu (2009), Vattapparai (2009), Nagaram (2010), Ranga The Donga (2010), Agarathi (2011), Gaali (2013), Sravya (2013), Ala Jarigindi Oka Roju (2013) and many more. Bhuvaneswari acted as the leading heroine in the film “Kurkure“.
On May 12, 2014, the officials of the Tirunelveli City Police and the District Revenue Department of Tirunelveli assembled at a spot in Asirvatha Nagar in Palayamkottai, Tamilnadu, India, and exhumed the body of a 36-year-old mechanical engineer and a film financier who was reported missing since January 2014.
According to the Police, Ronald Peter Prinzo, the deceased, hailed from Parapadi village in Nanguneri Taluk, Tirunelveli District, in Tamilnadu, India. He was married and had two sons.
Prinzo along with his friend Uma Chandran of Palayamkottai ran computer centers in many towns including Tenkasi, Alankulam, and Pavoor Chathiram. When the computer centers ran at a loss, Prinzo left for Kolkata. There he earned a good deal of money from various ventures. He then came to Chennai and started an online trading business. His friend Uma Chandran joined him as the partner and invested money in Prinzo’s online trading business.
After leasing a house in V.R.S. Nagar First Street, in Maduravoyal, West of Chennai, Prinzo traveled once a month to Tirunelveli to see his family.
Prinzo also financed Tamil films and had acted in a couple of them. Even though the two movies were never released, he got acquainted with many people in the cine field.
In 2012, he met the gentle, soft-spoken, 22-year-old Shruti Chandralekha, a married budding actress from Bengaluru, at a film shoot in Salem.
Shruti had acted in minor roles in some Tamil and Kannada films. She had gotten married when she was 16 to a person named Manjunath. But after a few years she left her husband and started acting in minor roles in Kannada and Tamil films.
Shruthi moved into Prinzo’s residence as his live-in partner.
After a few months, Prinzo started bringing many other women to his house for his carnal pleasure. This infuriated Shruthi and she quarrelled with him constantly.
The online trading failed. Prinzo’s business partner, Uma Chandran asked him to return the money he had invested. But Prinzo refused to pay him. After that Uma Chandran constantly pestered Prinzo for the money.
Prinzo forced Shruti into prostitution. He decided to make porn movies and relentlessly pressurized Shruti to take part in group sex in the porn films. He also started bringing many other women to his house for his carnal pleasure. This infuriated Shruthi and she quarrelled with him constantly.
An enraged Uma Chandran waited patiently for a chance to avenge Prinzo. He then came to know that Prinzo and Shruti were not getting along well. He and some of his friends met with Shruti and hatched a plot to murder Prinzo.
On the night of January 18, 2014, when Prinzo came home, Shruti gave him poisoned milk to drink while being intimate with him.
After the poison took effect, Uma Chandran, John Prinson, and their friends from Tirunelveli – Honest Raj alias Saddam, Gandhimathinathan alias Vijay, Vijay, Rafiq Usman, Vinoth Nirmal Singh and Elisa – entered the house and strangled Prinzo with nylon rope.
Shruti and the murderers reportedly took rupees 75 lakh in cash, a Volkswagen Polo car, and other valuables from Prinzo and shared the booty.
They took the body in a car all the way from Maduravoyal to Maharajanagar in Palayamkottai and buried the body in an already dug up deep trench in a vacant plot in Asirvatham Nagar.
A fortnight later, on February 1, 2014, Shruti lodged a complaint with the Maduravoyal police saying that her ‘husband’ Prinzo was missing since January 18, 2014.
On April 12, 2014, Justin Prinzo, elder brother of Ronald Prinzo lodged a similar complaint at the Palayamkottai Police Station about his missing younger brother.
On May 10, while returning to Tirunelveli from Chennai, Justin saw his brother’s car in Madurai. When he intercepted it, he found John Prinson driving it. When Justin asked about his brother Prinson gave contradictory answers and said Prinzo had gone to Calcutta. Not satisfied, Justin informed the police about Prinzon driving his missing brother’s car.
The Maduravoyal police picked up Prinson and he confessed to the crime.
By the time the police arrived, Shruti and Uma Chandran absconded. The police arrested Uma Chandran’s accomplices Sadam, Vijay, Rafeeq and Vinoth.
On May 12, 2014, Prinzo’s body was exhumed after Uma Chandran’s accomplices showed the officials of the Tirunelveli City Police and the District Revenue Department of Tirunelveli the spot where they buried the dead body. A post-mortem was conducted on the recovered remnants of Prinzo’s decomposed dead body.
In the meantime, Maduravoyal police received information that Shruti was taking part in a shooting of a Tamil film at Mahabalipuram. Before the police arrived, Shruti took off from the shooting venue along with her new paramour Uma Chandran and his aide Vinoth Nirmal.
The police then received a tip-off that she was hiding in the house of a relative in Bengaluru. But again, she escaped to Hyderabad. Shruti and Uma Chandran confounded the police by skipping from one place to another.
Eventually, on Thursday, September 4, 2014, Chennai police apprehended Shruti in Bengaluru. Shruti was produced before a court and remanded.
The hunt is now on to nab Uma Chandran, the prime accused, and his aide Vinoth Nirmal.