Friday, February 11, 2011

Queen of Murasumottai celebrates her centenary birthday

May you live to be 100 and may the last voice you hear be mine” ~ Frank Sinatra (1915 ~ 1998), (American Author and Singer)

100 ~ A Special Ribbon Birthday Cake for the centenarian Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah

Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah celebrated her centenary birthday on 6th of February 2011. She was born on 6th of February 1911 in her ancestral home in Chaavakachcheri in Jaffna Peninsula, North of Sri Lanka.It is a great miracle that she survived the brutal war. Her life, experience and challenges are unbelievable, but they are true.
She is a daughter of a priest. She had her education at Uduvil Girls College ~one of the famous Girl’s schools in Jaffna peninsula. After completing her studies, she went back to her home town Chaavakachcheri to serve the community in the Church and teach at Sunday school.

“I enjoyed cooking and serving food for all. I love to take care of others. I like all food. I led a healthy and wealthy life in my village ~ Murasumottai” says charming and soft spoken Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah who sits straight on a chair in a living room of her son’s house in Kalubowila.

Her children, daughters-in laws, grandchildren, great grandchildren, relatives and friends gathered today at St.Paul’s Milagiriya Church in Bambalapitty for Eucharistic Worship to celebrate her centenary birthday and wished her long life. Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah has 8 sons (her third son died when he was 18 year-old), 12 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.

She moved with her family to Murasumottai on 29th of April 1959, and continued to live there till she got displaced in 2009. She was evacuated months before celebrating the Golden Jubilee of “Navajeevanam” in 2009. She came to Colombo in October 2009 after spending some time in the IDP camp in Poonthottam, and later with her granddaughter in Vavuniya after the displacement. She did not want to come to Colombo, but her children wanted her to rest in Colombo for awhile. Her husband Reverend Thambyrajah was a Priest of Church of South India and he died in 1982.

She told me, when I met her in February 2010 ~ “I am the youngest in the family of five girls and three boys. I am the first person in our family who lived this long, and I very much want to go back to my lovely village Murasumottai, celebrate my centenary birthday and live there happily and die peacefully. It is my dream” mentioned Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah in her pleasant voice in 2010.

It was a miracle that we were not injured and survived. My sons carried me on a chair all the way throughout the journey. Initially I slept on the mat on the ground in the IDP camp. It was difficult for me, so I arranged a few suitcases on the ground and slept on them. I found this was better. I have seen things that I never thought I would in my life. I heard heart-rending tales of human suffering. Myriad memoires of war are like a long and bad dream. It is a God’s blessing that we all survived unhurt. I thank the God wholeheartedly. I thank him everyday for sustaining me throughout the life” says Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah with a big smile on her beautiful face. The war began when she was in her 60s and was already a grandmother. She remembers everything with clarity such as the disturbing memories of the decades of war.

I miss my beautiful village very much” says a very gracious person Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah while tears fill her eyes and about to trickle down.

She is the only surviving founding member and moving spirit of “Navajeevanam” (New Life), which was established in 1959, and provided education and rehabilitation for the children in need. It was a home for Tamil, Sinhala and Burgher boys. It is situated on Paranthan-Mullaitheevu main road in Kilinochchi district. Their motto is “Ready for Both: Service and Sacrifice”.

We built “Navajeevanam” brick by brick while facing physical and economical challenges. It withstood cyclone, floods and war. But, I heard recently that “Navajeevanam” has been destroyed during the last phase of the war in the Vanni, and the belongings were looted. Rubble and ruins are left. I feel very sad when I think about it. I pray for the wellbeing of the people I know. My heart and soul are with them” shares Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah with pain in her voice and emotions gather on her bright face.

Many call her “Amma”, her grandchildren call her “Appuchcha” while the others call her “Arul Aunty”. Her memory is intact and still strong .She is very well informed about the news from around the world. She remains a loving and caring person and strong-willed source of inspiration. She continues her habit of reading the newspapers and books daily in the morning.

As the French philosopher and Writer Michel de Montaigne said ~ “We are born to inquire into truth; It belongs to a greater to possess it”, she has experienced destruction, displacement, IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) life, loss, suffering and violence, nevertheless her courage and motivation can move the mountains.

View of St.Paul’s Milagiriya Church in Bambalapitty

Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah enters St.Paul's Milagiriya Church for Eucharistic Worship

Painting of Mother Mary carries Jesus Christ at St.Paul’s Milagiriya Church

Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah during the Thanks Giving Mass

Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah cuts the special cake

Special song composed and sung by Reverend. A. R.Mahendran in praise of her sacrifice and service to the community

Catholic priests who conducted the Eucharistic Worship to celebrate her centenary birthday

Relatives, friends and well-wishers gathered in large number to wish her

Reflection by Venerable. Chrishantha B. Mendis, Archdeacon of Colombo & Vicar, Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour. He spent sometime at "Navajeevanam"

Gift from her great ~ grand children

Kissing of her foot by a priest

Blessings by the priests

During the service

View of the Holy Bible

Holy Communion is being conducted

Another Painting at St.Paul’s Milagiriya Church

She is being helped

Greeting Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah

Dance performance by her grand daughters

Kiss for “Appuchcha” on her birthday

Songs are being sung by choir


Post a Comment

<< Home