Sunday, March 31, 2013

Demanding their space and rights

                  Text and pix by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai 

 "Stop Rape" immediately protesters chanted

Protest before pouring

A Promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”, was the theme for the International Women’s Day, that fell on March 8th with the theme for this year being Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum”.

Women from the United States organized the first women’s day in 1908, but to a special day to celebrate their contribution to the world, and to focus on their specific issues came through an official declaration in Copenhagen, Denmark during the second International Socialist Women’s Conference. The day had been dedicated, and celebrated ever since. Thousands of women marched to demand voting rights, and eight hours of work.

This year, two separate protests were held in Colombo to mark the International Women’s Day, organized by Free Women (Frontline Socialist Party), and Women for Rights. Women’s rights activists gathered to demand for their delivery of justice on time, and to end violence against women, shouting slogans, carrying creative banners, displays and placards.

Protest against Violence Against Women

Creative display of migrant women going to the Middle East to work

 "Don't; Don't; Don't abuse women" protesters chanted

 Placard at protest

Display by Free Women

 Protester against VRO

"A Society with LOVE" sensible and timely banner by Free Women

 "Men! stop raping women" protesters chanted

Protester with a creative corn with "Stop Rape" message

 Drawing of Rizana Nafeek's execution at International Women's Day protest

"Don't abuse women for cheaper labour" protesters chanted

"Airport" reads text in Sinhala, drawing depicting the women migrant workers going and returning in body bag

 Preparing to Protest

Protesters carrying drawings of Former Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake and Rizana Nafeek

 Protesters rallying around Lipton Circus

Women protest with many messages as drawings

Drawing of Former Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake at International Women's Day protest

"Stop harassing women in North and East" reads placard in Tamil

 Protester along the pavement at Lipton Circus

 "Let's celebrate the 100th incident of violence against women in Akuressa" reads text in Sinhala

Division between the rich and the poor depicted in a drawing

 "It's everybody's duty to protect women and children" protesters chanted

Women protesting with banner, placard and slogans

 Women protesting for protection

 Pictorial on Ceylon Today


In reverence of Goddess Amman

             Text and pix by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai 

Enchanting entrance gateway to the "Katpulaththu Manonmany Ambaal" temple enclosure

Temple worship is an integral part of Hinduism. Illustrative of this “Kopuram” or the tower over the main entrance of the temple is splendidly covered with sculpted images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, and celestial beings. The tower is meant to be visible from afar, so that devotees can even say their prayers from a distance. A popular Tamil saying goes “Kopura Tharisanam Kodi Punniyam" worshiping the tower of the temple is goodness in a million fold.

The “Katpulaththu Manonmany Ambaal” temple is situated in Nanthaavil, in Kokkuvil East in Jaffna District. Built in 1743, it’s one of the many famous “Amman” temples in the Jaffna Peninsula.. The temple was damaged like many other Hindu temples in the district during the war. A young Hindu priest was killed by the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) during their presence in the Peninsula in 1988, immediately after he completed performing the “pooja” at dawn. Later, the temple was purified and rebuilt, and now all the “poojas” are regularly performed. The annual temple festival takes place during the Tamil month of June.

Panguni Thingal” is an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar. It literally means “Mondays in March”, and celebrated on Mondays, which fall during the middle of March through the middle of April, and ending just before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

Devotees come as far as from Valvettiththurai ,Pointpedro and Chaavakachcheri to pay homage to Goddess temple, to worship, fulfill their vows and seek her blessings.

Among a handful of Goddess temples in Jaffna, “Panguni Thingal” is still celebrated with devotion. On “Panguni Thingal” days women throng the “Amman” temples, pray, prepare sweet rice along with “mothagam” or sweet dumplings, and “vadai” popular spicy doughnut. These specialties are offered to the Goddess, and then shared with families, friends and neighbours.

Sweet rice being prepared
 Monumental tower of Katpulaththu Manonmany Ambaal
These Tamil women have lost everything due to war and displacement
Popular saying in Tamil by Sangam period poetess Avvaiyaar ~ "Koyil Illa Ooril Kudiyirukka Vendaam" meaning "don;t live in a place where there is no temple"
Fine touch to prepare "mothagam", sweet dumpling
"We lost and suffered during the war. We pray to the Goddess to get our houses and lands back from the military without further delay" ~ displaced women from Palaly and Mylitty in Jaffna District
"Vadai", spicy doughnut being fried
Devotees preparing the specialties for the festival
Vibrant view from a distance
Prepare with Prayers
Ardent devotees from High Security Zone in Jaffna, and have been displaced for more than 20 years,live in Kokkuvil
Steamed "mothagam" or sweet dumplings
Series of sculptures at Sanctum 

 Taking the specialties home to share

Colourful and captivating view
Sunday pictorial on Ceylon Today


Friday, March 29, 2013

In a new role as bread winners

            Text and pix by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

My son has surrendered alongwith his family to the security forces on 18th May 2009. So far, I have not been able to find any of them” says Ponnamma Kanthasamy from Kandavalai in Kilinochchi District 

Women in the North and East were pushed to bear a double burden, after the men in the families were killed by the war, disappeared, surrendered or were detained during and after the end of the war. It remains a big challenge for many of these women who have no means of support, except to make a living out of anything that is available to them, now that the burden of providing for their families is weighing on their shoulders. 

 “I am struggling single -handedly after my son went missing in 2006. He was the sole breadwinner to our family. Now, at this old age, I have to stitch dresses and sell them to support myself”, says sixty-year-old Devi Kanthasamy from Kandavalai in Kilinochchi District. 

Without the financial support of their sons, brothers and husbands, these young and old women have to work hard to feed their family members. 

My husband, a farmer went missing in 2007. I have to do odd jobs to look after my daughter”, says twenty eight-year-old Thevakala Indrapalan from Vavuniya. 

There is hardly any support available for these women, except for the small projects that are operated by various organizations which are not sufficient to support this large group of people. 

Post-war, they are still awaiting an opportunity to rebuild their lives, and to have access to better incomes in their new role as sole bread winners. 

My son was abducted in 2006. I have searched everywhere, and I have not been able to find him” says to Ashadevi Shanmugalingam from Jaffna
My son has surrendered to the security forces on 18th May 2009. But, I have not yet been able to find him anywhere” says to Pushpaambaal Thanabalasingham, Kumuzhamunai, Mullaithivu District
My son is a fishermanand has been missing since 2008 from Mannar” says Sebamalai Sinthaththurai Perera
"My son, the only bread winner to the family has been missing since 2006" says Rajeshwary Manickvasaga Sharma
My son was abducted from house in 2008 from Mannar. He used to work and look after the family” says Uthayachandran Manuel
My son Eezharangan has gone missing since 2006. He was last seen at Omantahi checkpoint. He used to work as a lorry driver” says Devi Kanthasamy from Kandavalai in Kilinochchi District
 “My husband was a farmer, and went to the paddy field in Vavuniya on 17th May 2007. He took four youths who wanted to see the paddy field on a holiday” says Thevakala Indrapalan from Vavuniya

 “My son went to stitch a new pair of clothes to celebrate the Church feast, and he never returned from town. My son Jerome was 25 years-old at the time of missing. He went missing on in 2007 from Mannar” says Bernabet Sandya Sebasthiyaar

My son was abducted in front of me in 2008 in Jaffna, and I have not been able to find him yet” says Perinparani Thirunavukkarasu from Jaffna

 Pictorial on Ceylon Today