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Sunday, 15 January 2012

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Schoolchildren's role in health activities

The participation of schoolchildren in the dengue eradication programs will be streamlined and strengthened this year, said the Education Minister Bandula Gunawardane.

Addressing a seminar on `Cleaning school environments', which was organised by the staff and students of Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala, Minister Gunawardane said in addition to normal school education, children should be partners of the country's health development activities too.

He said during last year, children of all schools in the country took part in various environmental cleaning programs in their respective schools with the help of area health authorities.

The Minister thanked schoolchildren for the support given to clean their school compounds and said such cleaning programs should be developed and carried out in the future too.

Quoting Health Department statistics, Minister Gunawardane said the Government spends a colossal sum of money every year to improve the health conditions of over 4.2 million schoolchildren in the country.

"We have also decided to establish dental clinics in every school before the end of this year, so that children will not have to go to other schools for this purpose," he said.

He also said that children will be encouraged to participate in regular health camps with the help of medical officers, so that various diseases contracted by children could be identified and steps taken to cure them.

When Junior Observer interviewed several principals and teachers of schools in Colombo including Royal, Ananda, Visakha, Devi Balika, Nalanda, DS and Mahanama and several schools in Kandy, Galle and Ratnapura districts, they said most of their children are regularly engaged in the school compound- cleaning programms and help destroy many mosquito breeding grounds.

A senior Educational Department official in the Kalutara District, A.P. Premasiri said a majority of children in the District take part in regular cleaning of mosquito breeding places and no complaints regarding dengue patients have been reported from the area for a long period.


Lotus Tower will blossom soon

The construction work on the world`s fifth tallest and South Asia's tallest multi-functional tower,Lotus Tower will commence on January 20 in the Colombo city.

The construction work is due to be completed within 1 1/2 years and is estimated to cost 104 million US dollars. The 350 m tall tower transmission tower named 'Lotus tower' (Nelum Kuluna) structured in the shape of a lotus flower, will be constructed at the eastern end of the Beira Lake in Colombo on a 3.06 hectares plot of land owned by the Urban Development Authority.

It will be a free standing tower with a four storey high podium a concrete tower shaft of moderate diameter eight storeyed tower head and a steel framed antennae mast mounted at the top.

The Tower will provide for telecommunication and leisure activities, and will facilitate the relaying of at least 50 separate broadcasting and telecasting services, provide facilities for about 10 service providers in telecommunication and relaying of defence signals, and in addition indirectly contribute to the riddance and removal of high power TV and FM antenna innumerably located at various buildings in the Colombo city.

Apart from facilities related to multi-functional telecommunication activities, the tower podium will also accommodate a telecommunication museum, food courts,administrative offices, exhibition spaces and corresponding amenities.

The Tower shaft will be a hollow concrete cylinder accommodating high speed lifts and stairs for vertical circulations, and ducts for various types of building services. The Tower head will comprise eight floor levels accommodating an observation deck,revolving restaurant, banquet hall for 1,000 guests and two floors of super luxury hotel accommodation along with facilities for building services, which will include fire detection, fire fighting, overhead storage tanks and telecommunication instruments,equipment and so on. - RJ


Thai Pongal , the harvest festival is today!

The first festival of the year, Thai Pongal falls today . It is a harvest festival and is held to honour the Sun god, Suriya, for a bountiful harvest.

Thai Pongal is timed by an astronomical event - the winter solstice. It marks the beginning of the northward journey of the Sun from its southernmost-limit, a movement traditionally referred to as uttarayana.It coincides with the festival Makara Sankranthi celebrated throughout India as the winter harvest, and is usually held from January 13-15 in the Gregorian calendar i.e. from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of Thai.

There is much joy and excitement on this day as families gather to rejoice and share their joy and their harvests with others after great preparation; new clothes are made or bought, homes and yards are cleaned and tasty food is made days ahead.

On the day of Pongal, early in the morning, everyone bathes and wears new clothes.

As the festival is held to honour the Sun god, the Sun is offered a "Pongal" of rice and milk.Pongal refers to rice cooked in milk and sweetened with brown sugar (chakkarai, from which the English word jaggery is derived).

One of the major attractions of the festival is the kolam drawing, which is a colourful decoration done on the floor using rice flour. Family members generally draw the kolam .

A kolam can be a plain one or can be artistically drawn with symbols of cosmic interest. The kolam defines the sacred area where the pongal is prepared. Within the perimeters of the kolam, typically, firewood is used to cook the rice.

The Pongal is set up in the direct view of the Sun (East). Traditionally, the kolam is laid in the front or side of the house, but in cold climes where cooking indoors with firewood is hazardous, the pongal can be prepared in the kitchen and brought to the location where the kolam is set up.

Once the pongal is ready a Padayal (the offering) is first made. Sharing of the Pongal with friends and relatives follows a few minutes of meditation or a prayer.

Thai Pongal is generally a three day festival which includes feeding the birds that are part of nature, and offering thanks to the cattle, Mattu Pongal, which gives milk and plough the fields.

We wish our Tamil readers

a happy Thai Pongal!

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