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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2551

Under the shadow of Lakegalan: 7.Hena as a part of the village life

Under the shadow of Lakegalan

7.Hena as a part of the village life

By Sudath Gunasekera

Apart from its economic significance hena also occupies an important place in the village social and cultural life. Its distance from home, isolation, the need for men to be away from home to watch the hena in the night, the risk, roughness and the loneliness associated with paelrekiima are some of the peculiar characteristics that have earned a special place in the rural set up for hena sub-culture. The cultivation practices, methods of management, language employed and the entire modus operandi associated with hena are different from that of the paddy field. Volumes of folklore associated with paelrekiima (watching) and Kurahan kepiima (Kurahan harvesting) forms an invaluable part of Sinhala literature. The drudgery, loneliness, romanticism, cynicism, the beauty and sometimes the elegiac tone that flow through the lines of this folk poetry presents a veritable mirror image of sorrows and joys as well as the romantic aspects of rural life.

Pael rekiima is a risky and an arduous job. To be away from home in the night, alone in a not so well protected hut, exposed to elements of weather as well as the hazards of jungle life, specially in the rainy months of November and December beating the mosquitoes and keeping up the whole night pulling the Takaya and shouting ho- ho now and then to drive away the wild animals is really sickening. But the pleasure one gets the next morning when he sees that there is no damage to his crops, he gets adequately rewarded for all such pain. The darker side of paelrekiima is nicely portrayed in the following sivpadaya. They consider paelrekiima to be the result of perapav (sins committed by them in the previous birth).

Perakale karapu akusal paladiila
Ada kale vinditi duk pelvalata vela
Perakale sitan purudui pael rekala
Api rale kiyamu pael kavi mula purala

Kele gosin inikaepuva ketta dani
Wele gosins weta benda niyara dani
paele gosin pael rekka paedura dani
Meda yale vii neti bava atuwa dani

Ella padu api Meemure gamata wela
Bella kaedei Galkada hela vi edala
Golla samanga nedeyin ekatuwela
Yanna yamuda Meemure gama atherala

Henata giyoth rilavungen karachchale
Kumburata giyoth giravungen karachchale
Gedarata giyoth daruwangen karachchale
Kavada nimak vēdo me karachchale

The sad story of a young man who had to be alone in the hena in the night as the hand of his sweet heart was to be given to another man is vividly depicted in this poem.

Re pel rakina kurahan pehena hene
Mage taninotaniyata nubavath netuvane
Hetadina numbath diigeka giya pasu nene
Mase poyada vagei gammane

The girl in reply says that he has not done enough merit in the previous birth to get her hand.

Egodaha gode ismattedi dutuwata
Elakandiye indagena ata wenuwata
Mage hitumanapeta man baha dunnata
Nadan massine pera pin netuwata

But she wishes that his massina *the cousin) should lead a happy life even though she is not with him. She also wishs that he sould get a situkumari (a very rich girl) and be protected by God Pattini and Gambara.Also she wishes that she may be renmeberd on the day he harvests his Kurakkan.

Nena netath kala dawasak gewennai
Situ kumariyak karakareta lebennai
Patini gambara deviyan rakinnai
Kurahan kapanada ma sihi karannai

Another young man who has apparently gone to some other dame leaving the pedura on the plinth finds it robbed by some one else on his return. Now he has to explain to his wife when he returns home. So he makes a deep plea asking the one who took it to return the mat.

Ane deviyane mata vu viyoya
Pele pedura horu aragena giyoya
Gedara giyakalata anda dabara boya
Pedura dun kenek mage ne siyoya

Ape pirimi pel yanava kiyala
Pele gosin gini molava tiyala
Reta avith agupilvala lega indala
Udeta ei pel legga kiyala

This is how another man whose love is dead and gone, leaving behind only the sweet memories and the mats full of rata (beautiful patters) woven with her lovely hands laments

Pele padura henata aragena yanawa
Ela peduda messe ma setapenawa
Rata viyapu atdeka mata sihiwenava
Hite dukata etakota kavi kiyawenava

Meanwhile this is how a lonely man sitting in the Ambalama at the center of the village laments when the rain bird seeing the rainy clouds howers over and the devil bird makes its ominous call in the night.

Mandaramata uda igilena wehi leni
Gonuge pite patawanne bara goni
Gama meda ambalama katath paraveni
Mata taniyai numba nadan ulaleni

At the same time he does not forget to adore and admire the beauty and the colossalness of Lakegala when he sees this towering monolith standing before him.

Gale usa boya gala usa balannata
Gale wata boya galawata duwannata
Seke beriya padakarala kiyannata
Lakegala sondai dageba badinata

Epita konata Kalupana keleya
Mepita konata Laggala Meemureya
Desiya dekak usa eti gombareya
Sondai parakasa Laka Meemureya

Breaking the stillness of the midnight you may hear the crying of a lonely barking deer or the frightening mewing of a leopard from a near by jungle. You may also hear the sound of a gunshot either by a hunter or an automatically triggered off trap gun on the outskirt of the village. One who is engaged in paelrekiima has to keep up the whole night. Otherwise wild animals will destroy the crop. Reciting paelkavihelps them to keep up the whole night. They also drive away the wild animals and dispel their loneliness.

- Asian Tribune -

Also Read:

1. Under the shadow of Lakegala

2. Under the shadow of Lakegala

3. Under The Sadow of Lakegala : Meemure

4. Under the Shadow of Lakegala: Of Their Paddy Cultivation

5. Under the shadow of Lakegala 6. Of Their HÄ“n Cultivation

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