Surangani’s little known secret

Surangani-1By Arthur Wamanan

No one knows who Surangani is, no one knows why she wanted fish. But it is no secret that the phrase ‘Surangani ta maalu genawa’ has become a rage and has acquired cult status.

The song was composed by AE Manoharan, popularly known as Ceylon Manohar. Even he would not have expected the song to reach such great heights. Manoharan who is also known as ‘Pop Chakravarthi’ of Sri Lanka composed this song in the 1970s. The catchy tune and fast- paced baila beat made the song an instant hit islandwide. No party is complete without baila songs, and no baila is complete without a Surangani in the play list.

What is interesting is that the song, originally composed in Sinhala, gained wide popularity in our neighboring India. It was a time when Radio Ceylon was heard in Tamil Nadu. Surangani was an instant hit in Tamil Nadu, inspiring many composers in the region. Surangani inspired several prominent music composers in the State including Illaiyarajah, who is also known as Isaignani or ‘Maestro’. Continue reading →


Return of the Queen

Return of the Queen

By Arthur Wamanan

The Yal Devi is a story of its own. It was the only train which connected Colombo and Jaffna until the war between the Army and the LTTE intensified, resulting in its services being limited to Vavuniya. The Yal Devi traveled to Jaffna for the last time in 1990. That was the last time the people of the North heard the final sound of her horn.

Many things had happened since the last time she visited Jaffna. There was a time when all links to the peninsula were cut off and the only way people could gain access to the South was via sea.
There was a brief period of three years, when war was temporarily halted thanks to the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) signed in 2002. By this time, most part of the railway tracks beyond Vavuniya was either damaged, or missing. Beyond a certain point, while traveling along the A9, one could see only the pathway which indicated that there was once a railway line there.

Even after the CFA was signed 2002, no steps were taken to re-establish railway links to the North since no one was sure whether peace would continue or hostilities would resume. The CFA was looked at as only a mechanism that resulted in a temporary cessation of the war. Continue reading →