Count down to the next millennium

By Zanita Careem, Reporting from Palm Springs, CA
Below a fiery shower of brilliant colours, residents and tourists embraced, screamed reflected and expressed joy with the coming of the Year 2000.

Thousands of people turned out in Down Town Palm Springs to celebrate the MILLENNIUM festival in the heart of the city. For most of the evening party goers it seemed it was a giant village to be amused by street entertainers enjoying the company of friends and family. The night clubs didn’t boost their admission prices to extraordinary levels to attract healthy crowds with the kind of entertainment that fills their venues throughout the season.

The mayor of Palm Springs, Will Kleindieniest let the packed crowd in a minute by minute count down culmination of the New year followed by a ten minute fire work spectacle. Residents of Palm Springs enjoyed controlled fire works organized by the City. It is prohibited to light fire work in most counties and cities in the U.S. The reason behind this is to prevent accidents. In the past some of these fires have been the result for huge bush fires..

Night clubs, restaurants rolled out special menus and live bands. Some chose to put on their own parties. There were street bands, street performers who entertained the crowd as the night wore on. The menus were grand. Caviar platters, sea food buffets with jumbo shrimps to the size of a man’s fist, free flowing champagne and wine. In most places the tickets were sold out months ahead.

The General Manager of Westin Mission Hills, Bunty Ahamed said, "The tickets went up to $300.00 per couple. This is one of the most extravagant parties that we ever hosted. It’s spectacular because of the MILLENNIUM."

At the Palm Springs, Marquis an Elvis Presley fan club party drew people to feel the spirit of Elvis at his home he once owned in Palm Springs. "We can really feel the spirit of Elvis here" said one of the revellers. Among the crowd in Down Town Palm Springs were many snow birds, the so called tourists from Canada, France, Germany and people from the colder climes of the United States to ring in the most spectacular new year of the century.

As much as this event was a social gathering to many of the Americans, this was also a family event for some like the Ahameds. "We have been living here for more than Ten years and we usually spend the New Year with the family" said Mrs. Ahamed. My cousin who is a teenager had to work like many other youth who chose to work instead of night clubbing and partying. Evangaline Outschoon, Another Sri Lankan who has been living in Palm Springs for over Four years said, " We ring in the New Year by attending Mass and spending time with the family." According to Kim, an American, " The New Year is a sense of celebration and joy." For most others this was an evening to shake and dance. Most residents of Palm Springs are conscious about keeping fit. Therefore this sounds to be the the most common New Years resolution for the Year 2000.

To some extend the spirit of cheer was dampened by the fear of terrorism and Y2K computer glitches. The Y2K bug send thousands of people in California scurrying to but canned food, water, gas, and flash lights. "We sold over 3,000 bottles and 9,000 gallons of water during the last couple of days" said a Manager of a grocery store.

At the Whyndem hotel in Down Town Palm Springs the gay community celebrated the New Year with much fanfare. 3,000 gays gathered to celebrate the New Year. This was a night to remember Palm Springs. They were dressed in a wide array of attires from glittery costumes to tuxedos. There were a variety of the 70’s 80’s and 90’s clothes including sequined pants and frizy Zebra pants. This is billed to be the grandest gay event in Palm Springs.

 Among all these excitements a Mexican family was blessed with a baby girl. The mother entered the Desert hospital at 9.14 PM on 12/31 and gave birth at 12.00AM on Jan 1st. The baby weighed 6 Ibs and 11 ounces and she was 19" inches long.

The most anticipated celebration of the Y2K went off with much hope for a better tomorrow.

At the Cinema
A Thespian with rare talent

by Sanjeevi Jayasuriya
One need not say much about the talented stage, tele drama and film actor Vijaya Nandasiri. He touches the heart of the viewers through his unmatched acting skills which is indeed some thing that could be proud of. The variety of characters he has performed is a fine testimony of his capabilities and the viewers are sure of entertainment where he plays a role in any of the three fields in the performing arts.

A product of Vidyakara Vidyalaya, Maharagama, Vijaya Nandasiri had developed liking towards acting in whatever concert, drama or play the school has produced. But he was more interested in cadeting which he was a member in the platoon. With the passing of time, his interest to the art world surpassed the other interests and he took to the stage, while schooling.

The first stage drama Vijaya Nandasiri acted was "Vidura-Diva" produced by Amaradasa Gunawardena for the State Drama Festival held in 1966. By the invitation of the veteran drama producer Dayananda Gunawardena, he acted in "Naribena, Jasaya saha Lenchina", which marked the starting point of Vijaya Nandasiri’s stage acting career. He still is involved actively in this field, to the much delight of his viewers.

Vijaya Nandasiri considered, that meeting Prof. Sarathchandra was the biggest fortune he came across. Though one time employed as a catering officer at the Katunayake Airport, he has given up his job for the sake of the love for the arts. He has dedicated himself to acting and for the past 26 years, he plays the role of king Maname. He had also acted in Singha Bhahu, Mahasara and Ratnawalee. He entered the acting world in 1966, but he was made known to the viewers only in 1971, where he acted in "Ran Kanda".

There onwards it was a smooth sail for Vijaya Nandasiri. In "Subha Saha Yasa", "Nariya Saha Keju Kella", "Ekadipathi", Tharawo Egilethi", "Kuweni" and "Hunuwataye Kathawa", his performances contributed greatly for the success of these dramas. He had acted in 40 dramas in his 34 year long acting career. One may think that the number is small, but the fact is that he performed so well that these dramas were staged islandwide, limiting his engagement in other dramas.

Vijaya Nandasiri stepped in to the film world in 1976, an opportunity he got through acting in stage dramas. It came through T. B. Ilangaratne’s "Shailasanaya" where he met KAW Perera and was offered a role in the film "Nedayo". He had performed the main character of many films he acted. He has to his credit, the films "Yasa Isuru", "Sandakada Pahana", "Bengali Walalu", "Sasara" and "Rail Para". The film "Kshema Bhoomi" by Wijaya Dharma Sri and a few others are awaiting release.

He started acting tele dramas form the KAW Perera’s "Gamana" and "Pramada Wedei". He became a producer by presenting the teledrama named "Humalaya". He became a house hold name by acting in tele dramas such as "None waruni mahat waruni", "Samugath Wasanthaya", "Damini", and "Parasatu malak". He produced "Kusa Pabawathie" stage play which even staged in Europe and Middle East. The 1000 show would be stage early this year and it is an achievement by any stage producer.

Vijaya Nandasiri says that his life is in stage acting and welcomes comments from the intelligent viewers. He believes that the survival rest on them with a world that is more complicated than before. He met his life partner Devika, when the drama "Subha Saha Yasa" staged in 1974.

Devika Mihirani is familiar to most of the tele drama viewers, because she acted in the very first teledrama to telecast in Sri Lanka. A fine find of D. B. Nihalsinghe, in "Dimuthu Muthu" where Devika acted the role of Nanda to much delight of the viewers. She became the first tele star and better known as the TV Queen among the viewers. She considered it as a fortune to become popular over night and was more closer to the viewers in tele dramas such as "Rekha", "Sulanga", "Udanaya", and "Kalu Saha Sudu". She also displayed her acting talents in the tele dramas as "Humalaya", "Dhawala Mandiraya", "Pasal Guruwari" Terawwe", "Miringu Diya", "Samugath Wasanthaya" and "Damini".

Before becoming a tele drama actor, Devika was known to the drama lovers as a skilled actress. She acted in "Maname", "Singha Bhahu", Mahasara", "Ahasin Wetunu Minissu", "Wahalak Neti Geyak", "Sirith Virith" and "Veneesiye Velenda". She has won many awards to her credit and that includes popular actress award and the best actress award at the first tele drama award ceremony by the Wijaya Publications. Apart from that, the drama "Nariya Saha Keju Kella" won her the top ten award and she has the rare occasion of winning the popular actress award for three continuos years.

Devika has performed the character of Pabawathie in "Kusa Pabawathie" drama for ten long years and will continue performing in the coming years as well. She greatly appreciated the support given by her husband, Wijaya in leading the acting world and the family life balanced. It is a blessing to have a husband of Wijaya’s calibre, and he is not a father but a mother to our children, Devika said. She requested from all to dedicate themselves in whatever task performed and assured that she would continue to perform in the years to come.

The government has not provide the artists the basic facilities they need and are not treated properly she said and added that if they extend their support in developing the world of art, that would be of benefit.

As husband and wife, with two lovely children, a daughter, Navanjana Mihirani 10 years and a son Rasanjana Suchitra 5 years, the couple is happy for what they are contributing for the art world.

Flying High into the Millennium

by Kirthi Sri Karunaratne
Looking back to the year gone by and those who set the pace and styles, it is indeed a good sign towards a new century of clothes that make a woman. There are a set of those who set the lead in high flying style, in the circles we move in who can be an inspiration to the new generation. Among these are Yoland Aluvihare who has the chic and charm to wear clothes that have a distinctive seal, quite apart from her creations that have found a market all over the world.

Badra Wijesena is a woman who knows what her forte is, and is consistently well dressed, be it in saree or ethnic wear. The Kandyan saree is worn with distinction and flair, be it in the richest of silks or the simplest of cottons, by Lalini Alwis.

Pathma Maharaja who has the knack to make heads turn, is another woman who is a great success, be it in a saree or a salwar, who staged the best fashion show for the year, only last December.

Priyanthi Fernando too is on top of the list with her many lovely outfits, particularly in the saree, whose outfit at the turn of the century was in elegant silver grey.

Many other images float by, such as those of Ranjinie Wijewardene, Janaki Fernando, Goolbai Gunasekera, Mavis Gardiner, Kamala Rockwood and Rukmani Maharaja whose impeccable good taste never fails to leave a lasting impression. Then there are those who favour the draped form of saree mostly of Indian origin be it in silk, chiffon or satin. Those who must be included are Thylene Nagendra, Sharmini Serasinghe, Chocs Yoheshwaram and Mano Caderamanpulle who wears a variety of styles, some from her successful boutique. Janet Balasuriya who has become a household word with her ayurvedic cosmetics, and Rosy Senanayake whose clothes encompass the range from western to ethnic and the saree.

Also favouring the saree is Sarala Nagendra, and Swaire Balendra. Swaire has a collection of the most dashing silks and is always clad in impeccable good taste. Winners of fashion awards, if there was such a trophy, would bring in a few stylish women such as Ramani Fernando, who has a gamin charm with which she can win the hearts of anyone, and has penchant for smart sophistication.

Another winner is Otara Chandiram who has put to good use her talents and taste with the hugely successful Odel outlets, which deal in beauty be it in clothes or in household ware. Her simple styles in her own clothes, be it of sack cloth and sashes, she carries with the aplomb of a model out of Vogue.

Always a pleasure to behold are the sisters Shobana Nagendra and Nadine Mahendra. Shobana has the air of uncluttered elegance, and a freshness in her choice of attire, be it in a saree or a crisp cotton salwar.

Always impeccably dressed in designer clothes is Mersumi Andriesz, who favours black from all the colours, for her slick and sophisticated dresses. Swarna Ameratunghe has been constantly in the field of the well dressed, and wears both forms of the saree, with a preference for the Kandyan style of drape. Red is I believe her favourite colour, and she never wears black.

Always making her own statement is Audrey Rajendra with bold and striking innovations, with the most successful of them being a black saree with borders of thread embroidered gold, on it.

Missing for most parts of the year were a few who do not fail to make an indelible impression among them are Manel Wickremasinghe, Rohini Cooray Ruki Tissanayagam and Anusha Jayaratne. Sriani Samarasinghe and her sisters and Sheranee Sellamuttu. are another set that make fashion headlines. Nela de Zoysa is woman who asserts her talent for colour and design, in outfits which have a signature of its own.

Also in a similar category are Iromie Wijewardene and Marie Alles Fernando who favour the simple styles that makes it own statement. Nirmala Gunatilleke and Mallika Hemachandra too are in the same category.

Tahire Illangakoon has the advantage of a tall lissome figure and can take sharp contrast. Making a rare appearance in a saree, she made heads turn, and the fashion conscious to urge her to wear this beguiling form of dress more often.

Zooming into the fashion scene last year were Shyamalee Tudawe, Harshini Nadesan and Yasmin Wickremasinghe, all of whom never failed to make the flashlights pop, and make news in the fashion pages. These choices have been made from among the women we encounter most often in the social round, and it is indeed heartwarming that there are many other well dressed and fashion conscious woman we don’t see as often as we would like to.

As for the bride of the year I pick on Dilki Weerasinghe who was married in this year of mega weddings. Judging only by the pictures that some newspapers carried, she won with her simplicity, charm and the traditional look she favoured.

Herbs now the craze

Herbs and herbal treatment are gaining popularity not only in the east but also in the west.

Herbal make up, herbal medicinal treatment are the in-thing today. Keeping this in mind ‘Harcourts’ who celebrate 100 years next year in the year 2000 is popularising herbal medicine. ‘Harcourts’ completed ten years on January 1, 2000. Today this establishment has grown up to be recognized as the second largest importer of ethical and herbal pharmaceuticals in Sri Lanka.

The medical profession of Sri Lanka has bestowed upon Harcourts the proud position of 15 of their products as the highest prescribed drugs in their respective therapeutic groups. Mr. Ahamed Rheyas, Chairman of CEO, Harcourts Group of Companies started this firm with a small one-room office at Glen Abei Place, Colombo 4 with one clerk, one peon and one salesman.

Sales, Marketing, distribution and administration all rolled into one — Mr. Ahamed Rheyas himself.

Harcourts today prides itself — of 75 hard core marketing personnel, a corporate office with all modern amenities — Harcourts Plaza at Dehiwela with a staff of more than 50, a huge warehouse complex at Ratmalana to accommodate around 400 products, a separate herbal products showroom and therapy centre ‘Lanka Herbals’ and many other diversified ventures.

In order to cater to the growing demand for herbal drugs, Harcourts established ‘Lanka Herbals’. Last year, Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister, Mr. Nimal Siripala de Silva declared open the ‘Herbal House’ at Dehiwela.

Recently, Secretary to the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medicine, Mr. Buddika Wijeratne, inaugurated a Therapy Centre at Lanka Herbals specialising in Sirodhara and Panchakarma systems of Ayurvedic Medicine.

There are seven specialised exclusive herbal and ayurvedic drug manufacturers supplying more than 40 products for promotion to ayurvedic and indigenous medical practitioners spread over the whole island.

‘Harcourts’ endeavours to reach all of them through their medical representatives for offering the latest drugs and medical information.

‘Harcourts’ not only revolutionized the pharmaceutical scenario in Sri Lanka by making available ‘Quality drugs at affordable prices’, the company also introduced many ‘First Time’ products and new therapeutic concepts.

The foremost among them are:

* Introduction of Anti Oxidant Therapy
* First Vitamin-E
* Introduction of ‘Zinc’ Therapeutic concept.
* First Fluetine, the world renowned anti-depressant.

According to the Chairman Mr. Ahamed Rheyas, Harcourts have been in the forefront in fulfilling its social commitments responsibilities in addition to extending help to all major medical professional bodies like College of Physicians, College of Surgeons, SLMA programmes and numerous CME programmes.

Harcourts have been making donations of medicines to the Sports Ministry and other sports groups. Medical books for nurses and medicines for Free Health Camps, besides conducting its own health camp.

Life’s main worry

Even though, many politicians believe the main problem affecting society is unemployment. Research carried twice in 1986 and 1997 has revealed it is matrimony not unemployment.

If one carefully observes question and answers to our readers in this page you will realise that matrimonial problems plague a great many.

Only astrologers are aware of the anxiety of many parents and adult children due to matrimonial affairs. One may worry about late marriage while another is over concerned about the failure of the marriage. Advertisements under these marriage proposals reveal information about the large number of delayed as well as unsuccessful marriages.

Certain astrological factors explain how to identify delayed marriages as well as early ones.

Generally, marriage is governed by Venus. Individually, the seventh house and the seventh lord govern marriage. Therefore, the strength of these factors are much responsible in this regard. Additionally, the planets in the seventh aspected house, and it’s lord and combined planets also make an influence on marriage. When respective houses and planets are influenced favourably the marriage will take place on due time successfully. Otherwise there will be ill-effects.

Anyone searching for a partner may obtain astrological assistance first to find out whether the native is destined to have a successful marriage and is undergoing a mangala yoga period, before advertising or entrusting the job to a broker (kapuwa) to avoid unwanted burdens and disappointments.Sugathadasa Jayasekera.