Monday, February 20, 2006

The Pettah

The Pettah

The Pettah begins where Colombo Fort ends and spreads it tentacles across towards Kotahena in the North and legal district of Hultsdorf to the South. It is a small town similar to The Fort and is more like a bazaar catering to many wholesale businesses. In the old days the retail business thrived in the Pettah too but today many of them have moved away to other lucrative locations within the city and some even out of the city towards the Nugegoda and Dehiwela areas.

The main thoroughfares in Pettah are Main Street that cuts the town into two, Reclamation Road, now renamed to NHM Abdul Cader Mawatha, bordering the sea, Bankshall Street parallel to it, and Norris Road, now called Olcott Mawatha. McCalum Road, also borders the Pettah and moves towards Maradana. It is now referred to as D R Wijewardena Mawatha after the famous lake House newspaper tycoon.

The streets that cross Main Street are Front Street, 1st Cross Street, 2nd Cross Street, 3rd Cross Street, 4th Cross Street & 5th Cross Street. Keyzer Street, Prince Street, & maliban Street run parallel to Main Street towards Olcott Mawatha. Bodhiraja Mawatha connects Olcott Mawatha to Main Street and meets it at the junction of Sea Street and Gabo's Lane.

The Dutch Museum
The old `Dutch House' on Prince Street, Pettah (Colombo 11) which houses this museum was built in the latter part of the 17th century and was initially the residence of Count August Carl Van Ranzow along with five other houses of the elite. Today, the sides of the street are choc-a-block with boutiques and stores of moslem traders. The restoration of this building commenced in 1977 and was completed in 1981. This museum was opened to the public in 1982. This building embodies the unique architectural features of a colonial Dutch town house. The museum while displaying the Dutch legacy with the artefacts viz. furniture, ceramics, coins, arms etc. portrays facets of contemporary life and culture. Open daily except Fridays from 0900 Hrs. to - 1700 Hrs. Admission. Adults Rs.6. Children Rs.3.

The old "Dutch House" in Prince Street, Pettah, which houses this museum was built in the latter part of the 17th century. It was the residence of Count August Carl Van Ranzow. Today, the sides of the streets are filled with boutiques and stores of traders. The building embodies the unique architectural features of a colonial Dutch town house. The museum which displays the Dutch legacy with artefact - viz. furniture, ceramics, coins, arms, etc. - portrays facets of contemporary life and culture.

Ananda College
Ananda College, established November 1, 1885 by the Buddhist Theosophical Society, is one of Sri Lanka's oldest schools. Originally it was known as English Buddist School, describing its stated intention of providing English instruction to Buddhist students who would otherwise have had to a missionary school in order to get an english education. The school opened on a modest scale with 37 students in a private house in Pettah. It was later relocated to Maradana and was named after Arahant Ananda, the most devoted disciple of the Buddha.

Today Ananda College stands to be one of the greatest Buddhist schools in Asia, with a student population exceeding 6000 in all 13 grades of secondary education on a campus of over 20 acres. The academic staff led by the Principal, Brigadier B.A. Abeyaratne is a little over 200.

Over the years, Ananda has produced notable alumni and thus contributed immensely to Sri Lanka. These include statesman such as the current Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, United National Party deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya, famous cricketers Arjuna Ranatunga and Marvan Atapattu. One of the most memorable events in the annals of the college was the visit of Asia's first Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore on November 10, 1922, as chief guest at the annual prize giving. He declared on that occasion: "I acknowledge that the life of Ananda is its humility and unassuming nature." One of the greatest men ever born, Mahatma Gandhi visited Ananda in 1927.

Ananda College Old Boys’ Association is a body consisting of the past students of Ananda College. It has a membership in excess of 5000.

Distinguished Old Boys: Dr N.M. Perera , Dr Danushka Thotamuna, Regi Siriwardena, General Hamilton Wanasingha, General Sarath Fonseka, Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, Phillip Gunawardana, Ana Punchihewa, Upali Dharmadasa, Sir D.B Jayathilaka, Rohitha Bogollagama, Imthiaz Bakir Markar, Thilan Wijesingha, Prof. Nandadasa Kodagoda

Famous Principals: C. W. Leadbeater (1886-1890), A. E. Buultjens (1890 - 1898), Sir D.B. Jayathilaka (1898-1908), J.T. Davis (1908-1909), M. C. Moore (1910-1913), Fritz Kunz (1914 - 1917), P. de S. Kularatne (1923 - 1932), Dr. G. P. Malalasekera (1932), L. H. Mettananda (1945 - 1953)

Wesley College, ColomboThe vision, way back in 1858, of Rev. Joseph Rippon (a great uncle of Rev. Henry Highfield) was the establishment of a superior educational institution for the Wesleyan Methodist Mission in South Ceylon. On March 2, 1874 (the death anniversary of Rev. John Wesley) Wesley College was founded in the City Mission Buildings at Dam Street, Pettah Sri Lanka. Wesley’s first Principal was Rev. Samuel Wilkin and first Vice Principal, Rev. D. Henry Pereira. This Methodist Institution was envisaged to be a distinctly Christian college, providing a high standard of secondary education. From 1874 onwards, Wesley College has consolidated her position as a premier Christian educational institution in Sri Lanka.

The Wesleyan Missionary Society of London, conceived the idea of founding and developing an English school. Pereira's students formed the nucleus and so on 2 March 1874, with the Rev. S. R. Wilkin, Wesley College, was founded. Wesley College, with an Englishman at the helm, in those spacious colonial days was became instant success. Students overflowed, parents kept knocking at the doors - for Pettah was also a residential area then. Between the years 1874-1895 there were six missionary principals.

It was in 1895 October, when Wesley was 21 years in existence that the Rev. Henry Highfield, M.A Cantab, arrived as Wesley's 7th principal (1895 -1925). This man of vision worked relentlessly to provide Wesley with a place fit for study, and so we take a leap to the year 1906 when the present new Wesley College was opened. Highfield's contribution is legendary.
Known as the Saint of Karlshrue, he prayed and labored on for 30 gruelling years, leaving Wesley at the pinnacle of success both in the academic sphere and sports.

Since Highfield, Wesley has had 12 principals. The Rev. James Cartman was the last of the missionary educationalists. Cartman was a man of grit, tenacity and what is more he was industrious. He rebuilt Wesley after World War II from the debris and the back lash of the war's ravages, reinfusing the Wesley spirit and boosting morale. Cartman walked in the footsteps of the great Highfield and certainly was Highfield's near equal, developing great sports and studies and extending the accommodation of the College. Post war Wesleyites owe James Cartman a deep debt of gratitude. His war cry Zam, Zam, Zakay re-echoes on match days and sports events.

Wesley's 19th principal M. A. P. Fernando, a hard-core Wesleyite, who shone both in studies and sports in Wesley, spent 30 years in the field of education, and was closely involved in education, the Methodist Church and its activities.

Administrating a college of the high caliber such as Wesley, is no easy task today but to a dedicated and loyal old boy as Mr. M.A.P Fernando, with his capacity and competence, the task of leading and guiding Wesley to the upper rungs towards the millennium, arduous though the task may be, is well within his scope. His vision is to build on, as he draws from those selective fruitful years of the past and re-awaken enthusiasm in all spheres at Wesley. Today at Wesley cricket, rugger and other spotrs have begun to come to life. M.A.P. has inculcated and generated a spirit that makes these young stalwarts of Wesley realize that they do matter and are the valuable assets of Wesley. (courtersy by anushkahimali@yahoo.com)

M.A.P. Fernanado is reaching out to both staff of both and students to establish their value and potential, thus instilling a new heart and spirit to enable them to even do small things in great way: this is no doubt a welcome feature, and one of his many facets.

The principal needs the assistance of his staff of both loyal men and women who can shine in their allocations, the sustained dialogue of parent and well-wishers, as Wesley looks up to her almuni, sojurning in many parts of the world and here, for their continuos support for Wesley to excell.Wesley's welfare is certain to be deep in the hearts of her old boys, who are no doubt keen, to repay today, for what they were privileged to have yester years. Then, principal M.A.P. Fernando's vision for a brave new Wesley for tomorrow will be a reality - as he sows for a rich harvest in his time no doubt, to be garnered by the ages to come.

VISION STATEMENT At Wesley college we inspire our students to achieve standards of excellence.Our expectations are high and Wesleyites will always be united, loyal, honurable and persevering. Wesley will impart a sense of responsibility in students to society, country and indeed on a global scale.

MISSION STATEMENT Wesleyites will aim at holistic education, enabaling them to interact, negotiate and live with their fellow beings in amenity.
At Wesley we are committed to principles of equal opportunity where each student is able to reach his full potential.

We believe that tolerance, fair-play, and respect for the views of others are shared values that have enabled the College to build a community which practices social, justice, human dignity and eniviromental well being.

At Wesley, we pay high regard for alumni in all parts of the world and we continue to pray as we indulge in challenging tasks.

VISION STATEMENT At Wesley college we inspire our students to achieve standards of excellence.Our expectations are high and Wesleyites will always be united, loyal, honurable and persevering. Wesley will impart a sense of responsibility in students to society, country and indeed on a global scale.

The Memon Community of Sri Lanka

Introduction

The Memon Community are one of the many widely dispersed peoples of Asia across the globe. This erstwhile business community claim their roots from the state of Gujarat in Northern India and have migrated through time in search of greener pastures, settling down in many nations establishing their very own smaller Memon communities within these lands. They are found in very large numbers in the bustling business cities of Karachi, Mumbai, Surat, Chennai, Dhoraji and Hyderabad in south Asia. Sizeable communities are also found in South Africa, particularly in Pretoria, Pietersburgh and Pietermaritzburg, and also in Burma, BanglaDesh and Sri Lanka. Others are scattered across Europe, the UK, the USA and particularly in the western parts of Portugal.

The total Memon population across the world is estimated to approximately over 1 Million with the vast majority located in the Indian subcontinent. The breakdown is as follows:-
India - 550,000
Pakistan - 415,000
South Africa - 25,000
United KIngdom - 22,000
Sri Lanka - 6,000
Burma = 5,000
BanglaDesh - 3,000

The Lohana Theory

The Lohana Theory on the origin of the Memon community states that they were originally from the Hindu Merchant Community of Lohana's living in the Sind who were converted to Islam sometime circa 1423 in the early part of the fifteenth century. The story goes on to say that the conversion was carried out by a Muslim Saint and the community was given the name "Moomin", which means "believer" in Arabic, which then has evolved into the present day "Memon" name. No doubt this theory has many varied versions attached to it based on the fact that the community never kept written records gf their history and culture during those times. Most of the versions of the varying stories wee passed down from generation to generation through oral communication imbibed with folklore for more spice and passion.

The Encyclopedia of Islam, a well known work on Islam and Muslim Communities across the globe published in London, states that the Memons are a trading community of Gujarat who claim to have embraced the religion of Islam around the 12th Century. They are said to have been converted to Islam from the trading Lohana and Kutch Bania castes living in Sind and Kutch either by a son or a descendant of the famous saint Abdul Qadir Jailani (Vol VI.1990). This statement seems to be derived from the original legend of the community published in the Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency in the latter part of the 19th Century as follows:-

"Maulana Abdul Kadir Muhi-yud-din Gilani, the Saint of Saints, died at Baghdad in AD 1165 (H.561). On his deathbed he ordered one of his sons, Taj-ud-din, to settle in India and to display to its people the light of Islam.

In AD 1421 (H.838) Sayad Eusuf-ud-din Hadri, fifth in descent from Taj-ud-din, in a miraculous dream was ordered to set sail for Sindh and guide its people to the right way of Islam.

When Sayad Eusuf-ud-din reached Sind, its capital was Nagar-Thatta and its ruler was a chief of the Samma dynasty (AD.1351-1521) with the title of Markab Khan who received Sayad Eusuf-ud-din with honor and treated him as his guest. At this time, Ma'nekji, the head of the eighty four nukhs or divisions of the Lohana community was in favor at the court of Markab Khan. Markab Khan became a follower of the Sayad and Ma'nekji with two of his three sons and 700 Lohana families followed their rulers example. Of the two sons of Ma'nekji, who became converts, Ravji was called Ahmed and Ravji's sons Sundarji and Hansraj were named Adam and Taj Muhammad. n their conversion, the saint changed the name of their community from Mota and Lohana to Mu'amin or Believers and investing Adam with a dress of honore, appointed him hereditary head of the new community with his seat at Wara near Thatta".

Many may ask the pertinent question as to from where the Bombay Gazetteer derived its narrative? The Gazetteer does mention that the source of the story is attributed to an Urdu booklet titled "Nuzhat-ul-Akbar" (aka the Abrajul Haq) written by one Sayad Amir-ud-din Nuzhat in 1873. Nuzhat himself claims to have been given the story by a rather obscure figure named Pir Buzurg Ali of Mundra in Kacch. The authors of the Bombay Gazetteer were however of the view that the story was probably true because it had been derived from three respectable sources, viz "the pedigree of the Holy Sayad Buzurg Ali; sanads, or patents, of the headship of the community conferred on Ma'nekji, the first Lohana convert to Islam and in the possession of Seth Shabena Bhuj, Manekji's descendantg in Bombay; Sanads, or Patents, in the possession of Joshi Bhojaji, a descendant of Hansraj, son of Ramani, the caste priest of the Lohanas at the time of their conversion".

Other Theories

Besides the Lohana conjecture there are also many other alternate theories on the origins of the Memons. One, propounded by Abdul Rahman, holds that the Lohanas who converted to Islam were not an insignificant trading community, but rather rulers of Sind who had their capital at "Brahmanabad" or "City of Brahmins". They are said to have converted as Muhammad bin Qasim the Arab Conqueror of India arrived in that country in 712 AC.

Yet another, popularized by Naz Mongroli, holds that the Memons were originally not a Hindu but a Buddhist caste engaged in the weighing of precious stones and that their name is, in fact, derived from 'mai', meaning one who weighs and 'man', meaning precious stones. This caste is said to have converted to Islam upon Bis Qassim's victory over the Hindu King Dahir in the early 8th century.

Another theory, publicized by Muhammad Qassim Barla, holds that the Memon converts to Islam originated not from the Lohanas, but from some low caste Hindus settled down around the Sind and Kacch coasts who were given protection by their Muslim rulers at a spot between Makran and Sistan. These protected subjects became known as Ma'maum meaning 'protected' subsequently changing to Memon.

Finally, there is the theory postulated by Karimbaksh Khalid which holds that the Memons were originally Arabs hailing from Qa'tif near Ta'if in the Arabian Peninsular who belonged to the tribe of Banu Tamim. They are said to have constituted the right-wing of the army of the army of Bin Qassim, the Arab Conqueror of Sind known as Maymenah or "rightwingers" which designation later became Memon.

All the alternative theories, however, do not have as much credibility as the original Lohana theory on account of their lack of substantial evidence and inferior sources whose integrity is questionable.


'The Memons - Important Muslim minority of Sri Lanka'

Hameed Karim Bhoja - DN Wed May 31, 2006

Community: The Memons of Sri Lanka constitute a small but important minority community in the island, numbering a mere 7000 persons in a nation of over 20 million. Their contribution to the national life of the country has nevertheless been significant.

They have contributed immensely to the economic life of the country, not only as importers and traders of various essential goods, but also as manufacturers and exporters of high quality garments that have today become a major source of foreign earnings.

They also have their own member of parliament, the Hussein Bhaila who presently serves as Deputy Minister of Plan Implementation under the UPFA Government and is in charge of all matters connected with the implementation of the Mahinda Chintanaya, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's vision and aspirations for National Development Programme.

Early origins
The Memons though now a Muslim people, trace their origins to a Hindu trading community known as the Lohanas who lived in Sind in present-day Pakistan. They are believed to have embraced Islam around the fifteenth century.

The story of their conversion finds mention in the Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency as follows: "Maulana Abdul Kadir Muhi-yud-din Gilani, the Saint of Saints, died at Baghdad in A.D. 1165 (H.561). On his deathbed he ordered one of his sons, Taj-ud-din, to settle in India and display to its people the light of Islam.

In A.D. 1421 (H. 838) Sayad Eusu-uf-din Hadri, fifth in descent from Taj-ud-din, in a miraculous dream was ordered to set sail for Sindh and guide its people in the right way of Islam. When Sayad Eusuf-ud-din reached Sindh, its capital was Nagar - Thatta and its ruler was a chief of the Samma dynasty (A.D. 1351-1521) with the title of Markab Khan who received Sayad Eusuf-ud-din with honour and treated him as his guest.

At this time, Ma'nekji, the head of the eighty-four nukhs or divisions of the Lohana community was in favour at the court of Markab Khan. Markab Kahan became a follower of the Sayad and Ma'nekji with two of his three sons and 700 Lohana families followed their ruler's example.
Of the two sons of Ma'nekji who became converts, Ravji was called Ahmed and Ravji's sons Sundarji and Hansraj were named Adam and Taj Muhamman. On their conversion, the saint changed the name of the community from Mota and Lohana to Mu'amin or Believers and investing Adam with a dress of honour, appointed him hereditary head of the new community with his seat at Wara near Thatta".

The Memons subsequently migrated southwards to the Kathiawad Peninsula of Gujarat where they formed settlements such as Kutiyana, Porbandar and Upleta. It is from this region that the Memons domiciled in Sri Lanka have their origins. The early Memons who resorted to Sri Lanka did so to engage in textile trading.

They would purchase textiles from India and sell them locally as they had a good demand here. The first Memon arrival in the island is said to have been an individual named Abdul Rahman who arrived here in 1870. This early migrant also known as Manna Seth began here as an itinerant peddler of textiles in Jaffna before settling in Pettah and building up a considerable business.

With time, Memons originating from Kutiyana and other parts of Gujarat had begun to steadily resort to the island for business purposes, but it was only the men who came here.
The women were left behind in their homes in Kathiawad. However, with the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, those Memons who had their businesses and families here became citizens. They looked upon Sri Lanka as their own country and set about giving their best to it.

Social Life
The Memons are on the whole a religious community and have established mosques and madrasas in many parts of the island for the benefit of the larger Islamic fraternity. They also have their own mosque, the Memon Hanafi Mosque in Pettah, where Friday sermons are delivered in Urdu language with which many of them are familiar. They also have their own Madrasa, Faiz-e-Raza established a little over ten years ago to meet the religious needs of the community.

The Memons, unlike the majority of the country's Muslims who follow the Shafi School of Islamic jurisprudence are zealous adherents of the Hanafi School of law founded by Imam Abu Hanifah. They have their own Quazi or judge who settles civil disputes according to this school.
The Memons also have a distinct cultural identity, which closely resembles that of other Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. Their Memon language is an Indo-Aryan tongue believed to have derived from Sindhi, though heavily overlaid with Gujarati elements. Many however understand Urdu, which serves as a lingua franca among the Muslims of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent.

Even the practices relating to the major events of life such as marriage closely resemble those prevailing among Indian Muslims.

These include the Viaji Raja, the formal seeking of the bride's consent shortly before the marriage ceremony and other prenuptial practices such as the Mehendi ceremony where a red dye Mehendi (Lawsonia inermis) is applied on the bride's hands and feet to form beautiful designs. Even the attire is similar. Men prefer the long shirt and ijar (pyjama) while women commonly wear the shalwa-khameez, a most feminine two-piece garment of Indian origin.
The womenfolk are extremely fond of typical Indian jewellery. Thus the Memons could be said to represent a typical Indian migrant community who have jealously preserved their traditional way of life. Memon Association

It is opportune to mention here that the Memon Association of Sri Lanka (MASL) today celebrates its 50th Anniversary. The Association formed in 1956 by well-known Memon personalities of the day such as Prof. Rauf Pasha, Dr. Ibrahim Dangra and Haji Usman Bhaila. It was then known as the Memon Association of Ceylon and based in hulftsdorp.

Today, as the Memon Association of Sri Lanka celebrates its 50th anniversary, it is worthy to mention the immense contribution made towards community by Dr. A. A. M. Haroon, the present President of the Association and his young and dynamic team, particularly for their bold decision to host the 4th World Memon Conference held in Colombo from May 19-21.


Colombo's Chinatown

Quaint business hub in Pettah steeped in history: Sunday Observer Mar 4 2012


Foreigners walking on Malwatta Road


W.A. Kumarasiri
The China Street at Main Street, the Pettah and the Malwatta Road that runs in front of the Fort Railway Station up to the Colombo Harbour are very popular commercial streets in the hub of Colombo city. Not only old people, but also young shoppers in their thousands visit these streets everyday to purchase various household items. Some of the items such as glassware, gift items and electrical goods are not even seen at popular shopping arcades in Cinnamon Gardens, Kollupitiya, Bambalapitiya or Borella.

Among these two popular streets, China Street has a very long history. Legend has it that only two small galvanised roof shops were run by a group of Muslim traders during the colonial era in 1840.

After a few years during the same period, some Sinhalese and Tamils started more shops along this narrow street.

As the shops were filled with more items that were manufactured in China, the street came to be called as 'China Street'.

History relates that the Chinese had visited the country by ship and they were in the habit of exchanging their products with Lankan traders.

The Sunday Observer last week visited the most busiest commercial areas in the hub of Colombo city, the China Street and the Malwatta Road to meet traders and to discuss about their business activities.

Owner

A long standing trader, 76-year-old Haffis Abubacar said he started his business at China Street when he was 32 years. His grandfather, S. Abubacar had started business activities in 1906 and after the death of his grandfather his father took over the business.

"Now I am the sole owner of my business and I sell glassware and kitchen utensils. Some items are locally manufactured and some others have been imported from countries such as India, Bangkok, Thailand and China,".

When asked about the reason for naming this Street as `China Street', he quoted his grandfather and said there were two stories behind it.

"Since the traders sold only Chinese goods during the colonial period, a prominent Muslim trader requested the then colonial rulers to name it as the `China Street'" and the Government temporally accepted the request," he said.

He said there was another romantic story behind the name of this `China Street'.
"A Sri Lankan trader who used to travel by a ship to China for business activities had a close rapport with a Chinese woman who was the daughter of a leading manufacturer in China.

As there were no monetary exchange system during that period, both the Lankan trader and his Chinese female counterpart had exchanged perfume to household items and it was later revealed that the Street was named on the request of this Chinese lady,".

Today the `China Street' has become the most busiest commercial area in the city.
There are over 90 small and large scale business shops on the Street. Businessmen belong to all communities are engaged in various business activities in harmony.

Sanitation

A leading businessman A. Azees who owns a shop at China Street said that he started the business about 25 years ago with the blessings of his father and grandfather.He said he sells mainly household items such as glassware, ceramic items, stationery items, baby items and all kinds of kitchen utensils.

He also said over 5000 people from various parts of the country visit the street everyday and shop owners are engaged in good business activities.

"Although we have good business here, shop owners as well as customers face untold hardships due to lack of sanitation facilities,".

He said unlike other streets in the city, China Street is very narrow and even the space is insufficient for two vehicles to move past. He requested the authorities to demolish unnecessary constructions and widen the street to enable customers to walk freely.
He said, some time ago a little fire had spread inside a clothing material shop and it took a long time for the Colombo Fire Brigade to arrive at the scene, but by that time the whole shop was gutted by the fire.

He therefore urged authorities to widen the China Street, so that even a fire brigade could reach the place in case of a fire.

A shop owner at China Street, P.L. Ameen proposed the Government to give a facelift to the China Street under the Government's city beautification program.
He said old buildings which were constructed and small shops which are constructed very close to the China Street should be demolished and new buildings with two to three storeys put up.

The Malwatta Road which starts in front of the Fort Railway Station has become the most prominent commercial area next to the China Street.

The history of Malwatta Road is coming from the colonial era of 1900. It was revealed that five persons who lived in the Colombo city had started to sell small items which were brought from India and China. They constructed their small business huts near the Khan clock tower in Colombo without any approval from the then British rulers.

Prominent

Malwatta Road is now a prominent place for over 100 businessmen. They have also formed a trade association under the name `Suhada Traders Association'.

According to Suhada Traders Association President W. A. Kumarasiri, only a few shop owners started small business activities during the colonial period. Most buildings in the Malwatta Road are over 125 years old.

"The traders were given permanent places to do their business activities along the Malwatta Road in 1956 by the then Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike."
He said Malwatta Road was constructed with stones that were brought from India. The colonial remnants could be seen even today if anybody visits the area.
It is said that several shops were run by people to sell toddy to labourers and other workers living in the area.

A long-standing Businessman, Martin Liyanarachchi said he started the business at Malwatta Road in 1952. At present there are over 100 shops at Malwatta Road. The shop owners sell various items such as imported shoes, textile, cassette recorders and tapes , radios and television sets.

He said over 10,000 families depend on business at Malwatta Road.
He also said his association is also engaged in welfare and social activities.

Tsunami

"We gave food and garment items worth over Rs. 12 lakhs to people who were affected by Tsunami in 2004.

"In addition, we also distributed school and educational equipment to children at Anuradapura, Mahiyangana, Padaviya and Moneragala.
A shop owner, Oliver Devapriya said they do brisk business in December, April and May.

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