By Thilak S. Fernando

If educating the young, born to Sri Lankan parents in the UK, teaching them their mother tongue and making them aware of Sri Lankan traditions with a mixture of welfare are the prime aims of The Sri Lanka Educational, Cultural and Welfare Foundation in Kingsbury, North West London, then they could be proud of their success and achievement when the Foundation created history in the UK, during their the Sinhala New Year on 12 April 1998, by training a tiny tot of two and a half years old to perform on stage.

Thimedi Dassanyake, at the age of only just two and a half, has mastered so far only to suck her thumb, yet on 12th April she enthusiastically wore a tiny Lama Sariya, willingly got onto the stage and delivered a memorised version of a popular and an equally difficult Sinhala song of Mohideen Beig, ' Punchi Puthe, Punchi Duwe Ipa Duna Me Lak Dive' in front of over thousand spectators. Naturally tiny Thimedi became the centre of attraction during the Sinhala new year celebrations held at the Kingsbury High School organised by the Sri Lanka Educational, Cultural and Welfare Foundation.

This was the 8th successive Sinhala New Year programme organised by the SLECWF where it has been introducing new ideas and new concepts year on year with new style of entertainment within the scope of Sri Lankan culture.

This was the second successive year Dr. Mudiyanse Dissanayke, the Head of Aesthetic Studies of Kelaniya University arrived on special invitation by the SLECWF to liven the celebration with a variety of novelties. Bali Yagaya, a form of Sri Lankan popular ritual performed commonly in Sri Lanka to evade bad malefic effects of evil mouth, evil eye, charmings, etc., went on stage for the first time in London adding yet another feather in the Educational, Welfare and Cultural Foundation's cap. Dr. Mudiyanse himself was in control of the Baliyagaya with a team of locally trained assistants to get rid of all the malefic effects of the audience, with the help of a few kilos of dummala, a volatile powder especially used in Sri Lanka to chase away the evil spirits with fire.

Avurudu celebrations which commenced at noon with traditional games and competitions for the children and the adults alike went on till 11.30 p.m. incorporating a cultural programme with a variety of acts by the Sri Saddhatissa Dhamma School pupils and traditional dancing and drumming by Dr. Dissanayake's locally recruited students. The final session consisted of a musical presentation where several local talent took part, including the famous Kusum Subasinghe.