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June 19, 2018

A Baila Lecture/Recital for Devian Scholarships
Members of the PPA of Devi Balika and friends were treated to a novel fundraising event on Sunday the tenth of June, at the Orpington home of member Mrs Dilrukshi Fernando.

A crowd of around fifty friends gathered together to enjoy a convivial afternoon of fun, music and good food, be informed by listening to a lecture/recital titled "Sri Lankan Baila - Sri Lanka's Portuguese colonial legacy and music" delivered by the President of Devi PPA, Dr Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya, and most importantly to raise funds for the Scholarship programme supporting past pupils undertaking university studies in Sri Lanka.

Shihan, a senior academic at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and an elected Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society(UK), delivered a very informative and entertaining account of the evolution of the very popular style of music and dance that we today identify as Baila. She carefully outlined and traced for us the historical influences of the western colonisers-dating back to the earliest of these in 1505 (i.e. the Portuguese), on the language, culture, music and dance of the indigenous peoples of Ceilao - as known by the first Portuguese explorers - or Sri Lanka as it is now named. Shihan's presentation was enhanced by illustrative vocals and her piano accompaniments. She was very ably supported in this by her husband, Dr Hemal Jayasuriya, with his rendition of some of the old lyrics.

Following a short question and answer session everyone settled down to enjoy a tasty Sri Lankan meal of rice and curries provided by our lovely hostess and her family. The meal ended with a "surprise" cup of special "Masala" tea prepared by a small group of the oldest Devians at the event and enjoyed by all present! Thus revived, everyone gathered together to enjoy a sing song of baila music and dance, with instrumental accompaniments provided by Shihan and Rohan on the piano, Jagath and Neville on guitars with Dammi and Suraj on the djembe and bongos; a few tambourines also changed hands regularly and speedily enhancing the rhythms.

The afternoon was a huge success as can be seen by the accompanying photographs, and most importantly the scholarship fund has been added to.
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