Full Moon Day at Ramboda Sri Baktha Hanuman temple

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

It was another special day at Sri Baktha Hanuman temple in Ramboda. The day was a full moon day in the month of October; freezing cold early in the morning, free of all the rays of the sun that are fully spreaded only after mid morning.

And there is spiritual looking Veerappa Chandrabose-busy running up and down the hill to bring flowers, silk, and other items for decoration at the temple, since daybreak. He has already begun to dress and decorate a brass statue of Sri Baktha Hanuman. He was willing to talk while working.

Veerappa Chandrabose (25), who hails from Pussallawa, began his career as a garland maker ten years ago. He has been making garlands for the Sri Baktha Hanuman temple ever since its inception in 1999.

Verappa Chandrabose says “Hanuman safeguards whoever believes him. I have total trust on him. I have a lot of problems in my life. But I surrender everything to him to look after”.

He gets flowers from Mathampai and Kurunegala to make garlands. Different coloured wool is also used with flowers to make garlands for special occasions. He is energetic and enthusiastic to be more creative. He gets delighted when the devotees praise him about the stunning styles in garland making. His acknowledgment would be a simple smile.

Apart from making garlands and undertaking decorations of statues at temple. He makes garlands for weddings and age attaining ceremonies. He used to travel to Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Colombo to decorate temples for festivals. But due to the current situation he does not travel to North and East. And also he owns a small shop at the foot of the mountain, which sells religious items such as idols, holy threads and garlands.

“Senthooram” is being appiled to Sri Baktha Hanuman. “Senthooram” symbolises victory. “Senthooram” is only offered at Hanuman temples

Sri Baktha Hanuman in Ramboda is 18 feet tall

“Kopuram”-the main tower of the temple

Devotees believe Sri Baktha Hanuman is a saviuor

Chief priest of the temple Maheswara Kurukkal places “Senthooram” on the forehead of a devotee

Veerappa Chandrabose dresses up Sri Bhaktha Hanuman

Sri Bhatha Hanuman brass statue is taken on procession on special days

Special poojas are held on full moon days

Flowers are brought from Mathampai and Kurunegala

Flowers stay fresh due to cold climate

Veerappa Chandrabose is looking for a life partner

Sri Baktha Hanuman in “Moolasthaanam”– main shrine of the temple is decorated for the festival

Veerappa Chandrabose decorates Sri Baktha Hanuman with skills that are marked by dexterity and grace

Devotees thronged the temple

Hanuman is considered as the incarnation of Lord Siva

Veerappa Chandrabose is happy about his achievements

Betel leaves and garlands are specially offered to Hanuman

Sri Baktha Hanuman enchants devotees from all ethnicities

Hanuman symbolises devotion and service

Hanuman is one of the most important personalities in the epic-“Ramayanam”

Hanuman’s weapon is “Gada” mace

Veerappa Chandrabose at his shop

Religious items are sold at the foot of the mountain

Hanuman worship is increasingly becoming popular in Sri Lanka

Hanuman is taken on procession outside the temple

Men carried Hanuman on the shoulders

Long hours were spent in the temple

It’s a belief that, Hanuman is easily reachable by chanting the name “Rama”

Flower petals are sprinkled and the Hanuman idol is welcomed at the main entrance of the temple

View of the Sri Baktha Hanuman temple in Ramboda from another mountain

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[Ramboda Falls, Sri Lanka]
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Email:dushi.pillai@gmail.com

Pictorial: Embedded in Silavaththurai

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Silavaththurai was in the news locally and internationally in August-September 2007.

I was one of the first few journalists who were on an embedded tour with the Sri Lankan Army to Silavaththurai in September 2007. We went to Naanaattan by van, from Naanaattaan to Arippu by Unicorn, crossed Arippu lagoon by boat and then finally from Arippu to Silavaththuari by tractor. We walked through jungles to witness the former territory controlled by the LTTE. The journey from Arippu to Silavaththurai on a red sandy and dry road took almost two hours, because of the condition of the road.

Civilians got displaced as fighting broke out between the Sri Lankan security forces and the LTTE. People from this area came to Murungan and stayed in welfare camps.

Abandoned LTTE camp in Silavaththurai

A medical camp of the LTTE

Sri Lankan Army solider looking at a Johnny mine

Bombed LTTE sea tiger base in Silavaththurai

Civilians abandoned their boats in Arippu due to fighting and displacement

Soldiers in Arippu

Abandoned bullock cart in Arippu

LTTE bunker is Silavaththurai

Sri Lankan Army soldier walks pass a bunker in Silavaththurai

Houses are sealed to protect the belongings from looting

Soldiers in Arippu

Boats abandoned by the civilians are being recovered by the soldiers and taken for a safe place, and will be handed over to the owners

Another camp used by the LTTE in the jungle of Silavaththurai

Desserted Arippu

Photojournalist of the Sunday Times Saman Kariyavasam taking photos in Arippu

Destroyed monument in Arippu

Divisional Secretariat of Musali

Another bunker used by the LTTE in Silavaththurai

Roman Catholic Vidyalayam in Arippu

Recovered weapons are displayed at the Thallady camp

LTTE flag is displayed at Thallady camp

Portraits of martyrs are displaced among the recovered items

Cut-out among the displayed

Main street in Mannar town

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Email: dushi.pillai@gmail.com

Internally Displaced Persons from Northern Province in Puttlam

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Puttlam district is situated on the coastal belt of North Western Province of Sri Lanka. Its total population is 8,14,000. Sinhala population is 5,85,000, Muslim population is 1,49,000, and Tamil population is 80,000. There are currently 75,000 Internally Displaced Persons from Northern Province in Puttlam. These statistics are from a survey carried out by the District Secretariat of Puttlam.

The Muslims of Jaffna were forced to leave by the LTTE in October 1990. LTTE made announcements over loud speakers that, Muslim should assemble at Jinnah Grounds of Osmania College by twelve noon on October 30th 1990. And the LTTE went from house to house, and made sure they attend the meeting. The message was conveyed to the Muslims of Jaffna by the then LTTE commander of Jaffna Anjaneyar (who was also known as Ilamparithy), all the Muslims in Jaffna peninsula have to leave in two hours. This was an order by the high command, and neither more explanation was given nor questions were answered. Any Muslim who fails to leave Jaffna will be punished, said clearly by the LTTE.

Muslims lived in Pombaiveli, Sonakaththeru, Beach road and Chavakachcheri. The Muslims who were living happily in Jaffna have started to pack and leave. But they were stopped and checked by the male and female cadres of the LTTE during their journey. The Muslims were allowed to carry only Rs. 150/=. Other items were confiscated by the LTTE. Muslims from Jaffna district were given only two hours to leave the peninsula, whereas the Muslims from Mannar, Mullaithivu and Kilinochchi districts were given few days to leave. They left their houses and moved to Puttlam by boats, buses, tractors, and lorries. As a result there were approximately 85,000 Muslims who were expelled by the LTTE from Northern districts.

Most of the Internally Displaced Persons are living in thatched houses, and are frustrated about staying there for more than 17 years. They lack the normal living standard of an average Muslim. They are very frustrated about the ration, which is irregular. The dry ration per person includes 5kilograms of rice, ½ kilogram of dhal, 1 kilogram of flour, 1 kilogram of sugar and a cake of soap. They complain that, these are not given at regular intervals. Sometimes they get the ration in every two months, and some other time in every four months.

The Internally Displaced Persons say that, they cannot depend on the ration. Women go the agriculture fields and earn Rs. 200/= per day. They need Rs. 40/= as up and down bus fare. They have to manage the balance Rs. 160/= for their family. The men go for fishing or day labourer, but they are not paid well either. And they have to compete with the host community.

The older generation of course is dreaming of going back to their home towns. But the younger generation does not want to return, because they have adopted to a new lifestyle, and unable to adjust if they go back.

Many voices were heard during the visit. The largest concentration of Internally Displaced Persons from Jaffna district are living in Thillaiyady. It is a small village occupied by the Muslims from Jaffna district. It’s called “Little Jaffna”. Everybody in Thillaiyady spoke typical Jaffna Tamil. Nobody wants to say that, they got displaced; instead they want to say that, they were evicted. They continued to languish in abysmal conditions.

Muslims from other three districts are spread out in Nuraichcholai and Katpity. The resettled villages have separate small houses made of hard board or wood or mud. Very dark inside; they pay Rs.20,000/= to get electricity. Cadjan fences give a village touch to the houses.

The Internally Displaced Persons say that, the Politicians make a lot of promises during their election campaigns, but once the election is over, they always become broken promises. And they have no hope; they have learnt to live with what is available.

Youngsters have no nostalgia for Jaffna

Rameez Sajath

“I was two year-old child when I left Jaffna in 1990. I can’t recall anything. I went back to Jaffna in 2005 by bus on A9. I was happy to see my parents’ birth place. My father is currently in Jaffna, who does business. I got used to a different lifestyle, and very difficult to go back to Jaffna and live there. I have finished my G.C.E. (A/L)- General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level), and awaiting results. I have almost settled down here, will not go back to Jaffna to live” said Rameez Sajath (19), who lives in Thillaiyady- Puttlam.

I met few women who got expelled from Jaffna in October 1990. These women are from Moors Street in Jaffna, now living in Sathamiyapuram in Thillaiyady. There are 365 families-1,825 members are living in these temporary shelters. They find it very difficult to manage, because of language barrier, and cultural change. Some shelters have more than family. Toilets are shared; wells are common.Children complain about discrimination at school among the children from host community and IDP community.

Pushed to poverty

Fareena Fariz

“This is not my land. My land is Jaffna. I like to go back to Jaffna to live, if the situation improves. I have three sons, and two daughters. I went to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi as a house maid to earn a stable income for my family. I worked abroad for eight years. My husband died a year ago, and after his death I could not leave my children and go back to earn. I live in a thatched house, and have no way to settle my daughters, who are 17 and 19 years old. Because the groom side demands a huge amount as dowry. And I do not have any money or belongings to give my daughters in marriage” lamented Fareena Fariz (41)

Neighbours left

Ameera Iyub Khan

“I went back to Jaffna during the peace time. But most of my Tamil neighbours have already left the area because of fierce fighting. My house was in rubble. I gathered nothing, except anger, desperation, frustration and hatredness. If my house was intact and the neighbours were there, I would have thought to stay there” said Ameer Iyub Khan (40)

Education abandoned

Nazreena Fowzy

“My family lost everything due to displacement. We have hidden the jeweleries in a thermos flask, and in the folds of clothes, which we were wearing during the journey. But all were confiscated by the LTTE cadres. I was 17 year old, when displaced. My parents managed to send me to school in Puttlam, and I have finished my education. But most parents found it difficult to let their children to continue their education. Because they were pushed to poverty after displacement; forced to stay in camps; and they were jobless; and could not afford to send their children to school.

The children who were displaced had to face discrimination at schools. I was not allowed to take part in any sports or extra curricular activities. Our talents were wasted” said Nazreena Fowzy (34) who is pre-school supervisor.

Called Refugee

Hasana Farwin

“I was eight year -old, when we had to leave. I was crying throughout the journey from Jaffna to Puttlam. My other family members tease me about it even now. I will not go back to Jaffna, because I am used to this place and people, and it’s very hard for me to go back and adjust. The Internally Displaced Persons are still called “Agathi” or refugee by the host community. We did not choose to be Internally Displaced Persons. Even the National Identity card has house number and camp address instead of our home town address” said Hasana Farwin (24).

I met another set of females in a resettlement village known as Karambai A Camp. They got expelled from Mannar in October 1990. There are 450 families-2250 members living in this village. They are faced with similar problems as Sathamiyapuram people.

We have no hatred feelings

Ramzia Muththalif

“I do not hate Tamils. Tamils and Muslims lived in harmony before 1990. Even after we got expelled, we have no hatred feelings towards the Tamils. They were not responsible for the expulsion. We gave refugee to Tamils from Periya Kadai, Sinna Kadai, Ezhuththoor, Thaalappaadu and Pallimunai during the heavy shelling and bombing in 1989 and 1990 in Mannar. They stayed with us. We gave them food and accommodation. Tamils and Muslims have had a very good understanding” said Ramzia Muththalif (38), who got expelled from Thaaraapuram in Mannar.

Frustration grows

Kasina Umma

“I will go back to my home town, if the LTTE gives a guarantee internationally that “Muslims will be safe in North, and we will not hassle them in the future”. I used to live in fear, while the fighting was going on between the Sri Lankan security forces and the LTTE. During the war I used to manage with one kerosene lamp to cook, then keep it off, and light the lamp again only while eating. Because kerosene was at scarce. We were caught in the middle. If any incident happened near our house, we would be targeted. I did not allow my children to shout, laugh, play or cry. Whenever I heard the noise of someone walking outside the house, I immediately clung and closed everybody’s mouths and asked them to keep quiet. Because if any noise was heard, the warring parties would come to my house to ask questions and search. I have suffered enough during the war” mentioned Kasina Umma (55).Her frustration was visible in her voice. She left Silavaththurai in 1990.

Tamil-Muslim relationship

Juwariya Uvais

“I am very worried about the relationship between the Tamils and Muslims. Before the displacement, Tamils and Muslims shared a lot and had a lot in common. But the displacement made a huge gap, which is growing. I wonder who is going to fill the yawning gap between these two communities. Muslims attended the weddings, funerals, house warming ceremonies, age attaining ceremonies and various other ceremonies of the Tamils before displacement, and Tamils attended similar function of Muslims. Now we hardly attend any ceremonies of this nature. I am very saddened about the current trend, which will lead us nowhere except for more misunderstandings between the communities.

Muslims from the North spoke the same Tamil which is spoken by the Tamil brothers and sisters. I called my father “Appa”, like the Tamils call their fathers. I never called my father “Vaappaa” just like Muslims call their fathers. We lived like own brothers and sisters. I am looking forward to a day, when Tamils and Muslims will forgive each other and forget the bitter past, and live as one family. That will be the most happiest day in my life” tearfully said Juwariya Uvais (39). She got expelled from Erukkalampitty.

Loss of identity

Nusra Shariff

“I was 13 year-old, when I was expelled along with my family from Thaaraapuram in Mannar. I have lost my cultural identity due to displacement. Women were not allowed leave the house and go on their own in Northern areas. Women are allowed to go out on their own here. I think that, it has been the tradition for several decades in the North, and I find it quite difficult to accept it and change myself accordingly” said Nusra Shariff (30).

Future of children

Thaslima Sajun

“I have three children, who were born in Puttlam. They do not know anything about the ancestral house. I wanted to take them to Mannar to show the culture I followed. But the situation does not permit to take them and stay there for a while. These children will grow up without knowing the values of our culture and tradition. And on the other hand I do not want to take any risk, and go and settle in Mannar, because of their education” said Thaslima Sajun (32), who also was expelled from Thaaraapuram in Mannar. She is Montessori school teacher.

I met a woman who was expelled from Mankumbaan Islet in Jaffna. She now resides in Karambai A camp.

Afraid to return

Jemila Sherifdeen

“I was expelled from my house with my husband and two children-1 ½ year old and 3 ½ year old. Someone arranged a vehicle for us to go. We came to Puliyankulam, Vavuniya and Puttlam. It took three days for us to reach Puttlam. Initially I was in a camp along with the others. Food and immediate needs were met by various organizations. I went back to Jaffna in 2005. But my house was in debris; and surrounded by the military. I am too frightened to return and settle down in Jaffna” said Jemila Sherifdeen (43)

Kids in Karambai

Kids play in the by-lanes; there is not enough space in their houses

Kids at play in Thillaiyady

Mohamed Sajan (5) at his house

Hasana Faiz (9) wants to become a teacher

Women returning home after dress making lessons

Kids watch while their parents meeting the journalists from Colombo

Women complain that, there is no privacy in the houses as there are extended family members

Kitchen utencils are washed and kept to dry in sunlight

Space is very limited

They wonder when they will get the permanent houses

Journalists and Internally Displaced Persons are engaged in discussion

[This article is written based on the information gathered during a field visit to Puttlam, organized by the Sri Lanka Women Journalists Network]

[HumanityAshore – Email: dushi.pillai@gmail.com ]

Sri Lanka Public Service Journalism Awards 2007

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

The Public Service Journalism Awards 2007 was much-awaited event among the provincial journalists in Sri Lanka. The glamorous event was held on November 16 th 2007 at the Galle Face Hotel.

Last year 521 applications were received for the awards. There were 748 applications received for this year’s awards. Applications were received from all nine provinces – North, East, West, South, Central, Uva, Sabaragamuwa, North Western, and North Central.

Apart from Public Service Journalism Awards, awards were also presented for tolerance. Awards for tolerance were presented for the first time in Sri Lanka. Public Service Journalism Awards ceremony is a landmark event in the history of Sri Lankan media. The initiative is appreciated by the journalists, and activists, which encourages the provincial journalists.

Seremdi Adi troupe was introduced at the event to understand and respect ethnic diversity. Cartoon depicting media freedom which appeared in Sinhala, Tamil and English were hanged at the venue, and caught the attention of the attendees.

The event was organized by the Centre for Policy Alternatives with the support of the Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, Federation of Media Employees Trade Union, Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance and Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum with the collaboration of International Federation of Journalists.

The Public Service Journalism Awards was inaugurated in 2006.

Candles werelit and a minute silence was observed to pay tribute to the colleagues who have paid the price for journalism

The awards night began with the beat of the drums

Near a sign directing towards Jaffna, A civilian: “Oh no, it looks like the war has erupted”
Another civilian: “Dont you know; it’s Journalists from Colombo proceeding”

This cartoon appeared on Thinakkural newspaper on 24th June 2006, which was displayed at the awards venue

N. Parameshwaran, journalist from Jaffna received his award from the Editor of Maubima newspaper Kuruvita Banda. He was awarded the first place in Public Journalism for writing a piece on the shortage of milk powder in Jaffna peninsula.

C.Ranasinghe, Medigiriya provincial journalists of Lankadeepa received his award from the News Editor of Sunday Thinakkural R. Bharathy

The Public Service Journalism Awards Ceremony is held to encourage the provincial journalists

The winner of Western Province B. L. D. Nandasiri, Moratuw area journalist of Lakbima received his award from the Director of Sri Lanka Press Institute Ranga Kalansooriya

Media personnels covering the event

Ajith Vasantha Yapa, journalist of Uva Community Radio, received his award from the Chief Editor of Young Asia Television Mrs. Sharmini Boyle

Comedy item by Wijaya Nandasiri and Rodney Warnakula

“The journalists in Sri Lanka are still courageous amidst the current situation in the country” commended a Western journalist recently

“Journalists outside Colombo are at greatest risk as violence escalates. They have less security and are more vulnerable to violence from all sides. On top of this they receive less support, resources and pay from their employers”, said Jacqueline Park, Director, Asia-Pacific, International Federation of Journalists – speaking at today’s event.

V. T. Sagathevarajah, Amapara area journalist of Virakesari received his award from the Editor of the Sunday Virakesari P.Devaraj

Ranjith Jayasundara, Vavuniya area journalist of the Lankadeepa received his award for tolerance in Northern Province from the Chairperson of the Neelan Thiruchelavam Trust Mrs. Sithy Thiruchelvam

Audeince at the event

Radhika Devakumar, journalist from Pirai FM in Batticaloa received her award from the Consultant of Centre for Policy Alternatives Dr.Devanesan Nesaiah. She was awarded National Tolenrance Prize. She was also awarded an award for tolerance in Easterne Province

Seremdi Adi troupe performed and African fusion. Their forefathers were from Africa, and the current generation is living in North Western Province

The National Winner of thrr Publci Service Journalism 2007 was Premalal Wijesinghe of the Kandurata Radio. He received his award from International Federation of Journalists Asia Pacific Director Jacquie Park

Public Service Journalism promotes journalists who strive to adhere public service values in their journalistic practice

National Winner of the Public Service Journalism Awrads 2007 Premalal Wijesinghe of the Kandurata Radio was greeted by the convener of the Free Media Movement Sunanda Deshapriya

Group photo of the winners

Journalists in Sri Lanka have united and decided to voice together against the suppression of media freedom

PSJ PROVINCIAL WINNERS

UVA

1 Ajith Wasantha Epa

2 Samarakoon Bandara

3 Sujeewa I.Kumari

Central

1 Premalal Wijesinghe

2 Nimal Bogahawatta

3 Asela Kuruluwansa

North Central

1 C.Ranasinghe

2 Sarath Manula Wickrama

3 Karunaratne Gamage

Western

1 B.L.D.Nandasiri

2 Vineetha Manel Gamage

3 S.Madawala

Sourthern

1 Sajeewa Wijeweera

2 S.A.R.Mathangaweera

3 Lalith Chaminda

North Western

1 Sunil S.Pellandeniya

2 Sunil Kahagalla

3 Hiran Priyankara

Sabaragamuwa

1 N.H.Piyasena

2 Nimal Abeysinghe

3 U.R.A.Bandara

Northern

1 N.Parameshwaran

2 Suneetha Gamage

3 N.Nawaratnerasa

Eastern

1 Thilak Alahakoon

2 V.R.Sagadevarajah

3 Mangalanath Liyanarachchi

PSJ TOLERANCE WINNERS

UVA –

Central – Premalal Wijesinghe

North Central – Sarath Manulawickrama

Western –

Southern – Dhammika Ranaweera

North Western – Sunil Kahagalla

Sabaragamuwa –

Northern – Ranjith Jayasundara

Eastern – Radhika Devakumar

PSJ & TOLERANCE NATIONAL WINNERS

PSJ

1 Premalal Wijesinghe

2 Thilak Alahakoon

3 Sunil Pellandeniya

TOLERANCE

Radhika Devakumar

Related:

o Jury Report: Jury Report of Public Service Journalism 2007

o Full Text: Speech by Jacqueline Park, Director, Asia-Pacific, International Federation of Journalists, Colombo, Sri Lanka

o Full Text: Speech by Dr.Devanesan Nesiah

o Welcome Speech: By Sunanda Deshapriya, Convener of the Free Media Movement
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[HumanityAshore.org]
Email: dushi.pillai@gmail.com

ODEL Unveils 2007 Festive Theme

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Welcome to Paradise

The Christmas theme at ODEL is a much awaited event, and the department store does not disappoint with its 2007 theme- “Paradise Found”. The theme for this festive season was unveiled on November 15 th. The entire store has been transformed into an exotic garden with bejeweled parrots, stunning peacocks and sequined butterflies.

Adding to the vibrancy of the display, the product range this season will definitely excite the most avid shopper. An entire range of products featuring the “Paradise Found” theme will be available in all departments along with many more new products. Accessories, clothing, food items, exquisite gifts, Christmas decor and home furnishings are just of the new ranges, which will be available during the season.

Whilst this theme will appeal to everyone, it will be of particular interest to the foreign visitors to Sri Lanka, who hope to take a bit of a local paradise back home with them. ODEL is also targeting to promote its department store to the many foreign visitors will visit the country this season, with an offering of a sensory retail experience filled with local flavour that has been embodied in an iconic and glamorous way.

“Every year our team works for nine months to create a new theme, and adds new lines for the benefit of our valued customers” said the Chief Executive Officer of ODEL Ms. Otara Gunewardena.

She further explained the concept saying, “Every year, what we put together becomes a complete contrast of the previous year’s theme. The store has added a gadgets room to the gents section to include all kinds of accessories, and shower gel and baths, while ten fit on rooms have been added to the ladies section”.

ODEL has showcased several highly popular themes in the past such as “Red”, “Bling”, and “Fairytale Unfolds” campaigns. The department store will become the centerpiece of the city’s Christmas celebrations

A view from the escalator of the “Paradise Found”

Christmas decor at stores

The store is featured with vibrant colour scheme in blues and greens along with a series of fashion photography scattered throughout the store

Chief Executive Officer of ODEL, Ms. Otara Gunewardena posing for photojournalists

ODEL has taken Christmas celebrations out of the realm of the norm by creating a world of fantasy this season

The Christmas shoppers will be completely mesmerised at the transformation, which ODEL has undergone for the festive season

Christmas shoppers will indulge themselves in a glamorous and exotic shopping experience

ODEL is a popular destination for sightseeing, especially during the Christmas season

[HumanityAshore.org]

Email: dushi.pillai@gmail.com