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Chandrikaday or the new SriLankan calendar
Gyan Fernando
Why name the days of the week after foreigners?...

Recently there was a jolly news item about Turkmenistan in the media. Turkmenistan is of course one of those non-profitable chemical waste recycling businesses that the Russians dumped, leaving the country in the hands of a megalomaniac despot. Apparently this chap had decided to change the names of the months and the days of the week renaming them mostly after himself or members of his family. See below:
Thursday, Friday, Saparmuratsday . . . By MARK MACKINNON Friday, August 9, 2002 – Page A1 MOSCOW -- The people of Turkmenistan can be forgiven some confusion this weekend when they wake up and wonder if it's Saturday or Spiritual Day, Sunday or Rest Day, and why the small Central Asian republic is locked in the month of AlpArslan. Calendar confusion was unleashed on the tiny, oil-rich dictatorship yesterday when Father of All Turkmenians, as President Saparmurat Niyazov is known, decided to rename every day of the week and every month of the year according to his wish.
Mr. Niyazov, who recently named himself President-for-life, decreed that the months should be renamed after national heroes -- starting with himself, as the new January. "I offer to call the first month of the year Turkmenbashi," Mr. Niyazov offered the annual People's Council. The autocratic President adopted the official title of Turkmenbashi (Father of All Turkmenians) in 1993, shortly after he was elected with 99.5 per cent of the vote.
He has banned all opposition parties.
He then offered to name the month of April "mother," until a council delegate suggested they go one step further and rename it Gurbansoltan, after Mr. Niyazov's mother.

When this news hit Sri Lanka great minds in the government, previously engaged in research on rubber bands and paperclips, were galvanised into action. Here was a God sent opportunity to distract the proles from the real problems of the country and at the same time curry favour with the leaders of the country. Very soon one delegation went to see the Pry Minister whilst another faction loyal to the opposition went to meet El Presidente.

SriLanka is no stranger to messing up the calendar to score political points. Readers of our vintage might remember the disastrous attempts in the 1960's to follow the Lunar Calendar. This resulted in weeks with differing numbers of days. Some weeks had seven days whilst others had eight. The holidays were pre-Poya Day and Poya Day which could fall anywhere in the traditional week. Confusion reigned and the economy took a dip. Crews of foreign ships docked in Colombo Harbour refused to work on Saturday and Sunday whilst local dockers refused to work on the PPday and the Pday. Quite often this was a loss of four working days in the week. The idea was abandoned after a while.

Chandrika of course means the Moon and the president's men decided to name Monday (Moonsday) as Chandrikaday and pipping the PM to the post who wanted Monday named after himself as Ranilsday. Thus miffed they decided to grab Sunday until objections were raised by the Catholic clergy who wanted Sunday to remain Catholic and named Nicholasday after the ArchBish. (Colombo schoolboys quickly changed it to Nickersday, but that is by the way).

At this stage the Mullahs decided to get in on the action and register Friday as their domain and very soon there was a dispute between government mullahs and opposition mullahs, the latter pressing for Fowzieday. With Monday, Sunday and Friday now unavailable the Pry Minister's men decided to go for Saturday until astrologers pointed out that Saturday is named after Saturn or Henahura! Thinking quickly they then grabbed Tuesday as Ranilsday and Wednesday as Maithreeday.

The latter was a good move as Maithree means " kindness to all persons" as well as being the Mrs. PryMinister's first name.

The Tea Plantation Tamils went on the rampage at Bogawantalawa and Hatton and wanted one day of the week named as Thondamenday. If not they threatened to urinate on the tea bushes which they do anyway. After a baton and tear gas charge by the Police, an annual event in any case, and suggestions that they - the Tamils - go back to India where they came from, the Tamils went back to their usual activities muttering "Ennadah!" under their breath.

Meanwhile the Buddhist heirarchy realising that the politicians were only interested in their own glory sent a petition and a delegation of one thousand monks to the Parliament lobbying for a VenerableReverandNarampanawéRathanajothiday. The Pry Minister promised an impartial look into the matter and promised action. A domain name registry was quickly set up and on the first day within eight minutes of opening the servers crashed due to the sheer volume of hits. The traditional names were suggested as was to be expected: Bandaranayake, Senanayake, Premadasa, Jayawardene.....
The film industry wanted a RukmaniDeviday and or a VijayaKumaratungaday. The Kandyans wanted a Ehellepoladay or a Maddumabandaday. Some suggested a Veerasaradielday conveniently forgeting that Saradiel was a highwayman. The Colombo disco crowd wanted a Mignonnerutnamday and Harris Hulugalla, the Editor of modestly suggested a Hulugalladay.

It was too much to expect the JVP and assorted Lefty Loonies to remain silent on this issue and a rally took place at Viharamahadevi Park where the names of Ernesto "Ché" Guevara and Peter Keuneman were suggested. It was pointed out that "Ché" Guevara was a foreigner. This came as a surprise to some. The meeting ended with the traditional stone throwing...between different factions.

Confusion reigned. Foreign diplomats invited to meet the Pry Minister on Chandrikaday went to the President's residence instead and bearing presents thinking it was her birthday. Important phone messages to foreign leaders caused more confusion.
"The Pry Minister Ranil is pleased to accept your invitation for tea at No 10 on Nicholasday...."
Tony Blair to aide: "Is it Christmas already? What is this idiot blabbing on about St Nicholas Day!"

There was no space to write VenerableReverendNarampanaweRathanajothiday anywhere except on a ten-foot long wall and this had to be abbreviated to VRNRday. A local wag called it Vara Nara Davasa.
School teachers got the worst of it as most of the pupils knew the different versions of the new days of the week but the teachers didn't.
The printing industry went into overdrive printing different versions of the calendar. Wedding invitations were hurriedly reprinted but the guests turned up on the wrong day.

North of the border fighting resumed between Prabhakaran's men and Tamil splinter groups.

They were throwing calendars at each other.
The Army watched on in amazement and with barely concealed amusement.

In the end everybody decided to have their own calendar and attack everybody else's.

: If it ain't broke, fix it!
Copyright © Gyan Fernando 2002. First written on the 10th of Nikini which happened to be Henahurasday.

Chandrika and I | Erik Solheim & I | My Part in the Census | Census Again! | Not Cricket! | I Crossed The Line | My Part in my Funeral | The Gamarala and the Temple | Gamarala and the Puhul | Two men and the bear | Incense and Candlewax | Fasting & Feasting | My Father & The Devil

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