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