Big Match Fever Hits!
March is indeed a month of celebration as traditions come alive. Schools hold their annual cricket matches and as age-old ‘rivals’ meet on the field, the streets and pitches erupt with jubilation. Despite the hard fought competition for glory, the camaraderie is unmistakeable. The big match season is the time to recall all the good old cherished winning moments. As the teams battle on in whites, in the stands the atmosphere is jovial with a lot of noise. The ‘old boys’, break into singsong, accompanied by joyful papare bands playing toe-tapping, hip shaking and arm waving baila music. School boys join in the revelry, under the watchful eyes of their parents and teachers. The roads come alive with vehicle parades, where boys and men on crowded floats wave flags, sing to salute their school and hold out their hats for a generous collection. Cheering crowds usually invade the pitch to congratulate the winning team. The oldest cricket match played between two schools in Sri Lanka is the ‘Battle of the Blues’ in Colombo between Royal College and St Thomas’ College. This year the match marks its 138th encounter. The match between St Servatius College and St Thomas’s College in Matara takes place for the 117th time. Also in the South, the ‘Lovers Quarrel’ between Richmond College and Mahinda College meets for the 112th time. The ‘Battle of the North’ takes place for the 111th time between St John’s College and Jaffna Central College. The oldest match in the hill capit
Sweet and salty refreshment – Kirala
Enjoy a cool sip of ‘Kirala’ while you adventure in the tropics. Its aroma is distinctive. A light green liquid that has a taste similar to wood apple juice, a hint of the sea and a sweet aftertaste. Kirala or the mangrove apple is a welcome beverage of refreshment as you travel through the southern town of Ambalantota. Kirala is a small round green fruit with a start shaped sepal or covering near its stem. It is commonly found by the coast. Its thick skin is peeled and the flesh of the fruit is mixed into a pulp with water. The juice is then strained into a glass and sugar or honey is added to create a beverage that provides absolute rejuvenation. At times a bit of coconut milk is mixed in to add a rich texture to the drink. In the south of Sri Lanka, especially around this time of the year, the sun shines bright. This makes kirala the ultimate thirst quencher. As you travel along the Hambantota Road, be it towards wild Yala, the historic Kirinde or exciting East Coast you will find kirala sellers by the road side. The little green fruits dangle off in rows, gleaming invitingly in the bright sunlight. Peddlers under a large beach umbrella or at the verandahs of their homes, the people of Ambalantota invite you to share a glass with them. Yet, kirala is not just a pick-me-up on a hot day. It is a native fruit that is filled with wholesome goodness. Infused with properties that ease diarrhea and alleviate skin diseases it is a great detox. It also cools your body.
March Getaways 2017
Howzat! Cricket fever hits the Island this March. Join in the cheer by watching the Big Matches and dancing to papare beats. Enjoy our hearty food, long strolls on the beach, cultural expeditions, cosy getaways and even get a crash course on tea tasting; there is something for everyone in Sri Lanka. And while you are here, make sure to try your hand at making tasty Kevum!
Konde Kevum – The Queen of the Table
They don’t resemble each other, save for the sweetness you discover biting into their textures, which tend to vary a lot. Out of this family of Sri Lankan sweetmeats, including mung-kevum, hendi-kevum, mee-wada- kevum and naran-kevum, the undoubted queen is konde-kevum. She rules over the sweetmeats on the festive table, and she is the Sinhala equivalent of ‘hot cakes’ when people want to talk about a sensational sell-out. When piping hot, they are a pleasure to munch onto.Today you find them a bit soft and pliant, but originally, konde kevum were hard. It was the practice to dip the sweet in treacle, when it would become less firm, and enjoy the dripping- delicious wonder. Today this method has become too costly. For housewives and the beginners, the biggest travail in making kevum is to master the conical bit in the middle of the kevum, the ‘konde’. But if you learn the correct (and really very simple) technique, this would be no issue at all.
Explore art and culture
Established in the 19th century, the Gangaramaya Temple has become a landmark and a place of vibrancy in its relatively short history. The temple was administered by illustrious monks like the Venerable Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala, founder of the Vidyodaya University for monks and Venerable Devundera Sri Jinarathana. What was once a simple structure on swampy land has evolved to lay claim to a fusion of architecture and decor from Buddhist countries in the region. It has a library, a museum and an extraordinary collection of ornamented and gilded gifts presented by devotees to the temple on display. The Temple’s main event takes place in February during the full-moon day of Navam Poya. The annual procession is a show of culture and tradition displayed in colour and pageantry with bejewelled elephants and dancers parading the streets of Colombo.
Where to stay?
Galle Face Hotel
Established in 1864, Galle Face Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Asia. With rooms over looking the Indian Ocean, the hotel faces the long green sweep of Galle Face Green popular with the city’s residents as the sun sets. The hotel has been spruced up for the modern era and has two wings, where the wooden and earthy tones impart a sense of comfort and luxury. A leisurely alfresco-style evening at the Sea Spray restaurant, The Verandah or at the Poolside Bar and Terrance is a relaxing and reassuring experience in the city. The 1864 Restaurant in the Regency Wing is for formal dining and matches the splendour of the wing’s ornate rooms and suites. The hotel is currently completing its renovation of its original entrance hall and rooms in the Classic Wing.
Located in the shadow of the twin towers of Colombo’s World Trade Centre, the Hilton Colombo is situated in the centre of the city’s commercial district with rooms recently refurbished to match the demands of today’s business or leisure guests. With a popular tea lounge off the reception lobby and seven restaurants and bars serving cuisine from different cultures, the hotel is almost a destination in itself, a welcome retreat after a day in the city. Its swimming pool lies across the road, reached by a footbridge.
The Kingsbury Hotel began life as the Ceylon Intercontinental Hotel in the 1970s but has recently been transformed from top to bottom into a glittery hotel with 229 elegantly furnished rooms with ocean views and an ambience of contemporary charm. The efficiency of accommodation is complemented with versatility afforded by numerous restaurants, bars, lounges, meeting rooms and public areas. The Sky Lounge on the roof top is the setting for a great night out overlooking the Indian Ocean, except when it rains since the bar really is open to the sky.
Ozo Colombo is a glittering new hotel on Marine Drive overlooking the railway line to the south and the sea beyond, close enough to the city for business visitors and far enough away for holidaymakers. With comfortable rooms bright with light from its western view, the latest in amenities and its pleasant staff, Ozo Colombo is dedicated to affordable hotel living. A morning walk along Marine Drive or a dip in the rooftop pool is a great start to the day. ON14, the rooftop bar lounge is gaining popularity among the city’s trendsetters.
Sri Lanka shopping guide
Vonel is a brilliant addition to Colombo’s shopping scene. With a reasonably large shopping space, the store is jam packed with various fashionable pieces of clothing. Upon entering Vonel, you realisethe range is truly quite extensive. What’s more, they have a decent selection of men’s clothing and also have a few branded items. Prices are quite reasonable for get quality products. Staff members are extremely helpful and make frequent recommendations having assessed your personal choice.
With more than 100 years of industry expertise, when it comes to jewellery making, Careems knows it all and does it all. Their products are modern, contemporary and are elegantly handcrafted using precious gems and metals. You can get anything from necklaces and bracelets to rings and earrings for both men and women, and what is more, you can even give them an idea of the desired design and get them to make it for you.
Tea Tang Boutique
Tea Tang produce tea of uncompromising quality from the best Sri Lankan bushes by using age old methods which have been nurtured through the ages. The company’s tea collections include green jade, plantation, hillcrest and gift moments. The Liberty Plaza store is a great place to buy gift packets for friends and family members. The company is committed to ethical practices, and has fairtrade, halal and EU certifications.