Aurudu Festival of the Mango Shades's Children

I had the opportunity to attend the annual Sinhala/Tamil New Year festival of my not three year old nephew's day care center. The daycare, which also runs a preschool as it's main business is the oldest and the most-heard place for the little children to get themselves ready for to step into the depressive, torturous school life where they are expected to survive the competition that promises them a high-paid government job.

As the preschool was located in a small, confined area, the festival was held in the ground situated in the heart of the city. Nearing the ground, I heard the sounds of loud speakers announcing the games and the events. Bright colored vertical flags decorated the sides of the road that leads to the ground. The ground had six or seven canopies dedicated to the parents of the respective section (Baby Class, Upper, Lower etc. ). The purple canopy was reserved for the special guests. I found the nephew's grandmother (or thamma in his own words), who also happens to me my mother in the purple tent. She was not a special guest and me too sat with her without knowing. The professional announcer soon asked the purple canopiers to leave it and make way for the real guests. So we went out even though there were enough chairs for the special guests. It was a weird weather. The sun was directly above us but there was a certain gloominess as well, making it a very sweaty and humid morning for the spectators. Soon it started drizzling and we went back to the purple canopy, which did not shelter a single special guests.

Most of the games were for the bigger children. So the babies were confined to the ground stand area. There were several traditional mud thatched, hey roofed huts that were made for the show. We were very curious to know how he would behave away from us. My mom and I went through the back of the ground stand to see how our precious doing among the fellow toddlers. He was lying on the mat, his elasticized sarong was up in his waist revealing his tiny shorts. The floor was dusty and the mat was covered in dust as well. The baby reminded us of an abandoned, neglected beggar child. Most of the baby class toddlers were in that un-cared condition while the daycare teachers were busy showing off the bestness of their institution, in the middle of the city, trumpeting through loud speakers.

The garbage bins were places so close to the baby-classesers that I saw my nephew happily (or out of hunger) exploring the garbage, probably looking for leftover food to fill his stomach.

Little students would be shoved in to the ground like cattle, when they are to be performed at a game or to perform a cultural item, amidst the diabolically hot April sun and the Bakmaha drizzle. Following the Awurudu Festival, my baby-class nephew had to endure a month of runny-nose, wheezing and sneezing.

Nephew's mother had given the teacher a pair of sandles and a cap (to protect him from the sun), but the teacher did not bother to make use of those. Mother had to run to child who was not in the usual chirpy, jovial mood to make him wear the cap and the sandles. The child seeing his mother, peed in his pants out of happiness. He refused to take part no longer in the torturous show. He came back to the purple tent, being dehydrated, drank half bottle of water. And took the longest piss he ever took. The so called day-care carers had not taken care of children's basic needs.

The announcer kept talking about the fame and the success of the school. A famous singer mimed a song about Aurudu, which followed a comment that commended the "great" service done by the Mango-Shade day care centre to the citizens. 

Parents also was discouraged to save their children from the torture as they want to be cordial with the daycare teacher.

Eventhough it was said to be held to teach students the importance of Sinhalese culture, Aurudu Festival of Mango-Shade aka. Amba Sevana was just a marketing stunt to popularize the day care institution, with the hopes of making more profit. The recently opened posher, good looking day care center (with a lovely ground and a modern play area) probably encouraged this selfish nonsense.

Just be careful, when you send your child to these kind of events. 


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