‘COVID-19 and Lankan Heritage’ – National Library Lecture tomorrow

Wednesday, 20 January 2021 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The National Library of Sri Lanka invites the general public, including policy makers and academics, to a scheduled Zoom meeting on Thursday, 21 January with writer Frances Bulathsinghala on the topic “COVID-19 and Lankan Heritage.”

Frances Bulathsinghala is a Sri Lankan traditional knowledge enthusiast, writer, researcher, academic and social entrepreneur. She has over twenty-five years of experience in the media sector in Sri Lanka and South Asia. In the backdrop of working on several academic research papers, academic curricula and two books on Lankan traditional knowledge, she has consistently, from March last year to now, advocated a total re-thinking of current health policy responses for battling the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka.  

Writing every week in the local English print media for the past year; both in the State and private media, she has argued for the systematic/strategic use of Sri Lankan traditional medical expertise to safeguard national sovereignty by preventing indebtedness and economic debilitation caused by this pandemic. 

Writing under the name of Frances Bulathsinghala as well as the pseudonym, Surya Vishwa, she promotes Sri Lanka’s diverse indigenous/traditional knowledge/Intangible Cultural Heritage, including Sri Lanka’s spiritual Heritage. Pertaining to Sri Lanka’s medical heritage in this pandemic background, she is one of the few journalists who have consistently and weekly, for ten months to date, interviewed both Ayurveda and Deshiya Chikitsa (Sinhala Wedakam) physicians, presented their issues, and has especially written about the fact that at least 37 traditional Sinhala Wedakam/Ayurveda physicians had submitted their COVID-19 research-based medicines to the relevant Lankan authorities months ago and relayed their struggles for proper follow-up. 

She has highlighted, with evidence, the proven COVID-19 curative and preventive feats of the traditional medicines of these physicians, and that fact that thousands of persons in Sri Lanka and abroad have benefitted by them, despite lack of wide-scale mass media acknowledgement. 

She has highlighted Lankan quarantine centres and hospitals managed by Allopathic doctors using many components of traditional cures, and has written about Lankan traditional medical professionals being asked by foreign countries to assist them in the COVID struggle. She has also interviewed Lankan professionals coming together as the ‘Sinhala Weda Uruma Baraya’, to take a stand on supporting Lankan traditional physicians and assist Lankan authorities to secure the right of citizens to access expertise of traditional physicians to combat COVID-19 and to get the voice of the thousands of traditional physicians of Sri Lanka heard on what they have to say about their research on the COVID-19 virus.

Frances Bulathsinghala is known for writing about the need to mainstream, with far sight and vision, the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Sri Lanka, so that it is actively reflected in local policy making and influence, especially on Sri Lanka’s sectors such as education, health, agriculture, entrepreneurship, industry and tourism for the benefit of the country and people. As part of her entrepreneurship endeavours, she is currently working on several practical initiatives to promote Sri Lanka’s crafts and artistes abroad through the concept of heritage. 

Having questioned why Sri Lanka has not capitalised as a nation on its pre-Ayurvedic Deshiya Chikitsa (Sinhala Wedakama) medical expertise in writing, she is currently, alongside other professionals, committed to the task of uplifting Deshiya Chikitsa with the hope that local political stakeholders will consider practically implementing, with clear local strategy, this ancient medical practice for the benefit of Sri Lankans in this time of dire need and create a convincing backdrop for Sri Lanka’s Deshiya Chikitsa medical heritage to be considered for application for world recognition such as the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 

In her talk for the National Library of Sri Lanka she will primarily show that Sri Lanka’s ancient medical tradition is a spiritual and holistic exercise entwined in the Buddhist culture where to heal someone is an act of great merit and to become a medical practitioner is not a status-driven, or money making goal as the Western medical practice currently is. She will argue that Sri Lanka’s heritage is not just about monuments but encompassed in every sphere of lifestyle based upon a social framework of genuine sustainability, simplicity and respect for lives of all living creatures. 

Focusing on health as an integrated component, she will examine the need to re-look at harmful Colonial and globalisation influences in sectors such as education and agriculture to ensure that Sri Lanka’s authentic heritage knowledge, values and traditions are kept intact so that Sri Lanka as a nation is uniquely prepared for this era of pandemics, which could be a strong leveraging point internationally at a time when Western nations are collapsing economically. Her talk will point out that a younger generation of Lankans well versed in the country’s traditional knowledge, especially medical heritage of our ancestors, could inspire many new inventions, and bring pride to the nation. 

Topic: Meet an Expert | Third Programme - “COVID-19 and Lankan Heritage” by Frances Bulathsinghala

Time: 21 Jan 10:00 a.m. (Colombo).

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/ 77373198120?pwd=QzRtTE1aOG5IZHh3am5ZdEQyTTl0UT 09

Meeting ID: 773 7319 8120

Passcode: 1k7UsH