Giving hope

Saturday, 5 March 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Cheranka Mendis

“Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.”- Phil. 2:4 (NCV)

In this busy buzz of activity we call life, we often forget to pause a moment, open our eyes and see:

see the burden another is carrying, the pain another is sharing and the fight another is leading. Often we ignore the world outside our box of thoughts until it is all too late- we learn only by experiencing it.

 Cancer, a murderous term and one that has been spreading its claws just too fast is a known global burden. Its continuous increase is due to aging and growth of the world population alongside an increasing adoption of cancer causing behaviour such as smoking. In Sri Lank large numbers are diagnosed every year while another lot succumbed to death. Social stigma is still high on the said illness and creating awareness has become top priority.

 ‘Walk for cancer,’ organized by Sri Lanka Cancer Society is being staged tomorrow from 3.30 pm to 10.00 pm. With the assembly point being stated as Viharamahadevi Park, the walk will raise funds for Cancer Hospital Maharagama.

 What better way to attract crowds and create awareness than have the most eye catching floats, innovative designs and colourful entertainment.  Playing her part in spreading the word, Sulochana Dissanayake, the newly acclaimed puppeteer will feature a brand new character- a life sized elephant lantern that will walk, dance and interact with the crowd.

 Drawing inspiration from her brief stint in South Africa and Indonesia, where Dissanayake saw the dances of South African giant puppets and Indonesian barong art; she with the help of Senior Lecturer, University of Performing and Visual Arts Dr. Lionel Bentherage has created a life size elephant lantern to be illuminated throughout the walk.

 Talking to Weekend FT, Dissanayake stated that the elephant lit up with powerful torches would sit on the shoulders of two puppeteers. Height of the elephant lantern on the puppeteers would be in the range of eight to nine feet tall. “My first experience with large puppets was in Bali. Here I present a reincarnation of what was made in Bali. It would be premiering at the parade and has been commissioned by the Cancer Society of Sri Lanka. Adorned in colours of the cancer awareness bands that has been out for sale- white, pink, purple, green and blue, the elephant puppet will carry the slogan ‘Life is for Living.’

 “The structure has been built with cane, cloth and string. Even though it is eight to nine feet tall it only weighs around eight kgs, and the secret lies in the support of the elephant and the puppeteers,” she said, “of course the elephant is called Raja.”

 Raja’s journey is only just beginning from the green path. He will be available for organizations that are willing to use performing street art as a communication method. “It is like a giant canvas. People can out their slogans etc on its body. It fascinates people, he can move, and people can interact with it.”

Be there to see Raja walking to the low country drums on Sunday and support a cause for cancer.