Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 03 July 2016





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

 Book review

Creative and artistic

In the recent past, any topic as the cynosure of a discussion, whether a novel, short story, poetry, cinema or teledrama, is mostly related to the ethnic conflict.

Nihal P. Jayatunga

“Ruhiru Pooja” has been written taking the ultimate result of the ethnic conflict as the base. I wonder whether it has drawn the attention of the reader. Has it deviated from other books written on the subject, and directed towards a new angle recreated by analyzing the issue more widely and in depth.

Nihal has made a great effort and dedication to emphasize the element in the characters in “Ruhiru Pooja”. Hence the main characters in the story, Colonel Siridasa and Prof. Devaki and all other minor characters become alive, like live beings with flesh and blood who could endure pain, sorrow, shock and joy. The author has been able to formulate the personalities of men and women to be real and drift away from the mode of black and white pictures.

The book consists of 499 pages.

To create a story to interest the reader, and grasp it effortlessly is a feat the author has achieved skillfully, without getting lost among complex matters, writing in a delicate pattern, a simple text, flexible and in an attractive style.


The story of “Ruhiru Pooja” wraps around the ethnic conflict that we all know, which lead to the bloody armed struggle causing death to many thousands, on both sides. The author has gone deep into the issue, and recreated every incident with a sense of reality which enhances the confidence of the reader. Similarly, it is presented as an artistic text to establish the value of the story.

The main male character, the hero, is Colonel Siridasa, an army intelligence officer, as well as an active participant in army combat operations. On many occasions he commanded these operations. The heroine is a professor named Devaki. She is a Tamil and is against terrorism who hated the LTTE and the ethnic war.

Prof. Devaki’s two sons were killed while training in an LTTE camp in an operation commanded by Col. Siridasa. Devaki knew it. On another occasion Siridasa’s twin brother was abducted by a white van, mistaking him to be the colonel, and was never found.

Ruhiru Pooja
Author: Nihal P. Jayatunga
A Fastpublishing Publication
Price: Rs. 600

Col. Siridasa and Devaki meet each other at the Wellagong University premises. Devaki recognised him and looked at him with hatred in her eye. It was the first time they come across after 30 years. Eventually, the rift was patched up and they became friendly as Sri Lankans on a foreign soil.


The story flows with her reminiscences of the past. To expose the ultimate result of the armed struggle and depict the ruthlessness of the war, the author strategically uses the two main characters in the story. Only the soldiers realize how tough the war is. This army officer is law abiding, disciplined but sentimental. He did a lot to reform the surrendered terrorists. Similarly, a writer with human kindness. He leaves the armed services, cursing racism and the armed conflict.

Because of the spiteful politics, not only the army but the whole country lost a national treasure, such as, Colonel Siridasa.“Ruhiru Pooja” is a socio- scientifically and politically created novel mixed with war literature. However, a glint of romantic inclination between Siridasa and Devaki, especially, in Devaki appears and disappears throughout the story. It is because they were both on the same stage. Siridasa, then an army captain married, and Devaki a teenage student. Not knowing he was married she sent him some letters. Unfortunately, he did not receive them.

After three decades, they meet on a foreign soil by accident. All these years, Prof. Devaki lived with the sweetness of the past reminiscences, but Col. Siridasa realized it only at the end of the story. It appears that the author has built up this affiliation to grasp the interest of the reader. In the story, on the occasions they meet, the subject never comes up. However, hidden memories in Devaki’s mind and the fragrance of affection lingered on.

Maithriya or loving kindness towards humanity is the only remedy for wars, armed struggles and ethnic conflicts. Loving kindness is very rare, like diamonds. Glass splinters too shine like diamonds. But they are not diamonds. Nihal Jayatunga successfully presented this virtue through “Ruhiru Pooja”. It is a creative and artistic novel.

I have to say, although we reject racism, there are a few sentences and words in the book which rouse these elements.Finally, it is a must read for politicians, as it touches the sensitive pros and cons, the tragedy, frustration, treachery and hardship of an unwarranted civil strife of 30 years, which we all have experienced.

- Sarana Sri Mendis



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