Island Cricket

Friday, January 18, 2008

Lankan stars bat for Ramayana sites

The Hindu: When they were playing the gentleman’s game, Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva saw to it that their team fulfilled the expectations of their cricket board. These days the two former Sri Lankan cricketers are busy wooing Indian tourists to their island nation as they have both been appointed its tourism ambassadors.

Unveiling a thematic programme, ‘Following the Trails of Ramayana’, Ranatunga said he had come to Delhi to offer Indian tourists a chance to visit prominent religious sites as cited in Valmiki’s Ramayana. “I am not an expert on Ramayana and this is my first assignment as a tourism ambassador to India. Earlier I had the pleasure of travelling to cricket playing countries as Deputy Minister of Tourism. Now I have been assigned the task of encouraging people in India to visit our country,” he said.

Pointing out that the Indian cricket team will travel to Sri Lanka in July to play matches against his national team, Arjuna said: “I hope Indian tourists also come along as they would not only be able to watch the matches live but also get an excellent opportunity to visit some of the sites connected with the Ramayana..”

Aravinda said: “When the Minister of Tourism gave me the mission to promote tourism, I decided to give it my best. Today I am more educated about thee sacred places that we should all explore.”

Aravinda added, “We have had great hospitality in India and I often keep going to Bangalore as I have some friends there. Now I want to extend the same generosity and kindness in our country.”

Based on the findings of research, the thematic programme reveals there are over 50 sites in Sri Lanka connected with the Ramayana where the names of Lord Rama, Sita and Ravana find resonance.

By Madhur Tankha for The Hindu.

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