Sri Lanka has a cultural heritage rich in folk lore, myth and legend. In the years gone by our ancestors, after a hard day of labour, would sit together, chewing betel leaves, sharing their experiences, exchanging information and telling stories – folk stories, stories from the life of Buddha and other stories which have been handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. On occasion there will be a smart story teller who would garnish his tale with fitting sayings. These sayings went onto be a part and parcel of the Sinhala Language and came to be known as Proverbs. These wonderful Proverbs which so aptly describe certain incidents and situations were never documented but passed down through generations by word of mouth.
Today technology has not only made it possible for us to document Proverbs in the Sinhala Language both as text and as audio but it has made it possible to share it with others through Hela Pirulu – a website that brings to life proverbs that epitomize our cultural heritage. Together with the tales and stories that formed the background for these proverbs Hela Pirulu preserves is a unique site.
Proverbs represent a unique glimpse into the cultures and languages of the world, capturing worldviews and attitudes in a witty manner. Proverbs allow people around the world to share the wisdom of a local community. From oral to literate societies, proverbs reflect the rich heritage, folklore, faith, values, history, and essence of communities. In a globalising media world, it is important that cultures preserve and propagate their heritage.
Making the most of the Internet medium, it is important for traditions such as proverbs which are commonly shared by rural Sri Lankans to be preserved for future generations and for the global community. Proverbs along with their associated narration styles and illustrative stories are effectively captured in the Hela Pirulu project. They help preserve and archive Sri Lankan proverbs in the digital Web, and use technology to stem some of the impacts of migration and accompanying cultural loss.
The Web site Pirulu.com also presents proverbs via tales in a manner which makes them easily accessible to children via voice recordings. The interactive nature of the site makes is educative as well as entertaining for youth. The site has been put together with expertise in storytelling and creative dubbing, and also leverages existing social media such as YouTube. The project is a work in progress with many more proverbs to be collected and documented, and the e-Swabhimani Award recognises its merit and can help take it to the next heights of excellence. Since the site was launched just six months ago it has 6517 visits up to today.