Caribbean Hurricanes 2017

By Wikum

While our charity primarily raises funds for projects in Sri Lanka, where possible we also contribute towards other humanitarian efforts around the world, particularly following extreme natural disasters. Over the last 2 months, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have caused devastation across the Caribbean. This has been the most destructive hurricane season in the region on record, with damages estimated at over $315bn (USD). The official death toll is 432 so far, with many thousands having been made homeless. Multiple islands and countries have been affected, including Puerto Rico, Barbuda, Saint Martin, Dominica, and the USA. International relief efforts continue, and that is why Gecko Sri Lanka has donated £250 to the British Red Cross and their hurricane appeal.

If you would also like to make a donation to the Red Cross, please follow this link: https://beta.redcross.org.uk/appeal/hurricane-irma-appeal 

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Diwali: The Festival of Light

Diwali 1

Happy Diwali Everyone!

Diwali is a festival where people from all age groups participate. They give expression to their happiness by lighting earthen ‘diyas’ (lamps), decorating the houses, bursting fireworks and inviting near and dear ones to their households for partaking in a sumptuous feast. The lighting of lamps is a way of paying obeisance to god for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valour and fame. But for those who don’t know, there’s a deeper story behind Diwali know as Ramayana.

So make a chai, take a seat, and let Uncle Ash tell you the story of Diwali.
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Years ago, in the city of Ayodhaya, there was a king named Dashrath who had 3 wives. The king was childless and so performed a fire sacrifice known as putra-kameshti yagya, this lead to the birth of his 4 Princes,  the eldest of whom was Rama. These princes held the essence of the God Vishnu, who had vowed to defeat the demon king Ravana plaguing that time.

As the princes grew,  one of the king’s wives was jealous of the king’s affection for Rama. She asked the king to exile Rama so her son, Bharath, could become king. The king once promised the wife to fulfil any wish of hers, and thus he was forced to exile Rama to the forest for 14 years, with his wife Sita and younger brother Lakshman. However, plagued by his grief, the king had passed away soon after. Bharath had learned of his mother’s wicked plans and sought Rama to ask him to return. Rama however, not wanting to betray his father’s final orders, decided to remain in exile. Bharath took the shoes of Rama and placed them on the throne whilst he ruled as Rama’s proxy.

Demoness

Years into their exile, the demoness Surpanakha came across the princes, and had fallen for their looks. She attempted to entice the pair, but was swiftly refused. Enraged, she transformed to her demon form to attack them. Lakshman retaliated cutting off her nose and ears. Surpanakha was forced to retreat to her brother, the demon king Ravana, who swore revenge on the princes.

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Later on, Rama went to hunt a golden deer that had caught Sita’s eye. However this was demon sent by Ravana to distract the prince, even calling to mimic Rama and lure Lakshman out as well. Sita was placed behind a protective line, the Lakshmana rekha,  which she should never cross. It was here that Ravana disguised himself as old beggar man, to prey of Sita’s compassion. As he begged the princess to feed him, he succeded in luring her beyond the line. Ravana reverted to his true form and kidnapped Sita, taking her back to his kingdom. Witnessing this, a vulture named Jatayu gave chase only to be mortally wounded. On their return, Rama and Lakshman came across the dying Jatyu who revealed that Sita had been taken.

ring.pngRam sought Hanuman, the monkey warrior, to aid them in their pursuit. Hanuman agreed as he had previously vowed to always be at Ram’s service, and brought with him the his army of beasts.

In their search, Hanuman leaped across the ocean to Lanka, where he finds Sita held captive in the garden of Ashok Vatika. He gave her Rama’s ring as proof of Rama’s coming to save her. Hanuman returned to Rama, but not before destroying many of the demon king’s forces and burning his land. On his return they begin their march across a bridge to Lanka made by the army.

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Rama and Ravana’s armies meet, where Hanuman and his army are able to beat the demons of Ravana. Ravana was the last of the demons standing against Rama. Rama gave Ravana a chance to surrender and return Sita to him, to which Ravana refused. Ravana and Ram exchanged blows, but nothing could beat Ravana. Rama’s brother Vibheeshan revealed the demon’s weakness was it’s Naval. Hearing this, Rama shot an arrow given to him by the gods to kill Ravana instantly.

Soon after the war, Rama, Sita and Lakshman return to Ayodhya at the end of their exile. Rama had asked Sita to preform the test of fire, Agni Pariksha,  to prove her chastity, as he wants to get rid of the rumours surrounding her purity. Rama undergoes his coronation and in celebration of light’s victory over the Demon King, Ayodhya is decorated with flowers and lamps.

So, there we go, the story of Ramayana and the meaning behind the festival of lights. Hope you enjoyed the re-telling and more importantly, hope you have a great Diwali full of light, happiness and GREAT Asian food

Written By Ashan Herath

 

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Gecko Sixes 2017 – Match Report

There is no bigger day in our calendar than the Gecko Sixes. Saturday 10 June was the date this time around, and the Committee were hugely excited for this edition of our charity’s flagship event. While there had been some rain earlier in the week, we were treated to a day of glorious sunshine on the Saturday itself. So glorious in fact that we had some poor sunburnt souls on the Sunday, but a price worth paying for a proper day of sunshine at the Sixes.

The tournament is a celebration of how we think cricket should be played: everyone being able to take part with a smile on their face and a bat in their hands. The format has been honed over the best part of the last decade, with 6 players (including at least one girl) on a each side and 5 over innings (each over bowled by someone different). The ball is soft and the boundaries are short. We even had some new touches this year, using markers to measure out wides and run-ups. It’s all about making the tournament as accessible and fun as we can. And just as importantly, it’s also all about the food. The usual selection of Sri Lankan short eats were devoured by the hungry masses. The introduction of Kotthu Rotti was a particular hit, and people came back for bowl after bowl.

So, to the cricket. This year’s edition had 12 teams – another great turn-out. They split into 3 groups of 4 in the first round. We saw lots of fantastic cricket in the group stages, and that got us to our quarter-finals. The top 2 from each group qualified automatically, with the next two lucky losers (based on net run-rate) making up a truly exciting final 8 in the quarters.

Team Lux edged past Team Madu. Team Ham saw off Team Abi. Team Yovaan eliminated last year’s champions Team Arun and Team Manthi eased through at the expense of Team Del. That left 4 teams for our semi-finals. The first was a clash of real heavyweights and great mates. Perennial contenders Yovaan and Miles took on Lux’s dynamic bowling unit. The result was a fairly comfortable victory for Team Lux, restricting Yov and co. to a manageable total and chasing it down to make the final.

The second semi-final saw the 2015 champions, Team Manthi, facing Ham’s motley (and loud) crew. Manthi’s boys put a strong total on the board, despite a flying caught and bowled from the opposition skipper. This display of hitherto unsuspected athletic prowess was such a surprise that it led to an impromptu pitch invasion and bundle from a number of men in their mid-to-late twenties. There was still a stiff total to chase, and though Ham’s troops had batted well on the day, this time around they were tied down in by a fantastic bowling performance, and Team Manthi deservedly progressed to the final.

So it was Team Lux and Team Manthi – both outstanding teams – who ended up fighting out an incredible final. Team Manthi batted first and the captain got them going nicely before being snaffled by a stunning caught behind. The middle order then kicked on to card an impressive 78 off their 5 overs,  a significant total considering it was the final.

However, they were pushed back by a genius batting performance from the classy opener Youhan, who hit it to all parts and kept Team Lux as favourites throughout their chase. The final over came and only 9 runs were needed off the last 6 balls. The tension rose as Lux was dismissed off the first ball. 9 off 5 with a new batsman facing. Dot, 4, dot – a fantastic effort from the bowler. 5 off 2, with the new batsman still facing. More drama as another great ball just passed over the stumps and the batsmen steal a bye. The fielding team appealed for a bowled, but footage from the square leg camera showed the ball just missed the stumps. 4 off 1. Phew. Youhan was back on strike and he dragged the final delivery through midwicket, with the fielders scrambling but unable to prevent the boundary. All over! Team Lux had claimed the title in the most dramatic of circumstances.

It was truly the final that a great day of cricket deserved. And once again, the tournament managed to bring people together to do their bit for a really important cause. We raised a phenomenal £986.36, and we are really grateful for your contributions towards this. This year, the funds will be donated to Chitra Lane, an organisation in Sri Lanka doing a lot of fantastic work in helping local children with special needs.

All that is left for this blog post is to dish out some final thank yous. The tournament was brilliantly planned and executed by Captain Deno and his supporting team of Yas, Madu and others. As ever, we were also indebted to the selfless efforts of the aunties at the food tent and the general support and umpiring of the uncles. Last but not least, thank you to each and every one of you who came along. Another great success – see you next year!

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The Gecko Sixes 2017

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Where?  Victoria Recreation Ground, Surbiton, London

When?  Saturday 10th June, 11AM

Price: £10 to play, £5 to spectate

Forget the Champions Trophy and IPL. It’s back people! Gecko’s cricket fun day returns next month. We would like to welcome people of all ages and abilities to the tenth edition of our annual tournament.

For those attending for the first time, the day is a six-a-side softball cricket tournament, which is not too serious and a lot of fun. Each game is 5 overs a side, with a round-robin league format followed by a knockout, ensuring plenty of match time for everyone. We would like to involve as many of you as possible, and this year all teams must have at least one female member. Girls will score double runs. Don’t worry if you don’t have a full team of six members- you will be joined with others in a similar position. Squads of more than six members are welcome, but the same six members must be on the field for the duration of a single game. As always, all proceeds from the day will support charitable projects in Sri Lanka.

Of course, your usual favourite Sri Lankan shorteats will be on sale, as well as a selection of soft drinks and cakes.

Please join our Facebook event page for more information.

You can also see what sort of fun is in store for you by watching the highlights of Gecko Sixes 2016 below:

 

Hope to see you all soon

The Gecko Committee

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The Gecko Pub Quiz 2017 – post quiz analysis

Spring 2017 brought us blunders at the Oscars in Hollywood, drama in the Champions League and the final triggering of Article 50. It also heralded the return of the much loved annual Gecko Pub Quiz.

Quizzers rumbled into the Railway Tavern for another evening of tricks, teasers and tickles. 6 fiendish categories, 12 devilish dingbats and 4 boisterous bonus rounds were all fiercely contested, with the victor taking home an indulgent hamper of goodies.

For those of you who couldn’t join us here are a few of the questions to test yourself with;


Geography – Photographer Oliver Curtis has taken photos with his back to famous landmarks – can you name this one?

Geog

TV & Film – Which of the following did NOT parody Donald Trump in 2016?
a) Jimmy Fallon
b) Meryl Streep
c) Will Ferrell
d) Alex Baldwin

History & Culture  What was the full name and title of the gentleman that Princess Margaret was forbidden from marrying?

Sports – Can you match the countries to their national sports?
a) Sri Lanka                   i) Volleyball
b) Pakistan                    ii) Archery
c) Bangladesh             iii) Field Hockey
d) Bhutan                    iv) Kabbadi

Science & Technology – Can you name the following fruit?

Science

Music – Can you name the song which has been drawn by primary school children?

Music


Taking the stage was our very own  Richard Osman, Denesh Srikantharajah who expertly guided the guests throughout the evening as our tall and awkward quiz master.

Once all the questions were over and the scores had been tallied, in a Gecko Pub Quiz first, there were two teams which were tied on points; “Let’s Get Down to Quizzness to defeat the Puns” & “Universally Challenged” both scoring an impressive 61 points from the 90 on offer.

To break the deadlock both teams went head-to-head in a tiebreaker round – nearest answer wins;

How many songs did Ed Sheeran have in the top 20 that day (March 12th)?

“Let’s Get Down to Quizzness” stole the show by correctly answering 16 to “Universally Challenged “‘s 9, and walk away with the well-deserved prize!

Thanks again to the Railway Tavern for providing a great venue again, and to everyone who joined us on he night. We raised an incredible £480 for charity and are looking forward to adding it at the Gecko Sixes on June 10th!


Answers below;

Geography – Statue of Liberty

TV & Film – c) Will Ferrell (Parodied George W Bush, not Donald Trump)

TV & FILM

History & Culture – Group Captain Peter Townsend

Sports
Sri Lanka – Volleyball (A-i)
Pakistan – Field Hockey (B-iii)
Bangladesh – Kabbadi (C-iv)
Bhutan – Archery (D-ii)

Science
A) Durian
B) Mangosteen
C) Cacau

Music – Cake by the Ocean by DNCE

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The Gecko Pub Quiz 2017

gecko-pub-quiz-2017Gecko Sri Lanka proudly presents the Annual Gecko Pub Quiz, now in its fourth edition!

Christmas feels like a distant memory, summer holidays are months away, you are broke from paying for weddings/stags/hens, and the prospect of work on Monday morning is making you want to curl up bed.

But what better way to beat those Sunday blues and make the most of your weekend, than by joining us for an evening of fun, games and great banter.

Come and join us next Sunday evening (5pm March 12th 2017) at the Railway Tavern in Liverpool Street, London, to battle it out to be crowned the Gecko Quiz Champions.

Gecko’s very own Paddy McGuiness, Denesh Srikantharajah, will be taking you through a scintillating mix of rounds that will cater for all tastes and levels of knowledge. They include Sport, Science, Music, History, Geography and Pop Culture, as well as challenging picture rounds and a sprinkle of lucrative bonuses. As always, the bar will be open for some quality pub grub and beverages to fuel the fun.

This year the winners will not only leave with the great honour of coming top of the class, but also receive a luxury hamper filled with indulgent treats for all.

What’s more, for only £10 entry, not only will you be having a wicked time, but you will also be doing a good deed, as all proceeds go to charity.

To get a flavour of what’s in store for you, see our Quiz Report from last year’s event here.

More details of this year’s event are available on Facebook.

We look forward to seeing you all for what promises to be a great night!

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Literary lovers in Lanka

Last month, Sri Lanka played host to some of the world’s finest writers at the Fairway Galle Literary Festival.

Sri Lankan authors included Ashok Ferry, Shehan Karunatilake, Nayomi Munaweera, Anuk Arudpragasam, and Sunila Gallapatti. The international roster contained the talents of Phillippa Gregory, renowned historical fiction writer and author of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, the multi-award winning Colm Toibin, author of ‘Brooklyn’ and Dame Margaret Drabble.

Over four days these brilliant literary minds treated and entertained book-lovers in a series of talks, workshops and presentations. For the first time the festival also included a whole day devoted to Sinhala language authors and their work. The festival also conducts an outreach programme, this year taking place in two schools in Galle and two in Jaffna, involving 600 children. The North South University Collaboration is another important initiative, bringing together university students and teachers from across the country and giving them a chance to interact, with a particular focus on building bridges and reconciliation.

Although the title heralds literary talent, the FLGF is a celebration of all cultural pursuits, and included events on architecture, poetry, cookery, journalism, film and theatre. For this, there can be no better location than the historic port town of Galle, the picturesque and artisanal haven, on Sri Lanka’s South coast.

Galle

The beautiful lighthouse in Galle

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2017 For Gecko Sri Lanka

Happy 2017 everyone!

We’re a month into the new year, well on your way to that new year’s resolution goal of “New Year, New Me”. Well Gecko itself has a new(ish) team leading the way for 2017, so I thought I’d take the chance to introduce us and what we have planned for the new year.

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President

Yasath Samarage
The new face of Gecko Sri Lanka, Yas is taking the reins as our president this year. One of our founding members, Yas has been a key player for us for the last 13 years! But it’s not all work with Yas, any chance he gets he’ll be dropping movie quotes like no tomorrow… even if a lot of the time we struggle to place them.13322127_10153922274113801_6764710462743254997_n-copy

Vice Presidents
Denesh & Ashan
Introducing the duo who are taking the role of joint Vice President. You’ve come to know Deno as the lovable host of the Gecko Pub Quiz, with his unique mash up of comedy and charisma.

Backed up by your favourite geek Ash (aka me), whose moustache ends up all over Instagram and Facebook every November. We’ll be Yas’s right (and left) hands these next 2 years… though… you’ll have to make do with just Deno during Comicon… #GeekLife.

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Secretary
Dharshika
Second of the Sri’ siblings, Dharsh is stepping in as secretary. With an infectious smile that keeps us all cheerful, Dharsh is our number one for lifting our spirits. Though don’t let that fool you, as the previous 1st lady of Gecko, she’s a seasoned pro at keeping us in order.

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Treasuer
Dilani
New to the committee, and to the charity itself, Dilani is taking the role of Treasurer. With a captivating and bubbly personality, Dilani is a welcome addition to the team. We’re looking forward to having her fresh perspective and ideas to help take Gecko into 2017.

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Special Advisory
Semini
Last but not least, Semini our special advisory (also known as Spad). To be honest we don’t really know what this position will entail, as we just made it up for her, but we just couldn’t go another 2 years without Sem having a role within the committee.

Also with another year, comes another set of events!!

The Gecko Pub Quiz
Our ongoing event held at The Railway Tavern in London Liverpool Street. A night of comedy, pub food, and Deno’s personal flair as our returning host. We’ll be posting information on this shortly, but for now please keep March 12th (Sunday 5pm-8.30pm) free for what promises to be an excellent night! Also there’s bigger and better prizes to be won, so bring your A game!

The Gecko Sixes
Our annual cricket tournament full of sun, fun, and of course… MUTTON ROLLS (other snacks available). Once again happening over the summer period, look out for more info on this in the future.

Movember
And of course, yet again I’m raising money for testicular & prostate cancer under Gecko’s name this coming November. Enjoy 1 month of me desperately struggling to grow a moustache in the name of men’s health!

So once again, Happy 2017, we hope to see you at our events, and hope you have a great year!!

Written By Ashan Herath

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Gecko’s 2016 in Review

From all of us at Gecko, we hope you have had a Merry Christmas, and wish you all a peaceful and prosperous 2017.

The committee would like to thank all of our followers for your support of our work this year, and we look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.

We held our Annual General Meeting in early December, and are pleased to welcome a new executive committee- more details to follow in January!

For now, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the highlights of our work this year, and update you on the progress of our supported projects in Sri Lanka, which your kind donations have made possible.

In February, we held our third pub quiz, once again at The Railway Tavern in Liverpool Street, London. Sri Lanka’s answer to Dermot O’Leary, Gecko’s very own quizmaster Denesh Srikantharajah guided everyone through a varied and entertaining series of brainteasers and fun bonus rounds. With some excellent pub grub and beverages, a great evening was enjoyed by all. Team “Ross Geller”, aptly named from being comprised of married couples and Ross, emerged victorious and took away the well-earned cinema vouchers.

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In May, torrential rain caused severe flooding in a number of areas in Sri Lanka, with a devastating impact on many homes and livelihoods. We were glad to be able to provide an emergency fund of £500.00 towards the flood relief efforts conducted by Sri Lanka Red Cross at this time of need.

 

August saw the return of our summer cricket carnival, The Gecko Sixes, now in its ninth incarnation. With the added excitement of a quarter final round, and freshly cooked hoppers, courtesy of RUCI foods, clear sunny skies, another great day out was had by all. We were also pleased to crown new Gecko Sixes Champions, attending the event for the first time.

 

In total, Gecko has raised £1,968.59 from the Pub Quiz and The Gecko Sixes this year.

In addition to the emergency flood fund (£500.00) donated in May via Sri Lanka Red Cross, we are proud to support further ongoing rehabilitation work by Sevanatha in the Sedawatte region, including the construction of basic facilities such a toilets which many families were stripped of in the flooding. Our thanks to Give2Lanka for facilitating this donation of £750.00 and supporting this as well as a large number of honourable charitable causes in Sri Lanka.

flooding

 

We have also donated £750.00 to The Organization of People for Engagement and Enterprise (OPEnE) to aid the development of their education hub centres in Iluppaikkadavai and Mannar in the North of the country, to support children in curriculum challenges and life skills, through after school classes.

 

opene-hub

 

Once again, our heartfelt thanks to you all for your support of our events this year. We are always looking for new committee members to play a larger role in organising our events. We are a friendly, approachable group of young volunteers in the UK and have really enjoyed working with Gecko over the years. If you are interested in getting involved, or know anyone who may be, please get in touch with us at geckosrilanka@gmail.com. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Finally, the committee would like to thank our outgoing president, Madura Jayatunga for his hard work and leadership over the past two years. Madu has been at the forefront of Gecko’s work right from its inception in 2005, and his drive to carry the charity’s work into its second decade has been inspirational to us all.

We wish you all a Happy New Year, and look forward to seeing you in 2017!

The Gecko Committee

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Flooding Relief Effort

By Yasath

Gecko Sri Lanka is glad to be able to donate £500.00 in support of relief efforts coordinated by Sri Lanka Red Cross Society following the devastating effects of flooding and landslides in Sri Lanka last week.

Torrential rain has afflicted the country in recent weeks, resulting in mass flooding and mudslides which are feared to have killed in excess of 100 persons, and left hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.

Our charity was founded in response to a natural disaster and while we are proud to have supported a number of long term community projects and initiatives since, we are glad to support the country any way we can in this hour of need.

Find out more about Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and their work here.

You can find more news on the flooding in Sri Lanka on the BBC website in the World News Section under Asia.

 

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Image from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-36320724

 

 

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