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Astrologer Nandana Viduruwan
"It will be bad for the country"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Astrologers dispute good luck times
Sunset
The traditional Sri Lankan New Year dawns on Thursday
By Amal Jayasinghe in Colombo

Sri Lanka marks its traditional New Year in the middle of April, but this year astrologers have failed to agree on the auspicious times to observe the time-tested rituals.

The coming year will either bring good luck to all Sri Lankans, or simply favour only banana growers, depending on whose time is followed.

The auspicious times are generally decided well in advance, based on the solar circuit.

The first meal for the New Year is cooked at an auspicious time that is determined by astrologers.

The colour of clothing to wear and the direction to face while cooking the first meal is also determined by astrologers and often followed to the letter by many people.

This time an astrological weekly known as the Irahanda, or Sun and Moon, kicked up a controversy, saying that the time of 7.39pm agreed by an official panel will bring bad luck to the entire country.


Stars
The country looks to the stars for the auspicious time
The astrological paper suggests that the first meal of the year should be cooked 20 minutes earlier.

However, the official astrologers, who have been appointed by the Cultural Ministry, insist that they are right and they have the stars to prove it.

They say that cooking the meal 20 minutes earlier will bring good luck only to those who are planting banana trees.

They say earlier cooking will also favour those who want to declare war.

But even before the pot is brought to boil, Sri Lankan astrologers have begun their war of words.

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