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A Master in Silver Craft
[Updated :: 2011-07-29 16:30:20 Hours]

As you pass the Sivam Kovil on the Kankesanthurai (KKS) road in Jaffna city, your attention is drawn to a sound of scratch of metal. Turn to your right. You see an old house yearning for an immediate repair. Peep into the small house from where you get the metal scratching sound. You can see a well-built old gentleman sitting on a small bench surrounded by a heap of rubble, scraping a peace of metal with tiny equipment in his hand. You ask his name. He will say “Nan Letchumanan Gangadharan” (I am Letchumanan Gangadharan).

“I was born in Feb 1944 and went to Jaffna Navalar school. When I was at Grade 4, I felt that I must help my father who made souvenirs, curios and various other items out of wood, brass and silver. Gradually I found it creative and interesting. Since then I have been crafting items for people for 55 years,” Mr. Gangadharan, as he is popular among people, told the CIMIC team speaking in Tamil.

His Late father Mr. Letchumanan taught the art of crafting items with metal and wood.

“I am using all kinds of metal for my work. I am not using machines. Everything is done with my own hands. I have four assistants to help me,” he added embossing an art on a brass bowl.

When asked about his family, we learnt that his beloved wife Mrs. Wasantha Mallika passed away about 1 ½ years ago and one of his four sons also met a sudden death. Mr. Gangadharan has one daughter too. The youngest son Shanmugalingam, following his father, is doing small work with metal.

His craftsmanship has been recognized by giving many awards and a large number of certificates by various organizations. “I had no place to keep them. One by one gradually disappeared. Now I have only a very few,” Mr. Gangadharan said.

Out of all certificates he mostly admires the one sent by the Holy Father John Paul II from Vatican in appreciation of his service rendered to the church making a replica of Jesus Christ of brass. Mr. Gangadharan is a pious Hindu.

“I received the “Kala Bhushana” title from the Sri Lankan government in 2005 at a grand function held at the John de Silva memorial theatre in Colombo,” he referred to that memorable occasion.

“During the LTTE period we suffered a lot. I had to live away from my home. I lived at Mullai and Chavakachcheri. I had no work during that period,” he recollected past unpleasant memory.

“Recently Jaffna Commander Major General Hathurusinghe wanted me to make the symbol of Yarl of pure silver. He told me that he would give it to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. I made it and gave it to the Jaffna Commander,” he proudly went on to say, “Jaffna Commander promised me to give a photo of the occasion of presenting it to the President.”

Kala Bhushana Letchumanan Gangadharan lives at N0 314, KKS Road, Jaffna. We wish this Jaffna legendry figure good health and long life.

His contact number is 021 2228415.

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