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Marriage and some amazingly accurate astrological forecasts



Excerpted from the Memoirs of a Cabinet Secretary by BP Peiris

(Continued from last week)

On my return from England as a fledgling barrister, I found that my kind father and mother had selected a bride for me, a close relative of mine. After about two months, he informed me of the fact, but I was reluctant to agree to marriage at so early an age because I was not earning enough at the Bar, not even enough to support myself.

Francis de Zoysa’s average of four guineas a month might, theoretically, have been a good yardstick, but for all practical purposes, my father had to give me money for my food and traveling which, for an advocate in those days meant first class travel by train.

In the meantime, every foreign mail was bringing me about six or seven letters from the girls amongst whom I had lived at Sutton and Ealing in England. They had all returned to their homes and the envelopes carried the stamps of their respective countries. They were harmless letters reminding me of old times, but parents probably feared that I might be under a promise of marriage to one of the letter-writers.

My mother was worried and her blood-pressure was rising. My father, to whom I had never lied since the caning I received from him for smoking in school and lying about it, asked me whether I had given a promise of marriage to any girl and said that, if I had done so, he would pull me out of the mess. I said I had given no such promise. Father then asked me why I was persistently refusing any offer of marriage and told me that my horoscope, which was a very difficult one to match, had been compared with the girl’s and had ‘agreed’ almost one-hundred per cent. I gave my consent. At the time of revising this (1976), I have been very happily married for 42 years.

My wife-to-be, Adeline, was related to me, but this relationship was extremely complicated. Her father, a simple and honest businessman, K. C. J. de Silva of Galle, was a highly respected man in the Southern province. The initials ‘K. C. J.’ were well known all the way from the Bentota Bridge down to Tissamaharama and the other way beyond Deniyaya.

I had an 18-month engagement. My father-in-law died three months after my marriage. He used to tell me stories about his rise to ‘power’, of his wealth and of the hard work which he had put in to earn that wealth. Of his integrity there was no doubt. This quality must have been ingrained in him; he expected it of others and he never forgave an ingrate. He held no university degree. But it could have been said of him that he had graduated in our local School of Business.

In the middle of my engagement, came one of the Supreme Court vacations. My normal visits to my fiancee was on Sunday by train. I had no car at the time, which was inconvenient as the train got to Galle at about 10 a.m. and I had to take the train back at 5 p.m. When the Supreme Court adjourned for the August vacation, I asked my father whether he could spare his car for me to go to Galle, and he agreed. I had arranged with my fiancee to come and spend the vacation at her house if her parents approved; but I had not asked her parents’ prior approval. The family had been brought up in a strict and conservative way.

On the morning following the commencement of the vacation, I had packed my suitcase for a two weeks stay at Galle. The suitcase was standing in the front verandah and the car was in the porch. I was about to leave when my father came out and asked me what the suitcase was for. I replied that it was the Supreme Court vacation. My father asked what the vacation had to do with the suitcase and I tactfully explained to him that the weekly Sunday train trips to Galle were wearing me out and that I proposed to spend my vacation with my fiancee.

He asked me whether I had obtained the permission of her parents, reminded me that I was not in England but going to the Southern province among very conservative people. I told him that I would take the bag, and that if I was not invited to stay at the house I would stay at the Hikkaduwa Resthouse. I reached the house at Galle at about 10 a.m. and my bag was taken out of the car and into a room. I asked the driver to take the car back to Panadura.

The home people knew that my only way of returning was by the 5 O’clock train. I was watching the clock – 4.30, 4.45 – not a hint from my mother-in-law-to-be, a kind woman, that I should get ready for the train. Five o’ clock. The train whistled and with it went my means of return. Seven-thirty, and I was asked to wash and be ready for dinner. And lo! I parked there for the next two weeks. The old couple were extremely hospitable. I received the impression that both of them liked me. They bought a piano specially for me; my fiancee did not know how to play.

And finally, came the wedding, June 8, 1934, with all the elaborate arrangements usually expected of weddings in the Southern province, in keeping with the status of the parties concerned. My father had reserved the hostel at the Manning Race Course at Boosa for the bridegroom’s party. We arrived there, changed and proceeded at the auspicious time to the bride’s house for the poruwa ceremony.

We were received with the customary honours and conducted inside by the parents of the bride to the place where the ceremony was to be held. Jayamangala gathas were sung by half a dozen girls while the bride’s step-brother was tying our thumbs with gold thread and pouring water on them. The ceremony over, I was a married man according to the customary law of Ceylon.

After the ceremony, our party returned to the Boosa Hostel for lunch. The wedding was in the afternoon. I had done only two things – booked the Police Band and booked the photographer. To the Bandmaster, I gave the programme to be played. I had no control over the speeches and, unfortunately for me, Mr G. K. W. Perera, who was asked to propose the toast of the young couple preferred to speak in Sinhala, a speech which I understood but could not reply to in that language. I thanked him in English in one sentence.

And then for our 10-day honeymoon on a quiet rubber estate which Mr Alfred Dias of Panadura placed at our disposal. The bungalow was beautiful and one of the most modem type. An excellent cook had produced an excellent dinner. We had a lovely, quiet holiday there, at the end of which we paid a visit to my wife’s parents. After two days at Galle, my wife and I returned to my father’s house at Panadura where we were to live for the next two years.

On our return, my parents were “At Home” to about 1,000 friends. During a traffic block on the narrow road in front of the house, Joseph Light, Assistant Government Agent, directed the drivers in such classical Sinhala that the drivers were unable to understand him. In the course of the evening, Francis de Zoysa made a speech and presented me with a purse from my colleagues in the Law Library.

Though my parents were of the view that, after marriage, a child should live in his or her own house away from the ancestral home, still, as I had no house of my own at the time, they readily agreed to park the two of us. There was never any unpleasantness during the two years we spent with them. My brother-in-law, Dick Dias, was building a house in Panadura. When I saw the plan, I felt the house would suit me and said I would take it when the building was completed. It was a neat, comfortable and compact house into which we moved.

Soon after my marriage, my wife and I went to consult Proctor Clifford Pereira who had given up his practice as a proctor and taken to astrology on the Occidental system. He worked from four-figure logarithm tables and charged his fees by the guinea as a lawyer. Our first visit to Clifford lasted several hours. He was a meticulous man and had a good astrological library. I had taken with me my horoscope written on an ola leaf.

He asked me several questions for over one hour – when I entered school, when I passed each of my examinations here and abroad, when I returned to Ceylon, when I was called to the Bar, when I married, etc. He worked for long with his log tables, my wife and I sitting silently before him. He then said, “The time on your ola leaf, tested with the information you have just given me, is wrong by nine minutes. I will cast your horoscope on the corrected time. Come and see me again in three weeks.”

I called again on the due date and he gave me an amazingly correct written forecast from 1934 to 1952. First, he asked me whether my wife was expecting a baby. When I said “Yes”, he said that the child would be born on April 23 following, and he was correct, where the doctor in charge of the case from the very beginning, my uncle George Wickramasuriya, F.R.C.S., F.R.C.P., F.R.C.O.G., was wrong.

Clifford then told me that I would get a Crown appointment in the Middle of August 1936, and inquired whether I had applied for anything. I said I had sent the usual application which every advocate sends for the post of Crown Counsel. He said I would never be appointed a Crown Counsel, that I would definitely get a Crown appointment but would not be in the public eye; I would be by myself, with books and papers and with no contact at all with the public. Reading further, he said “In the year … you will have a promotion, in… your second promotion, and in 1947 you will move into a political appointment.

All these forecasts were correct. But of them, I must speak in my later Chapters. Dr George Wickramasuriya, who brought my daughter into the world, was a much respected man. As I said before, he was in charge of my wife’s case from the very start. It was his last case before he went on two weeks’ leave to Nuwara Eliya. He had fixed April 10 as the date and applied for his leave accordingly. He had sent his family up in advance and was alone in Colombo, waiting for a summons in his last case, a telephone call from me; the confinement was to be at my father’s house at Panadura.

April 10 passed and we came to the 22nd. On that day, at about 3 p.m., I saw his car turning in at my father’s gates, and drums, gloves, sterilizers, and various other instruments were taken out. My wife was not in pain at the time and I asked him what all this meant. He said it was time she got “going”, that he had only three days more left of his leave and that he proposed to give her an injection, which he did, and left the house promising to return by 7 p.m. when, he thought, things ought to be going well.

My mother, whose cousin he was, had a room hastily prepared for him. He returned at the promised time, dressed as he always was, in a satin drill coat, waistcoat and trousers. As I stated, he came at 3 p.m. on April 22. The child was born at 7 p.m. on April 23 (Clifford Pereira’s first forecast). During all this period, throughout the night he refused to change into a sarong saying he was on professional duty and visited my wife’s room every half hour. A most conscientious doctor.

About half an hour after I had heard the cries of the baby, he came out of the room and asked whether he might have a bath. He then changed into an open shirt, his professional duties being over, and, being a most abstemious man, asked for a small whisky and soda. He must have been so very tired. After the first whisky, he took a second one, a most unusual thing with him, had an early dinner, after which he curled himself on the back seat of his large car and told the driver to drive to Nuwara Eliya. He had only two days leave available to him.

I had the greatest difficulty in getting him to send his bill. After about my fifth reminder, he said “Well, if you insist on a payment to me, give me…” which I thought was an extraordinarily low fee for such an eminent man. But he was one of those rare surgeons who had never a thought for a fee; with him service came first.

When I had a house of my own at Panadura, he used to come now and then to spend what he called a restful weekend. His medical bag was always in the car. It was an area of the houses of the wealthy, but right opposite my house lived a poor carpenter. The carpenter’s daughter was confined and the local general practitioner was having a difficult time with an instrument case when he noticed Dr Wickramasuriya’s car turning into my gate.

Before my guest’s bags could be taken out of the car, the carpenter was on his knees on my front doorstep imploring the doctor to come as the other doctor requested his presence. He returned after two hours having brought another child safely into the world. When I asked him what his fee would be in such a case, he said “I can’t charge that poor man a fee”.

He was human, he was sincere, and he was polite. There was always that smile on his face. Avaricious and selfish he definitely was not. He enjoyed helping, within his means, those who were in need, and his politeness went to the extent of raising his hat in a tram-car and giving up his seat to a basket-woman. The man, who could have had anything at all for afternoon tea preferred to have two slices of bread with a tasty fish or meat curry and I often enjoyed such a meal with him.

But there was also a streak of mischief in him. On On his estate at Pannipitiya, while he was playing tennis, he invited me to have some “barley water” which was in a large jug on a teapoy. I liked it so much that I asked whether I might have some more. Soon afterwards, I felt peculiar rumblings in my ‘innards’ and told him I was feeling ill. He smiled and said, “Not to worry, mister, you have only had a little too much sweet, iced toddy from the trees on my land.”

He died an early death and was mourned by his colleagues in the profession and more particularly by a grateful public. He had been the winner of the coveted Katherine Bishop Harman Prize by showing how many lives are lost through ankylostoma and hookworm in pregnant women. He received his prize in person at Oxford.

In the middle of August 1936, while spending a holiday with my wife at her house at Galle, I received a letter from father through a special messenger. To that, was attached the following letter ad dressed to me by the Legal Draftsman, which my father had opened:

Legal Draftsman’s Chambers,
15th August 1936

Dear Mr Peiris,

Will you be so good as to come and see me in my Chambers on Monday morning, about 10 a.m. I wish to offer you an acting appointment in this Department as an Assistant Legal Draftsman on a commencing salary of Rs 545/-.

Yours truly,

Mervyn Fonseka
I duly reported, was appointed and assumed duties on 18th August 1936 – Clifford Pereira’s second correct forecast. I served the Department for 11 years.

(To be continued)

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Selective targeting not law’s purpose



By Jehan Perera

The re-emergence of Donald Trump in the United States is a reminder that change is not permanent. Former President Trump is currently utilising the grievances of the white population in the United States with regard to the economic difficulties that many of them face to make the case that they need to be united to maintain their position in society. He is coming forward as their champion. The saying “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is often attributed to the founders of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, among many others, though Lord Denning in The Road to Justice (1988) stated that the phrase originated in a statement of Irish orator John Philpot Curran in 1790. The phrase is often used to emphasise the importance of being vigilant in protecting one’s rights and freedoms.

Ethnic and religious identity are two powerful concepts by which people may be mobilised the world over. This is a phenomenon that seemed to have subsided in Western Europe due to centuries of secular practices in which the state was made secular and neutral between ethnicities and religions. For a short while last year during the Aragalaya, it seemed that Sri Lanka was transcending its ethnic and religious cleavages in the face of the unexpected economic calamity that plunged large sections of the population back into poverty. There was unprecedented unity especially at the street level to demonstrate publicly that the government that had brought the country to this sorry pass had to go. The mighty force of people’s power succeeded in driving the leaders of that government out of power. Hopefully, there will be a government in the future that will bring the unity and mutual respect within the people, especially the younger generations, to the fore and the sooner the better as the price is growing higher by the day.

But like the irrepressible Donald Trump the old order is fighting to stage its comeback. The rhetoric of ethnicity and religion being in danger is surfacing once more. President Ranil Wickremesinghe who proclaimed late last year that the 13th Amendment to the constitution would be implemented in full, as it was meant to be, and enable the devolution of power to be enjoyed by the people of the provinces, including those dominated by Tamils and Muslims, has gone silent on this promise. The old order to which he is providing a new economic vision is clearly recalcitrant on ethno-religious matters. As a result, the government’s bold plan to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as promised to the international community in 2015 to address the unresolved human rights issues of the war, is reportedly on the rocks. The main Tamil political parties have made statements that they will not legitimise or accept such a mechanism in the absence of a genuine devolution of power. Politics must not override policies.


The sense of threat to ethnicity and religion looms too large once again for forward movement in conflict resolution between the different communities that constitute the Sri Lankan nation which is diverse and plural. Two unlikely persons now find themselves at the centre of an emotion-heavy ethno-religious storm. One is a comedian, the other is a religious preacher. Both of them have offended the religious sensibilities of many in the ethno-religious Sinhala Buddhist majority community. Both of their statements were originally made to small audiences of their own persuasion, but were then projected through social media to reach much larger audiences. The question is whether they made these statements to rouse religious hatred and violence. There have been numerous statements from all sides of the divide, whether ethnic, religious or political, denouncing them for their utterances.

Both comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya and pastor Jerome Fernando have apologised for offending and hurting the religious sentiments of the Buddhist population. They made an attempt to remedy the situation when they realised the hurt, the anger and the opposition they had generated. This is not the first time that such hurtful and offensive comments have been made by members of one ethno-religious community against members of another ethnic-religious community. Taking advantage of this fact the government is arguing the case for the control of social media and also the mainstream media. It is preparing to bring forward legislation for a Broadcasting Regulatory Commission that would also pave the way to imprison journalists for their reporting, impose fines, and also revoke the licences issued to electronic media institutions if they impact negatively on national security, national economy, and public order or create any conflict among races and religions.

In a free society, opportunities are provided for people to be able to air their thoughts and dissents openly, be it at Hyde Park or through their representatives in Parliament. The threat to freedom of speech and to the media that can arise from this new law can be seen in the way that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which is the world’s standard bearer on civil and political rights has been used and is being abused in Sri Lanka. It was incorporated into Sri Lankan law in a manner that has permitted successive governments to misuse it. It is very likely that the Broadcast Regulatory Commission bill will yield a similar result if passed into law. The arrest and detention of comedian Natasha Edirisooriya under the ICCPR Act has become yet another unfortunate example of the misuse of a law meant to protect human rights by the government. Pastor Jerome Fernando is out of prison as he is currently abroad having left the country a short while before a travel ban was delivered to him.


The state media reported that a “Police officer said that since there is information that she was a person who was in the Aragalaya protest, they are looking into the matter with special attention.” This gives rise to the inference that the reason for her arrest was politically motivated. Comedian Edirisooriya was accused of having violated the provisions in the ICCPR in Section 3(1) that forbids hate speech. Section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act prohibits advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, violence or hostility. The international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, has pointed out that in the case of Edirisooriya that for speech to be illegal on the grounds of being hate speech it requires “a clear showing of intent to incite others to discriminate, be hostile towards or commit violence against the group in question.” Amnesty International also notes that “When the expression fails to meet the test, even if it is shocking, offensive or disturbing, it should be protected by the state.”

Ironically, in the past there have been many instances of ethnic and religious minorities being targeted in a hateful manner that even led to riots against them, but successive governments have been inactive in protecting them or arresting their persecutors. Such targeting has taken place, often for political purposes in the context of elections, in blatant bids to mobilise sections of the population through appeals to narrow nationalism and fear of the other. The country’s political and governmental leaders need to desist from utilising the ICCPR Act against those who make social and political critiques that are outside the domain of hate speech. The arrest of Bruno Divakara, the owner of SL-Vlogs, under the ICCPR Act is an indication of this larger and more concerning phenomenon which is being brought to the fore by the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission bill.

The crackdown on the space for free expression and critical comment is unacceptable in a democratic polity, especially one as troubled as Sri Lanka, in which the economy has collapsed and caused much suffering to the people and the call to hold elections has been growing. The intervention of the Human Rights Commission which has called on the Inspector General of Police to submit a report on the arrest and its rationale is a hopeful sign that the independence of institutions intended to provide a check and balance will finally prevail. The Sri Lankan state will hopefully evolve to be a neutral arbiter in the disputes between competing ethnic, religious and partisan political visions of what the state should be and what constitutes acceptable behaviour within it. Taking on undemocratic powers in a variety of ways and within a short space of time is unlikely to deliver economic resurgence and a stable and democratic governance the country longs for. Without freedom, justice and fair play within, there can be no hope of economic development that President Wickremesinghe would be wanting to see.

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Have Humanities and Social Sciences muddied water enough?



By Maduranga Kalugampitiya

The domain of the humanities and social sciences is under attack more than ever before. The relevance, as well as usefulness of the degrees earned in those fields, is being questioned left, right, and centre. The question of whether it is meaningful at all to be spending, if not wasting, the limited financial resources available in the coffers to produce graduates in those fields is raised constantly, at multiple levels. Attempts are being made to introduce a little bit of soft skills into the curricula in order to add ‘value’ to the degree programmes in the field. The assumption here is that either such degree programmes do not impart any skills or the skills that they impart are of no value. We often see this widely-shared profoundly negative attitude towards the humanities and the social sciences (more towards the former than towards the latter) being projected on the practitioners (students, teachers, and researchers) in those areas. At a top-level meeting, which was held one to two years ago, with the participation of policy-makers in higher education and academics and educationists representing the humanities and social sciences departments, at state universities, a key figure in the higher education establishment claimed that the students who come to the humanities and social sciences faculties were ‘late-developers’. What better (or should I say worse?) indication of the official attitude towards those of us in the humanities and the social sciences!

While acknowledging that many of the key factors that have resulted in downgrading the humanities and social sciences disciplines are global by nature and are very much part of the neoliberal world order, which dominates the day, I wish to ask if we, the practitioners in the said fields, have done our part to counter the attack.

What the humanities and the social sciences engage with is essentially and self-consciously social. What these disciplines have to say has a direct bearing on the social dimension of human existence. It is near impossible to discuss phenomena in economics, political science, or sociology without having to reflect upon and use examples from what happens in our lives and around us. One cannot even begin to talk about teaching English as a second language without taking a look at her/his own experience learning English and the struggles that many people go through at different levels doing the same. One cannot talk about successful ways of teaching foreign languages without recognizing the need to incorporate an engagement with the cultural life of those languages at some level. No reading of an artwork—be it a novel, a movie, a painting, a sculpture, a poem, whatever—is possible without the reader at least subconsciously reflecting upon the broader context in which those artworks are set and also relating her own context or experience to what is being read. A legal scholar cannot read a legislation without paying attention to the social implications of the legislation and the dynamics of the community at whom that legislation is directed. The point is our own existence as social beings is right in the middle of what we engage with in such disciplines. To steal (and do so self-consciously) a term from the hard/natural sciences, society is essentially the ‘laboratory’ in which those in the humanities and social sciences conduct their work. There may be some areas of study within the humanities and social sciences which do not require an explicit engagement with our social existence, but I would say that such areas, if any, are limited in number.

Needless to say that every social intervention is political in nature. It involves unsettling what appears to be normal about our social existence in some way. One cannot make interventions that have a lasting impact without muddying the water which we have been made to believe is clear. How much of muddying do we as practitioners in the field of humanities and social sciences do is a question that needs to be asked.

Unfortunately, we do not see much work in the humanities and social sciences which unsettles the dominant order. What we often see is work that reinforces and reaffirms the dominant structures, systems, and lines of thought. Lack of rigorous academic training and exposure to critical theory is clearly one of the factors which prevents some scholars in the field from being able to make interventions that are capable of muddying the water, but the fact that we sometimes do not see much muddying even on the part of the more adept scholars shows that lack of rigorous training is not the sole reason.

Muddying the water is no simple matter. To use a problematic, yet in my view useful, analogy, a scholar in the said field trying to make an intervention that results in unsettling the order is like a hydrogen atom in H2O, ‘water’ in layperson’s language, trying to make an intervention which results in a re-evaluation of the oxygen atom. Such an intervention invariably entails a re-evaluation of the hydrogen atom as well, for the reason that the two atoms are part of an organic whole. One cannot be purely objective in its reading of the other. Such an intervention is bound to be as unsettling for the hydrogen atom as it is for the oxygen atom. Similarly, in a majority of contexts, a scholar in the area of the humanities and social sciences cannot make an intervention, the kind that pushes the boundaries of knowledge, without unsettling the dominant structures and value systems, which they themselves are part of, live by, and also benefit from. For instance, the norms, values, and practices which define the idea of marriage in contexts like ours are things that a male scholar would have to deal with as a member of our society, and any intervention on his part which raises questions about gender-based inequalities embodied in such norms, values, and practices would be to question his own privilege. Needless to say that such an intervention could result in an existential crisis for the scholar, at least temporarily. Such interventions also entail the possibility of backlash from society. One needs thorough training to withstand that pressure.

In place of interventions that unsettle the existing order, what we often see is work, which re-presents commonsensical knowledge garbed in jargon. To give an example from an area that I am a bit familiar with, much of the work that takes place in the field of English as a Second Language (ESL) identifies lack of motivation on the part of the students and also teachers and also lack of proper training for teachers as the primary reasons for the plight of English education in the country. This reading is not very different from a layperson’s understanding of the problem, and what we often see as research findings in the field of ESL is the same understanding, albeit dressed up in technical-sounding language. Such readings do not unsettle the existing order. They put the blame on the powerless. Very limited is the work that sees the present plight of English education as a systemic or structural problem. Reading that plight as a systemic problem requires us to re-evaluate the fundamental structures which govern our society, and such re-evaluation is unsettling is many ways. I argue that that is what is expected of scholarship in the ESL field, but unfortunately that is not what we see as coming out of the field.

If what gets produced as knowledge in the humanities and social sciences is jargonized commonsense, then the claim that such fields have nothing important to say is valid. If what a scholar in those fields has to say is not different to a layperson’s understanding of a given reality, the question whether there is any point in producing such scholars becomes valid.

In my view, the humanities and social sciences are in need of fundamental restructuring. This restructuring is not the kind which calls for the incorporation of a bit of soft skills here and a bit of soft skills there so that those who come out of those fields easily fit into predefined slots in society but the kind that results in the enhancement of the critical thinking capacity of the scholars. It is the kind of restructuring that would produce scholars who are capable of engaging in a political reading of the realities that define our existence in society and raise difficult questions about such existence, in other words, scholars who are capable of muddying the water.

(Maduranga Kalugampitiya is attached to Department of English, University of Peradeniya)

Kuppi is a politics and pedagogy happening on the margins of the lecture hall thatparodies, subverts, and simultaneously reaffirms social hierarchies.

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Girl power… to light up our scene



Mantra: Pop, rock and Sinhala songs

We have never had any outstanding all-girl bands, in the local scene, except, perhaps…yes The Planets, and that was decades ago!

The Planets did make a name for themselves, and they did create quite a lot of excitement, when they went into action.

Of course, abroad, we had several top all-girl bands – outfits like the Spice Girls, Bangles, Destiny’s Child, and The Supremes.

It’s happening even now, in the K-pop scene.

Let’s hope we would have something to shout about…with the band Mantra – an all-girl outfit that came together last year (2022).

Mantra is made up of Hiruni Fernando (leader/bass guitar), Gayathma Liyanage (lead guitar), Amaya Jayarathne (drums), Imeshini Piyumika (keyboards), and Arundathi Hewawitharana (vocals).

Amaya Arundathi and Imeshini are studying at the University of Visual and Performing Arts, while Gayathma is studying Architecture at NIMB, and Hiruni is the Western Music teacher at St. Lawrence’s Convent, and the pianist at Galadari Hotel, having studied piano and classical guitar at West London University.

They have already displayed their talents at various venues, events, weddings, and on TV, as well (Vanithabimana Sirasa TV and Charna TV Art Beat).

Additionally, the band showcased their talent at the talent show held at the Esoft Metro Campus.

The plus factor, where this all-girl outfit is concerned, is that their repertoire is made up rock, pop, and Sinhala songs.

Explaining as to how they came up with the name Mantra, founder member Hiruni said that Mantra means a word, or sound, repeated to aid concentration in meditation, and that the name was suggested by one of the band members.

Hiruni Fernando: Founder and leader of Mantra

She also went on to say that putting together a female band is not an easy task, in the scene here.

“We faced many difficulties in finding members. Some joined and then left, after a short while. Unlike a male band, where there are many male musicians in Sri Lanka, there are only a few female musicians. And then, there are some parents who don’t like their daughters getting involved in music.”

With talented musicians in their line-up, the future certainly looks bright for Mantra who are now keen to project themselves, in an awesome way, in the scene here, and abroad, as well.

“We are keen to do stage shows and we are also planning to create our own songs,” said Hiruni.

Yes, we need an all-girl group to add variety to our scene that is now turning out to be a kind of ‘repeating groove,’ where we see, and hear, almost the same thing…over and over again!

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