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SLFP Mudalalis



by Sarath Amunugama

While his supporters were fitted into convenient positions on State boards, Minister R S Perera was more interested in his own nascent business interests. He set up a factory in Kelaniya to make rubber slippers. Then he set up a factory to manufacture ‘mantles’ for Kitson lamps. Since we got on well he would invite me to his spacious office to observe his experiments in firing up the gauze mantles which gave a blinding light for the Kitson lamp. He confided in me that he himself had to conduct the experiment because if anybody else discovered the formula he would take it to another investor. A sudden visitor to his office would have found the Minister and his Director of Information huddled behind a table trying to ignite a Kitsons lamp – a task which was not included in the gazette notification which detailed our respective responsibilities. Apart from his pseudo cientific experiments RS soon began to leak Cabinet secrets to SLFP Mudalalis. By this time the SLFP, and particularly Mrs. B, had nurtured a group of native entrepreneurs who using state patronage had built up lucrative businesses. They were personally loyal to the Prime Minister and a few of her like minded ministers including Maitripala Senanayake, Illangaratne and Kalugalle. Those ministers were quite willing to instruct the State Banking system and the State Trading bodies to favour these Mudalalis. ‘These lucky businessmen included J P A Piyadasa, Dasa, McCallum, Ratnapura Gem merchants, Douglas Perera and a host of other smaller fry including R S Perera, who were solidly behind the SLFP. They were now alarmed that NM was dead set on dismantling their privileges. They also succeeded in getting the ear of Felix who was willing to ally himself with anyone in order to establish himself as the intellectual leader of the SLFP government. After every Cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning RS would come back to his office and telephone his Mudalali friends about the latest outrage proposed by the Finance Minister Some of them would then come over to personally inspect RS’s copy of the offending Cabinet paper. Then they would lobby their friends to get the proposals rescinded. NM and Bernard made proposals to clean up the Banking system. Any attempt to change the structure of the People’s Bank was strongly opposed by the Mudalalis. It was the People’s Bank under its General Manager Solomons that had provided easy credit to fuel the acquisitions and investments of the Mudalalis. The LSSP had appointed Hector Abeywardene as the Chairman and he was not hobnobbing with the businessmen as his predecessors had done. In fact NM’s tinkering with the Banks based on an outdated philosophy did more harm than good.

The economy was on a downward spiral and following the shibboleths of the Marxists, NM was replacing entrepreneurship with State enterprises with neither the managerial capacity nor the enterprising spirit to be a success. He was dismantling a system which could deliver the goods and replacing it with the dead hand of the state because of an out of date doctrine. No wonder Felix and the modernists of the SUP were aghast at the blundering attitudes of `golden brains’ NM. They called him a ‘Gadol Modaya’ instead. I can recoil one occasion when we were summoned by NM to discuss publicity for his programmes. I suggested that his numerous corporations be asked to publicise their work with newspaper advertisements. NM was horrified at this idea and said that he did not want the Corporations to spend money oil propaganda. Since he was also not willing, to spend money from the Budget for publicity the case for the Government went by default. He had no time for modern publicity and was content to leave that to his party machine which was nearly extinct. This was a silly attitude when the JVP was throwing the book at the leftist leaders and creating a huge wave of hatred towards them. I had a great friend in Sarath Nawana, a dynamic LSSPer who came back from UK with the 1970 victory. He wanted to modernize the propaganda effort of the party. He became the editor of the ‘Janadina’ the LSSP paper and rival to “Aththa” which itself was becoming more critical of the Government. The leftist ministers of the Government were constantly in fear of being pulled up by the PM at Cabinet meetings for the criticisms levelled in their party newspapers. Nawana was continually warned by NAM who however resisted requests from other leaders to fire him. Sira of “Aththa” was also being warned regularly though Pieter and Sarath Muttetuwegama defended him. I had to constantly interact with these two irascible journalists particularly since my Minister RS was their favourite target. By this time RS and his Mudalali friends had become bitter enemies of NM. They were constantly bad mouthing him and complaining to the PM while at the same time Kumar Rupasinghe was poaching leftist cadres.


N M Perera

NM had been my ‘Beau Ideal’ when I was in the University. With a double doctorate in Political theory at the LSE under Harold Laski he was a scholar and writer of the first rank. His analysis of the annual budget was the best reasoned speech in Parliament. After speaking in Parliament he would come to Peradeniya to repeat his analysis and we would listen spellbound by the clarity and originality of his exposition. Whenever NM spoke at Peradeniya the Arts theatre was jam packed with both staff and students hanging on to his every word. NM was always elegantly, though simply, dressed in white trousers and bush shirt with a weatherbeaten watch on his right wrist. I noticed that the dial of the wristwatch was turned s and NM would from time to time dramatically look at the time, perhaps a habit picked up in Parliament where time is rationed. He loved fancy shoes and sandals. Later when I would meet him at Colvin’s house, where he would sit patiently to pick up his colleague for a high class social visit, I noticed his brightly polished shoes which would have been the envy of a ballroom dancer. In fact NM was a great ball room dancer and ladies would compete to take a turn with him. All this was of course hidden from his half starved worker supporters who imagined that their leader was living on ,half rations.

As the Secretary of the University Economics society, which was a LSSP front, I would visit NM in his Borella house to fix dates for his and other party bigwigs visits to the Campus for lectures. His front office was full of books and newspapers which could certainly have done with some dusting. There was a large portrait of Trotsky indifferently hung up. In the middle of the room there was a large table with a mountain of files on either side. He guffawed when I told him about our requirements. ‘You people are with us only till you pass the CCS exam’ he said. ‘Only Batty and Shanmugaraja continued with us’. I assured him that this time it would be different. Little did I know at that time that he was prophetic. Any way he consulted his diary and gave me some was prop he tic. Any way he consulted dates and a couple of dog eared books for me to read. Vivienne Goonewardene came from inside the house and seeing that I was famished after the long train journey from Peradeniya, invited me to have breakfast. NM waded into the stringhoppers and I marvelled at his appetite. He had a broad chest which was barely contained by a sleeveless banian. He wore a checked sarong and had a pair of cheap wooden clogs on his feet. His wooden clogs were the stuff of legend. Apparently after their celebrated jail break on the eve of the Japanese air attack on Colombo during the second world war, NM held up the getaway by going back to his cell to retrieve his cheap wooden clogs much to the fury of Robert Gunawardene who had coordinated the operation ‘Yathura’. Significantly the LSSP selected the key as their party symbol for the election. NM was well known for his frugality and thrift. Sarath Nawana told me how he refused to loosen the purse strings for expenses for his party paper. While having breakfast he cut short our discussion about politics and was planning a Buriyani dinner expedition to a Muslim friend’s house. He asked Vivienne, who by this time was living with him, to ring up Leslie and invite him also for Buriyani. Many years later I had to interact with him almost daily during the JVP insurrection which I will describe later. After he was defeated in 1977, and was out of Parliamentary politics which had been his life’s vocation, I visited him in his Cotta road residence which he occupied after selling his Borella property. There were not many visitors then but his faithful Sena Gunasekera and long standing driver looked after him. I remember NM affectionately talking to his dog which curled under his table and was licking his toes. I was the Secretary to the Media ministry when NM died in hospital. My Minister Ananda Tissa de Alwis and I rushed there and coordinated the final ceremonies with JRJ’s concurrence. Though he was out of Power we ensured that NM got what was in effect a state funeral. have a vivid mememory of his old comrades led by Colvin whoa walked all the way behind the cortege and were sprawled on sports ground totally exhausted and oblivious to the official ceremonies that had begun and were being broadcast island wide.



With the success of the ULF, embassies of the socialist bloc became more active in Colombo. The PM made several highly successful visits to China ina and the USSR. She was so popular as the first woman PM that the Bandaranaike name became synonymous with Sri Lanka in foreign countries. With her trade mark Kandyan saree, flashing smile and inborn courtesy she made a brilliant ambassador for her country and global leaders vied to be photographed with her. In the Information Department we were inundated with requests for interviews which she handled with great aplomb. It was her and the country’s finest hour. Whenever Somasara and I wanted to meet her we would go early in the morning to Temple Trees and she would greet us graciously and quickly decide on the issues on which we needed guidance. Her officials in the Defence ministry – Ratnavale and Ridgeway Tillekeratne – had been my bosses in Ratnapura and were constantly in attendance at Temple Trees and we could all chat with her easily because of the Ratnapura connection.

She followed her husband in only using Temple Trees for official engagements and lived in her own house at Rosmead Place. Her house was well kept but did not have any of the garish furniture that has become so commonplace in politician’s houses today. The telephone was fixed to a bracket on the wall and Mrs. B would take calls in the sitting room for everybody to hear. After her state visits she would be received ceremonially by the cabinet on the airport tarmac. These festivities were orchestrated by T B Illangaratne. I was drafted into this ceremony because I had to bring my younger daughter Varuni and her friend Lekha Ratwatte, daughter of Mackie, to the tarmac to present bouquets of flowers to the returning PM. This was a nerve racing task for me as the two mischievous children would run around and had to be dragged back just in time to greet Mrs. B who unfailingly kissed them after receiving the welcoming flowers.

This is an excerpt from Sarath Amunugama’s three-volume autobiogbraphy, the first of which is now in print.


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South’s development debacle compounded by SAARC’s inner paralysis



From a development point of view, it’s ‘the worst of times’ for the global South. The view of some of the most renowned development organizations is that the woes brought upon the hemisphere by the Covid-19 pandemic have probably stalled its development by decades. The inference is inescapable that the South would need to start from scratch as it were in its efforts to ease its material burdens, once the present health crisis shows signs of lifting.

A recent Jakarta Post/ANN news feature published in this newspaper on January 14th, detailing some of the dire economic fallout from the pandemic on the South said: ‘Between March and December 2020, the equivalent of 147 million full time jobs were lost in the Asia Pacific region. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that between 140 million people in Asia were pushed into poverty and in 2021 another 8 million became poor…..Vulnerable groups such as women, ethnic and religious minorities and migrant workers were worst affected. Across Asia, informal and migrant workers suffered an estimated 21.6 percent fall in their income in the first four months of the pandemic.’

Needless to say, being one of the least developed regions of the South and its most populous one, it is South Asia that is likely to be worst affected in the current global crunch. A phenomenon that should not go unnoticed in this connection, is the rising number of the ‘new poor’ in the South. This refers in the main to those sections of the middle class that are sliding into the lower middle class and the ranks of the poverty-stricken as a result of the ill-effects of the present crisis. Job loss and decreasing income are some of the causes behind this rising tide of pauperization.

Referring to this and connected processes the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka states in its ‘Sri Lanka State of the Economy 2021’report: ‘Estimates at the USD 3.20 poverty line are forecasted to be at least 228 million, with a larger share of the population emerging from South Asia yet again. Initial projections for 2021 estimate the number of individuals in extreme poverty to be between 143 and 163 million.’ The stark and widespread poverty emerging in Afghanistan since mid-August 2021, ought to push up these figures quite a bit.

Considering that the South is way behind the North in developmental terms, the unfolding global economic crisis could be expected to widen the chasm in material wellbeing between the hemispheres in the days ahead. However, ‘the overwhelming question’ for the South would be how it could fend for itself in the absence of those Southern-centred organizations that could take up its cause in the forums of the world and bring the region together in an effort to work towards its collective wellbeing. The importance of this question is strongly underscored by the fact that SAARC is more or less dysfunctional or paralyzed at present.

The immense magnitude of the poverty question is yet to be realized by the ruling elites of the South. It is as if the chimerical growth spurt in some sections of the South over the past 30 or so years has rendered them numb and insensitive to poverty-related issues, including the ever-yawning gulf within their countries between the obscenely wealthy and the desperately poor. As is known, while the so-called ordinary people of the South have been wilting in dire want over the past two years, the hemisphere has been producing billionaires in disconcertingly high numbers. This could be true of Sri Lanka as well and the Pandora Papers gave us the cue a few months back.

By burying their heads in the sands as it were in this manner, Southern political elites could very well be setting the stage for bloody upheavals within their states. The need for substantial ‘bread’ has always been a driver of socio-political change over the centuries. They are bound to find their problems compounded by the accentuation of ethnicity and religion related questions, considering that such issues are taking a turn for the worse amid the current economic debacle. Vulnerable groups would need to be cared for and looked after by rulers and these include women and ethnic minorities. An aggravation of their lot could compound the worries of Southern rulers.

The phenomenal increase of billionaires ought to be researched more intently and thoroughly by Southern think tanks, R and D organizations and the like. Among other things, does not this disquieting emergence of billionaires prove that classical economics was wrong in assuming that wealth would easily ‘trickle-down’ to the masses from wealth creators, such as businessmen and other owners of capital? After all, we now have clear evidence that mountainous wealth could exist amid vast wastes of poverty and powerlessness.

However, the view of some commentators that ‘neoliberal policies of privatization’ and connected issues should now be reassessed and even eschewed ought to strike the observer as worthy of consideration. These policies that enthrone free market economics should be viewed as badly in need of revision and correction in view of the inherently unstable economic systems that they have given rise to over the past three decades. Their serious flaws are thrown into strong relief by the present Southern economic crisis which has resulted in some isolated, formidable towers of wealth and opulence sprouting in a sea of hardship and economic want.

Hopefully, we would see a renewed wide-ranging discussion on development models from now on. Ideally, growth needs to go hand-in-hand with equity if development is to be achieved to a degree. There is no getting away from the need for central planning to some extent in our efforts to reach these ends. Capital and Labour would need to come together in a meeting of minds in these endeavours. Development thrusts would need to be launched on pragmatic considerations as well.

However, a regional approach to resolving these issues facing South Asia needs to be renewed and persisted with as well. As long as SAARC remains paralyzed such efforts are unlikely to bear full fruit. Accordingly, India and Pakistan, the regional heavyweights, need to negotiate an end to their differences and help rejuvenate SAARC; South Asia’s key collective body that could usher in a measure of regional development.

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History of St. Sebastian’s Shrine, Kandana



By Godfrey Cooray

Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Norway, Finland and Iceland

According to legend, St. Sebastian was born at Narbonne in Gaul. He became a soldier in Rome and encouraged Marcellian and Marcus who were sentenced to death to remain firm in their faith. St. Sebastian made several converts; among them were master of the rolls Nicostratus, who was in charge of prisoners and his wife, Zoe, a deaf mute whom he cured.

Sebastian was named captain in the Roman Army by Emperor Diocletian, as Emperor Maximian went to the east. Neither knew that Sebastian was a Christian. When it was discovered that Sebastian was indeed a Christian, he was ordered to be executed. He was shot with arrows and left to die but when the widow of St. Castulas went to recover his body, she found out that he was still alive and nursed him back to health. Soon after his recovery, St. Sebastian intercepted the Emperor; denounced him for his cruelty to Christians and was beaten to death on the Emperor’s order.

St. Sebastian was venerated in Milan as early as the time of St. Ambrose. St. Sebastian is the patron of archers, athletes, soldiers, the Saint of the youths and is appealed to protection against the plagues. St. Ambrose reveals that the parents young Sebastian were living in Milan as a noble family. St. Ambrose further says that Sebastian along with his three friends, Pankasi, Pulvius and Thorvinus completed his education successfully with the blessing of his mother, Luciana. Rev. Fr. Dishnef guided him through his spiritual life. From his childhood, Sebastian wanted to join the Roman Army and with the help of King Karnus, young Sebastian became a soldier. Within as short span of time he was appointed as the Commander of the Army of king Karnus. Emperor Diocletian declared Christians the enemy of the Roman Empire and instructed judges to punish Christians who have embraced the Catholic Church. Young Sebastian as one of the servants of Christ converted thousands of other believers into Christians. When Emperor Diocletian revealed that Sebastian had become a Catholic, the angery Emperor ordered for Sebastian to be shot to death with arrows. After being shot, one of Sebastian supporters, Irane, treated him and cured him. When Sebastian was cured, he came to Emperor Diocletian and professed his faith for the second time disclosing that he is a servant of Christ. Astounded by the fact that Sebastian is a Christian, Emperor Diocletian ordered the Roman Army to kill Sebastian with club blows.

In the liturgical calendar of the Church, the feast of the St. Sebastian is celebrated on 20th of January. This day is, indeed, a mini Christmas to the people of Kandana, irrespective of their religion. The feast commences with the hoisting of the flag staff on the 11th of January at 4 p.m. at the Kandana junction, along the Colombo- Negombo road. There is a long history attached to the flag staff. The first flag staff which was an ariecanut tree, 25 feet tall was hoisted by the Aththidiya family of Kandana and today their descendants continue hoisting of the flag staff as a tradition. This year’s flag staff too was hoisted by the Raymond Aththidiya family. Several processions originating from different directions carrying flags meet at this flag staff junction. The pouring of milk on the flag staff has been a tradition in existence for a long time. The Nagasalan band was introduced by a well-known Jaffna businessman that had engaged in business in Kandana in the 1950s. The famous Kandaiyan Pille’s Nagasalan group takes the lead even today in the procession. Kiribath Dane in the Kandana town had been a tradition from the time immemorial.

According to the available history from the Catholic archives and volume III of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, the British period of vicariates of Colombo written by Rev. Ft. Vito Perniola SJ in 1806 states that the British government granted the freedom of conscious and religion to the Catholics in Ceylon and abolished all the anti-Catholic legislation enacted by the Dutch. The proclamation was declared and issued on the 3rd of August 1796 by Colonel James Stuart, the officer commanding the British forces of Ceylon stated “freedom granted to Catholics” (Sri Lanka national archives 20/5).

Before the Europeans, the missioners were all Goans from South India. In the year 1834, on the 3rd of December, XVI Gregory the Pope, issued a document Ex Muwere pastoralis ministeric, after which the Ceylon Catholic Church was made under the South Indian Cochin diocese. Very Rev. Fr. Vincent Rosario, the Apostolic VicarGeneral, was appointed along with 18 Goan priests (The Oratorion Mission in Sri Lanka being a history of the Catholic Chruch 1796-1874 by Arthur C Dep Chapter 11 pg 12) Rev Fr. Joachim Alberto arrived in Sri Lanka as missionary on the 6th of March 1830 when he was 31 years old and he was appointed to look after Catholics in Aluthkuru Korale consisting Kandana, Mabole, Nagodaa and Ragama. There have been one church built in 1810 in Wewala about three miles away from Kandana. Wewala Chruch was situated bordering Muthurajawela which rose to fame for its granary. History reveals that the entire area was under paddy cultivation of which most of them were either farmers or toddy tappers. History further reveals that there have been an old canal built by King Weera Parakrama Bahu. Later it was built to flow through the Kelani River and Muthurajawela up to Negombo which was named as the Dutch Canal (RL Brohier historian).

During the British time this canal was named as Hamilton Canal and was used to transport toddy, spices, paddy and tree planks of which tree planks were stored in Kandana. Therefore, Kandana name derives from “Kandan Aana”.

Rev. Fr. Joachim Alberto purchased a small piece of land called Haamuduruwange watte at Nadurupititya in Kandana and put up a small cadjan chapel and placed a picture of St. Sebastian for the benefit of his small congregation. In 1837 with the help of the devotees, he dug a small well of which water was used for drinking and bathing and today this well is still operative. He bought several acres of land including the present cemetery premises. Moreover, he had put up the church at Kalaeliya in honour of his patron St. Joachim where his body has been laid to rest according to his wish of the Last will attested by Weerasinghe Arachchige Brasianu Thilakaratne. Notary public dated 19th of July 1855. Present Church was built on the property bought on the 13th of August 1875 on deed no. 146 attested by Graciano Fernando. Notary public of the land Gorakagahawatta Aluthkuru Korale Ragam Pattu in Kandana within the extend ¼ acre from and out of the 16 acres. According to the old plan number 374 made by P.A. H. Philipia, Licensed surveyor on the 31st of January 195, 9 acres and 25 perches belonged to St. Sebastian church. However, today only 3 acres, 3 roods and 16.5 perches are left according to plan number 397surveyed by the same surveyor while the rest had been sold to the villagers. According to the survey conducted by Orithorian priest on the 12th of February 1844 there were only 18 school-going Catholic students in AluthKuru Korale and only one Antonio was the teacher for all classes. In 1844 there was no school at Kandana (APF SCG India Volume 9829).

According to Sri Lanka National Archives (The Ceylon Almanac page 185) in the year 1852 there were 982 Catholics – Male 265, female 290, children 365 with a total of 922. According to the census reports in 2014 prepared by Rev. Ft. Sumeda Dissanayake TOR, the director Franciscan Preaching group, Kadirana Negombo a survey revealed that there are 13,498 Catholics in Kandana.

According to the appointment of the Missionaries in the year 1866-1867 by Bishop Hillarien Sillani, Rev. Fr. Clement Pagnani OSB was sent to look after the missions in Negoda, Ragama, Batagama, Tudella, Kandana, Kala Eliya and Mabole. On the 18th of April 1866, the building of the new church commenced with a written agreement by and between Rec. Fr. Clement Pagnani and the then leaders of Kandana Catholic Village Committee. This committee consisted of Kanugalawattage Savial Perera Samarasinghe Welwidane, Amarathunga Arachchige Issak Perera Appuhamy, Jayasuriya Arachchige Don Isthewan Appuhamy, Jayasuriya Appuhamylage Elaris Perera Muhuppu, Padukkage Andiris Perera Opisara, Kanugalawattage Peduru Perera Annavi and Mallawa Arachchige Don Peduru Appujamy. The said agreement stated that they will give written undertaking that their labour and money will be utilised to build the new church of St. Sebastian and if they failed to do so they were ready to bear any punishment which will be imposed by the Catholic Church.

Rev. Fr. Bede Bercatta’s book “A History of the Vicariate of Colombo page 359” says that Rev. Fr. Stanislaus Tabarani had problems of finding rock stones to lay the foundation. He was greatly worried over this and placed his due trust in divine providence. He prayed for days to St. Sebastian for his intercession. One morning after mass, he was informed by some people that they had seen a small patch of granite at a place in Rilaulla, close to the church premises although such stones were never seen there earlier and requested him to inspect the place. The parish priest visited the location and was greatly delighted as his prayers has been answered. This small granite rock provided enough granite blocks for the full foundation of the present church. This place still known as “Rilaulla galwala”. The work on the building proceeded under successive parish priests but Rev. Fr. Stouter was responsible for much of it. The façade of the church was built so high that it crashed on the 2nf of April of 1893. The present façade was then built and completed in the year 1905. The statue of St. Sebastian which is behind the altar had been carved off a “Madan tree”. It was done by Paravara man named Costa Mama, who was staying with a resident named Miguel Baas a Ridualle, Kandana. This statue was made at the request of Pavistina Perera Amaratunge, mother of former Member of Parliament gate muadliyer D. Panthi Jayasuriya. The church was completed during the time of Rev. Fr. Keegar and was blessed by then Archbishop of Colombo Dr. Anthony Courdert OMI on the 20th of January 1912. In 1926, Rev. Fr. Romauld Fernando was appointed as the parish priest to Kandana Church. He was an educationalist and a social worker. Without any hesitation he can be called as the father of education in Kandana. He was the pioneer to build three schools to Kandana: Kandana St. Sebastian Boys School, Kandana St. Sebastian English Girls School and, the Mazenod College Kandana. Later he was appointed as the principal of the St. Sebastian Boys English School. He bought a property at Kandana close to Ganemulla road and started De Mazenod College. Later, it was given officially to Christian Brothers of Sri Lanka, by then Archbishop of Colombo, Peter Mark. In 1931, there were three hundred students (history of De Lasalle brothers by Rev. Fr. Bro Michael Robert). Today, there are over three thousand five hundred students and is one of the leading catholic schools in Sri Lanka. In 1924, one Karolis Jayasuriya Widanage donated two acres to build De Mazenod College for its extension.

First priest from Kandana to be ordained was Rev. Fr. William Perera in 1904. With the help of Rev. Fr. Marcelline Jayakody, he composed the famous hymn “the Vikshopa Geethaya”, the hymn of our Lady of Sorrow.

The Life story of St. Sebastian was portrayed through a stage play called “Wasappauwa” and the world famous German passion play Obar Amargave wchi was a sensation was initiated by Rev. Fr. Nicholas Perera. Legend reveals that in the year 1845, a South Indian catholic on his way to meet his relatives in Colombo had brought down a wooden statue of St. Sebastian, one and half feet tail to be sold in Sri Lanka. When he reached Kalpitiya he had unexpectedly contracted malaria. He had made a vow at St. Anne’s church. Thalawila expecting a full recovery. In route to Colombo he had come to know about the church in Kandana and dedicated to St. Sebastian. In the absence of the then parish priest Rev. Fr. Joachim Alberto, the Muhuppu of the Church with the help of the others had agreed to buy the statue for 75 pathagas (one pahtaga was 75 cent). Even though the seller had left the money in the hands of the “Muhuppu” to be collected in the meantime he never returned.

On the 19th of January 2006, Archbishop Oswald Gomis declared St. Sebastian Church as “St. Sebastian Shrine” by way of special notification and handed over the declaration to Rev. Fr. Susith Perera, the parish priest of Kandana.

On the 12th of January 2014, Catholics in Sri Lanka celebrated the reception of a reliquary containing a fragment of the arm of St. Sebastian. The reliquary was gifted from the administrator of the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua and was brought to Sri Lanka by Monsignor Neville Perera. His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjit, Archbishop of Colombo accompanied by priests and a large gathering received the relic at the Katunayake International Airport, brought to Kandana lead by a procession and was enthroned at the St. Sebastian Shrine.

Rev. Fr. Lalith Expeditus the present administrator of the shrine and other two assistant priests Rev. Fr. Sunath Udara and Fr. Sumeda Perea have finalized all arrangements to conduct the feast of St. Sebastian in grand scale. The vespers service will be officiated by his Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjit and the festival high mass will be solemnized by most Rev. his Lordship J.D. Anthony, Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo.

The latest book written by Senior Lawyer Godfrey Cooray named “Santha Sebastian Puranaya Saha Kandana”. (The history of St. Sebastian and Kandana) was launched at De La Salle Auditorium De Mazenod College, Kandana.

The Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and former Chief Justice Priyasath Dep were the guests at the event.

The book discusses about the buried history of Muthurajawela and Aluth Kuru Korale civilization, the history of Kandana and St. Sebastian. The author discusses the historical and archaeological values and culture.

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His musical exploits has touched millions of fans



Tribute to entertainer-singer par excellence – Desmond de Silva

By Trevine Rodrigo

(Melbourne, Australia)

The great Desmond De Silva, who departed from this world, on Sunday, January 9th, had been in hibernation for several months, due to the devastating outbreak of Covid, which shut down many parts of Australia.

After border closures were lifted, he embarked on a 31st night dinner dance, at the Sri Lounge in the Docklands, in Melbourne, where he delivered his last fully energised performance.

Widely regarded as Sri Lanka’s best singer/entertainer by far, over five decades, Desmond has covered every spectrum of music, in Sri Lanka, and later, in England and Australia, while wowing millions of adoring fans around the globe.

His achievements in music cannot be encompassed in a few paragraphs but his fans will readily testify to the indelible mark he has made as a wonderful performer. He was to Sri Lankans what Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra was to the world, showcasing a rare and extraordinary talent that even extended to Motown.

He has travelled through numerous countries as a band member, mainly Europe and Asia, and has teamed up with hundreds of musicians along the way who have marvelled at his unique presence on stage.

After years of globe-trotting as a performer, with the Jetliners and later the Spitfires, he then continued his work as a leader of his own band, Desmond and the Clan, and this setup was very popular in Europe and Scandinavia.

After years of adventure, on the road, he then settled on a solo career, singing as a guest singer and his popularity soared when he ventured into the Sinhala music scene, as well.

Before long, he commanded the respect of the nation by being proclaimed the King of Baila which skyrocketed his fame in an era that gave fame but no massive financial gain, as he rose to an iconic status.

Ironically, Desmond always harboured his love for Western music and quite naturally chose not to be categorised, or pigeonholed, as one dimensional. He has produced many CDs, videos and commands thousands of followers on YouTube, and other related music channels.

His impressive versatility and ability to own the stage made him a standout among music lovers, immaterial of their ethnicity, and, sadly, he is another of the Sri Lankan icons who have departed this world, alongside Sunil Perera (of the Gypsies) and Ronnie Leitch, in recent times.

His musical exploits has touched millions of fans through several generations and will continue to do so, such is the impact he has cemented as a once-in-a-lifetime performer. He has nurtured several musicians, along the way, giving them pointers which have helped them launch their own careers in music to great heights. He maintained a high degree of professionalism and would not compromise his standards for anything less.

Never the arrogant performer, Des had an uncanny ability to interact with his fans, on and off stage, and this trait would see him draw invitations from all over the world.

I for one was amazed at his stamina and durability…to be in England one day, then on to Toronto and other cities in Canada, on to Sri Lanka, and several other countries, until, unfortunately, the pandemic curtailed his foreign assignments.

In our own interaction with him, my wife, Anne, and I, shared a special love for the man who slipped into our lifestyle, seamlessly, with wife, Phyllis.

He was a caring and wonderful friend and would call us at least once a week, from Sydney, to check how we were going or to share a joke. Our lives will never be the same without Desmond De Silva, a gentleman and wonderful friend.

Yes, the brilliant musician and singer/ entertainer Desmond De Silva was tragically snatched away from our midst in cruel circumstances when he suffered cardiac arrest, in his sleep, while in Melbourne. He was 77.

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