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The first ever social club in ceylon and the life of H.A Marshall-its builder



Whist bungalow 

by Hugh Karunanayake

When the Portuguese and Dutch occupied the maritime provinces of Ceylon from the 16 th Century to the end of the 18th century, it was more or less a military occupation with the ever present danger of the coastal government being overrun by the monarch who ruled the Kandyan Kingdom. That imminent possibility was mitigated to some degree with the annexation of the maritime provinces by the British East India Co; which occurred during the wars of the French revolution. When the Netherlands came under French control the British made its move to oust the Dutch from Ceylon. The Dutch surrendered the island(or more precisely its maritime areas) to the British in 1796 after some half hearted resistance. In 1802 Ceylon was made a crown colony and it was clear that the British were here to stay. In 1815 the Kandyan Kingdom capitulated to the British through a combination of intrigue, and disaffection in the King’s court rather than military engagement. The doors of the country were now open for British settlement and to exploit the nation’s resources to the advantage of the Metropolitan power.

With Ceylon functioning as a British colony, the stage was set for its administration through a Governor appointed by the monarch in Britain. The administration was done through a Civil Service established by the government and by a legal system largely based on Roman Dutch Law supplemented by laws and customs of the local population. Governor Frederick North arrived in the island on 12 October 1798 accompanied by 9 officials who were to administer the island. Among them were three “officers” Sylvester Gordon, Robert Barry, and George Lusignan, each of them just thirteen years of age!! ( Gives some indication of the confidence of the Brits who thought that even teenagers could keep the”natives” in check) There was also in the group,Henry Augustus Marshall who was appointed First Clerk of the Civil Department which was the precursor to the Treasury. Marshall educated at Charterhouse and Oxford was reputed to be the best classics scholar in the island during his stay. He married the daughter of Colonel Robert Brooke Governor of the Island of St Helena. Mrs Marshall was apparently a wealthy woman as suggested by Governor North commenting on Marshall as “married comfortably”.Mr and Mrs Marshall are said to have been very popular socially and JP Lewis the colonial recorder and historian believed that she was the guardian of the tree referred to on the inscription on the stone tablet seen to this day next to the Wellawatte Bridge on Galle Road. Others have suugested that the Sophia referred to in the inscription is none other than Lady Brownrigg.

At the time of British rule of the maritime provinces of Ceylon during late 18 th Century, it was the Galle Harbour that was the main point of entry to the island. The Colombo harbour was a tranquil bay used by fishing craft. The areas overlooking the bay of Colombo in the Mutwal area soon became elite residential areas, replacing the Fort and Pettah areas populated by the Dutch. The early British administrators were quick to acquire choice sites for their homes, the best of them overlooking the bay of Colombo. Many stately homes were constructed in the Mutwal, Modera areas. They included the Whist Bungalow, Modera House, Uplands, Elie House, Rock House, all of them located on vantage points overlooking the bay of Colombo. Three of the stately homes, Rock House, Whist Bungalow, and Modera House were built by Henry Augustus Marshall, the Civil Servant, in his private capacity.

Rev James Cordiner was appointed Chaplain to the 51 st Foot Regiment in Ceylon at the request of Governor Norh. A man of learning and of perceptive observation Rev Cordiner did a tour round the Island in 1800, which led him to publishing in 1807 one of the earliest English descriptions of the island in a two volume publication titled “A description of Ceylon, with narratives of aTour round the Island in 1800, the expedition to Kandy in 1803, and a visit to Ramessaram in 1804”.

Cordiner observed that “The English society at Colombo is uncommonly pleasant; and an assemblage of so many excellent characters is, certainly rarely to be found. The men at the head of the civil and military departments are particularly amiable: and all ranks live together in a mutual exchange of the most friendly and familiar intercourse….” And “Two weekly clubs which have been established at Colombo for several years past, contribute eminently to the promotion of social pleasures in the settlement. The elder is the Cocoa-nut, or Whist Club, at which the principal amusement is cards. The bungaloe where it is held, is beautifully situated, about four miles north east of the mouth of the Calany-ganga, which there receives the name of Mootwal. The club consists of twelve members, chosen from among the most respectable inhabitants of the place. They give dinners in rotation, and generally invite twelve strangers. Some of the members whose characters are celebrated for extensive hospitality, assemble a still greater number of guests. The entertainment is always liberal, and the assembly never fails to be animated with the highest share of convivial delight.The company repair to the villa about one o’clock in the afternoon, and play cards, read or otherwise enjoy the country, until four when dinner is announced. At half past five, or six o’clock, they rise from the table, make a circuit in their carriages or on horseback, and reach their respective homes before dark.”

What a glorious life the British pioneers would have lived. Little wonder that the aspiring”natives” modelled themselves on the social features of the life of the Brits. The creation of the Whist Club underscored the need for expatriate personnel to engage in social interaction. There were many other venerable institutions to follow in later years like the Colombo Club, Kandy Club, Hill Club all of which offered residential facilities. They were however not open to the local population, who not to be outdone formed their own Orient Club (a natives only residential club). Ethno specific sports clubs followed, and are there to this day eschewing some of the rigid ethno specific admission rules insisted upon at the beginning. Clubs were the order of the day during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the more exclusive the membership the higher the social status that exclusivity conferred! The rise of the new breed of hostelry “the Five Star Hotel” seems to have put paid to all those status symbols and hallmarks of privilege.!

While it is on record that Marshall constructed Whist Bungalow, Modera House, and Rock House there is no evidence to suggest that he ever lived in any of them. The history of occupancy of Whist Bungalow is on the public record. On the closure of the Coca- nut Club, Whist Bungalow was acquired by Sir Richard Morgan, Supreme Court Judge. It was inherited by his son who died suddenly and it was then under the ownership of Mr Louis Peiris and his wife Selina who lived there for many years. The house was featured in the encylopaedic “Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon” published in 1907, when it was occupied by the Pieris family. The Famed German Naturalist Ernet Haeckel who visited Ceylon in the 1880s resided in Whist Bungalow and wrote wistfully about his life there in his book “A visit to Ceylon”. The ownership of the house appeared to have changed several times, once even used as a tea store!. The house is presently managed by the National Housing Development authority as a community hall.

The first ever socia…

Members of CSA would be interested to know that the forbears of two senior membesr of the Society once owned Whist Bungalow. Maureen Henricus nee Morgan is a direct descendant of Sir Richard Morgan, while Chandra Senaratne’s maternal grandmother was Mrs Selina Peiris!

Modera House the other creation of Marshall was occupied by the Armitage family, the leading coffee exporters from Ceylon in the nineteenth century. The coffee crash seriously affected the fortunes of the Armitages who sold Modera House to the De La Salle Brothers in the 1880s and moved to Alexandra House, Alexandra Place. The house was later the premises of Alexandra College. Modera House was the location of the film “Elephant Walk” a classic movie of the 1950s. It is now a school run by the De La Salle brothers. “Rock House” built by Marshall was acquired by the government and is Army property for the past over fifty years.

Mr and Mrs Marshall were a popular couple socially. Lieut -Col Campbell in his two volume book “Excursions, adventures, and Field sports in Ceylon” published in 1843 had this to say of the Marshalls ” A gentleman and his lady upon whose hospitality and friendship I had little or no claim, most kindly received me into their charming abode, situated on the sea shore about three miles from Colombo, and it is to the care and attention of Mr and Mrs Marshall that I attribute my temporary recovery.” Famed colonial recorder and writer J Penry Lewis believed that the Marshalls lived near the old toll gate which was in existence at Wellawatte near the bridge over the canal. There was a large banian tree under which a stone tablet was installed praising the virtues of a lady named Sophia. While Mrs Marshall carried her first name as Sophia, it has been suggested that there was another Sophia- viz Lady Sophia Brownrigg the Governor’s wife.

While that riddle remains to be solved, we have to this day the stone tablet with the inscription. It was lying near the entrance to the bicycle shed of the Savoy Cinema, but since has been erected upright near the bridge. Our former President of the Colombo Chapter Somasiri Devendra published a well researched article in his usual scholarly style, which appeared under the title “Wellawatte Inscriptions” in The Ceylankan #9 of Feb 2000. The “younger” club that existed during Marshall’s time, the “Quoit Club” was according to Cordiner situated in an opposite direction to Whist Bungalow, about two miles south of Colombo on the road leading to Point De Galle. Is it possible that Marshall built the Quoit Club as well and also resided there? Could Cordiner have misjudged the distance from Colombo of the Quoit Club ? If such is the case there is more certainty to the speculation that the Wellawatte tablet refers to none other than Sophia Marshall. We are still however lingering in the realm of conjecture !

Henry Augustus Marshall died on 23 January 1841 in his 64 th year and was buried in the old Galle Face Cemetery. A tablet was erected in St Peter’s Church,Fort by his widow and two son “in memory of an elegant classical scholar and a sincere Christian.

Colombo of the eighteenth century was a tranquil place, rich in vegetation, and serene in outlook. It was James Cordiner who observed that: “Nothing about Colombo is more apt to excite admiration than the flourishing state of the vegetable world. So much beauty and variety are in few countries equalled, and nowhere excelled”. Is it a forlorn wish to hope for a revival of Colombo’s lost beauty ? Only time will tell !!


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Life style

My life in Moneragala



Memoirs of a GA’s wife

by Carmen Ranjini Amarasekera

It was in 1965 that Wimal assumed duties as GA Moneragala. We were just married and having been born and bred in Colombo, I was longing to live in an outstation. Moneragala was the ideal place for me because I loved jungle life. Kataragama, Yala, Bibile, Mahaoya, Nilgala, Lahugala and Siyambalanduwa were all within that district and close to Moneragala. The district also had a rich cultural heritage with many temples, not well known but of historical value. It was even more interesting because many people did not go there because it was not so developed.

There were only few people we were able to associate with – among them the DRO, (District Revenue Officer), DLO (District Land Officer), SSO. (Social Service Officer) and ACCD. (Assistant Commissioner of Cooperative Development). Most of them were bachelors except Mr. Talagune, the DRO. Wellawaya and his wife Kalyani whom I was quite friendly with.

About two weeks before the Katara-gama firewalking we had to be there in situ. As the GA, Wimal had to go about a fortnight earlier and take up residence there. He had to resolve problems arising there officially and I too joined him. That was the first time I saw the real Veddahs. They were from Pollabedde and their language was quite different to ours. I got used to Wimal being called Mahahura as they called the GA. We stayed till the firewalking and early next morning the water cutting ceremony in the Menik Ganga where the whole procession got into the water.

I enjoyed the firewalking spectacle even more at Kotabowa where they had another such ceremony annually. It was quite different because the GA and officials had temporary huts built for them during the festival. We took our mats, pillows, cooking utensils, lamps etc. and stayed there for two days. That was an enjoyable experience with the jungle all round us and a river flowing nearby.

I met many people who used to come there for the festival – the real rustic people. Sometimes I think most of us prefer to have a simple meal wrapped in a plantain leaf seated under a shady tree near a stream than eating with the best cutlery in a five star hotel. The memories I treasure are the simple ones even from childhood. Maybe we will always remember a picnic we had rather than a party. Just like that the two days I spent in Kotabawa stays in my memory.

Apart from the govt. servants there were two people there who were very friendly with us, Mr. & Mrs. Berenger, the Superintendent of Moneragala Estate. Millie and Clarence as they were called were very hospitable. At Moneragala Group they had a lovely bungalow on top of a hill and it was as cold as in Nuwara Eliya up there. A swimming pool, blue grass lawns, and a beautiful house with the best furniture and well stocked bar. I liked everything about them except that Mr. Berenger was a hunter and I never liked to go on trips with them.

If we went with them he had to promise that he will not shoot any animal or bird while he is with us. One day we went to the jungle and he saw a wild boar and reached for his gun, but I told him firmly “if you want to shoot at something get us some woodapples high on the tree over there”; and that is exactly what he did. They are no more with us now. A few years after we left Moneragala they met with a tragic accident and died together.

Bibile was also a very nice place. The DRO Mahaoya, Mr. Abey Danuwille, was quite friendly with us. We always went to see him when we were there. Once when we visited he had two leopard cubs. They were very small like big cats. He had them in the house and they were very tame following him all the time. But that did not last long. Next time we went there they were in chains tied outside. I sensed a change in them. They snarled at me and I got a little scared. Abey told me they didn’t like females (unlike other males) maybe because he was a bachelor and they didn’t see many women around. He couldn’t keep them for long when he started feeding them with raw meat and they became dangerous and had to be given to the Zoo.

Once we went on a very interesting trip across the Strict Natural Reserve. The two DROs, DLO. SSO and ACCD went with us. We went in two jeeps from Yala to Kumana. That was the route that the pilgrims from Panama, Pottuvil and even Jaffna used to take. They start from Kumana and come to Kotambawa a month before the festival with their cooking utensils, dry rations, etc. When we planned the trip I was in charge of the food being the only female in the group. I prepared quite a lot of ambul thiyal, roast wild boar, accharu, seeni sambol, boiled eggs and potatoes; plenty of water, soft drinks and tinned foods were also packed. In Moneragala I used to bake my own bread so I took plenty of home- baked bread. The driver said we had to take an axe because the path was not used much and we might have to cut the branches off trees. That was back in the 60’s but things may be quite different now. A tracker from Yala accompanied us.

The first animal we saw was a fox. Someone said it was lucky to see a fox at the beginning of a trip and that made us very happy. I later thought that there may be some truth in these sayings. First we crossed the Menik Ganga and as it was the dry season there was only a little water in the river and we were able to cross it without any problem. On the way we saw plenty of wild boar, deer and pea fowl. Everyone who goes to Yala sees these species. On the banks of Menik Ganga we saw the pilgrims – one man said it was the 19th day of their long march. They were all men and one was scraping coconut, the other was cooking the rice in a pot. I asked them whether they encountered any elephants or leopards; they said when they see any animals they chant a manthram. That is their only weapon and they have never been harmed. Sometimes I feel that even if I walk in the thick jungle nothing will happen to me. Nowadays we have to be careful of terrorists rather than wild animals!

The second river we crossed was the Kumbukkan Oya which had more water than the Menik Ganga. The first jeep crossed the river safely but we were in the second jeep. Just as we were about to cross the water, it stalled and then I saw the biggest, hairy-est and the most ferocious looking

wild buffalo I have seen in my life. Wild buffaloes unlike elephants have a way of looking at you as if they are about to charge at any moment. We were almost helpless then with our jeep stalled with water in the engine. In the circumstances we had nothing we could do but stay quiet in the jeep. I suggested putting the shutters up and got some cold looks from the others who seem to be saying “as if that is going to help us”. Those few moments were so full of tension and suspense perhaps without which a trip to the jungle would not be worthwhile. After sometime the animal went away. We gave him plenty of time and the two drivers got the jeep going and we resumed our journey.

There were times we had to cut the branches off the trees to make a drivable track. Suddenly we heard the sound of branches breaking and just then on to the left of us we spotted a tusker, a loner who is dangerous. He was not blocking our path so we had a good look at him and drove slowly past without disturbing him. Our next destination was the Kumana school where we planned to stay the night.

It was a small village but I saw one of the prettiest girls I can remember there. Maybe she was of mixed blood because she was very fair, with dark brown eyes. We had time for a small walk before nightfall and we went a little further to the jungle when we heard a noise. The tracker told us that it was a leopard looking for prey. They all insisted that we should return to the school specially because there is a lady in the group. I protested saying I can run as fast as any one of them.

We shared our meal of bread, seeni sambol, fish etc. with the principal and he gave us some kurakkan roti and dried venison. After the meal we sat by the fireside and he related some very interesting stories and experiences he has had while there. We were very keen to know local customs and asked about that. We were surprised to hear that for the six years he had been there, not a single death had occurred. For a sickness the medicine they take was very simple. Once a month the Apothecary came on a bike from Panama with just two medicines – a cure-all that had been very effective. I don’t know how it is now over 50 years later with the development that has occurred. But there is more sickness and more problems as life becomes more complicated. Next morning we started about 9.00 a.m.; it was a holiday for the children that day. As GA, Wimal wanted to know the needs of the school and the other officials noted the shortcomings as stated, promising to see to their needs immediately they get back to work. We left the principal saying that we will return soon.

We saw some beautiful birds in Kumana. It was a bird sanctuary and we saw so many different kinds of birds. Next we went to Okanda. There was an old devale there near the sea. Almost on the beach there was a stone boat and the priest told us a very interesting story connected with it. According to him God Skanda had come in a boat and landed there. He with his friends had gone into the jungle to explore when two thieves had come to rob the valuables in the boat. When Skanda returned he saw the two men and with his supernatural powers turned them into stone. The rock boat had two fixtures in it like men and two oars on either side. We even stepped into it.

When we were in Moneragala a little baby elephant had fallen into an abandoned gem pit in the Okkampitiya area. He was rescued by the villagers and brought to the residency. He was so lovable and when the villagers got to know that we had a baby elephant in our garden, they all came to see him. Once I saw a man picking the hair off his tail. There was a superstition that if you have a hair from a wild elephant is a ring or locket it wards off evil spirits. I strongly forbade him to do that; just imagine if everybody started to pick his tail hairs, the poor fellow would have been minus a tail at the end of it all!

Wimal contacted the zoo authorities and asked them what to feed the baby elephant on. Because he was so small we were told to give him Pelargon (a branded milk food), but unfortunately Wimal forgot to ask how to feed the milk to the little one. Someone suggested a bottle and feeding him his milk from it. Because he was getting used to me, I gave him the bottle of milk which he promptly broke into bits.

My first instinct was to put my hand into his mouth but I quickly took it away. I thought the best way was to put the milk into a bucket and feed him, and that is exactly what I did. He drank as much as he could and squirted the rest on his head with his trunk. He was so cute and it was very sad to see him go to the zoo. I shed a few tears because for the week he was there he got very attached to me. I still treasure the photographs I have taken with him.

Nilgala was another interesting place we went to. It was near Bibile. We went there with our usual crowd in a jeep. There were many medicinal trees like aralu, bulu etc. in the forest. I also saw some rare orchids growing wild on the trees. They were beautiful and undisturbed. We went to the Gal Oya stream. It was lovely, with plenty of water and flowing through thick jungle and quite a sight to see. I had got into the habit of always taking a chintz cloth with me whenever I go out and when I see the clear water I just can’t resist getting into it. Wimal and his friends were chatting over a bottle of beer and I quickly got into my diya redda and stepped into the water. I ventured boldly further downstream when I suddenly felt as though someone was watching me. Sometimes we get the instinct that we are not alone.

I looked around to see a man with long hair behind a tree looking at me. I cried out for Wimal and they all came running. They called the man and we discovered that he was living close by. He had not seen Wimal and the rest and when he saw me he thought he was seeing a spirit. We seemed to have scared each other! Later on he took us to his hut and I gave him some bottles of achcharu and seeni sambol he accepted very gratefully. In return he gave us some bees honey and dried venison.

A few days after I went to Moneragala I stopped eating meat altogether. I used to get such a lot of wild boar and venison from our friends. I did my own cooking there and when I used to cut the meat I got a dislike for it. But for the visitors who came there, I cooked and served them game meat. People who came to Moneragala always like to eat wild boar etc.

Lahugala was one place that we usually took visitors to. That is a place where you can see elephants anytime, specially at twilight. So those who came to see us, even our foreign friends, we always took to Lahugala. There is a special kind of grass elephants relish there. They come swimming across the tank in herds to feed on it. In Lahugala there is an ancient temple, the Magul Maha Vihara. I have seen many Magul Maha Viharas but this one was unique. On the outside there were hanuman (monkey) carvings unlike in others which have the bahirawa carvings. The vihara was well preserved even though the rest of the site of was in ruins.

The Maligawila Statue had fallen in the jungle with the neck of the statue broken. Buduruvagala, Yudaganawa temple were some of the historical sites I was fortunate to see during that time. There were quite a lot of ruins in that district – not too well known but ever so fascinating.

Moneragala was quite an under developed and backward area. As the wife of the GA, unlike in Jaffna and other places Wimal was stationed in, I did not have many official duties. Annually the Avuruddu festival where I had to give away the prizes and a few school prize givings were events I attended. The hospital didn’t even have the basic facility of a dentist. The villagers had to go to Badulla, a distance of about 60 – 70 miles, for a simple toot extraction. As a GA, Wimal has always done his best for the districts he served in and when he heard about it he got a dental unit installed there.

The farmers in the district did a lot of chena cultivation. There were a few schemes we used to visit to see to their water problems, loans etc. Mostly they grew gingelley (thala), groundnut, chillies, pumpkin, cucumber and kurakkan, apart from paddy. There were plenty of mangoes and papaw which we used to buy on the roadside for about five or 10 cents each. I tasted the most luscious oranges in Bibile. They were so sweet and big that we couldn’t imagine they grew in ours country.

Our stay in Moneragala was short and we had to come to Colombo when I was expecting our first child. I cherish the memories I have of Moneragala and hope one day my two sons who are doctors will serve there.

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Life style

Yoland Aluwihare – the legend and icon of the batik industry



With more than 30 years of design experience, the name Yolanda Aluwihara has always been synonymous with fashions in Sri Lanka. An icon in the batik industry, she has taken the Sri Lankan batik designs to the world by showcasing her designs on the runway on international platforms like Germany, Italy, Australia, Switzerland among others. Her main aim is to make batiks internationally recognised.

by Zanita Careem

How did you start a career on batik fashion?

Fashion has always been an important part of who I am. As I was good in art and designing I followed a course in Batik and a diploma in scientific dress making. I thereafter started doing it as a hobby.

You are known not only locally but internationally too, what is the secret behind it?

I never dreamt that my label will be a household name in Sri Lanka and in many other parts of the world. It was not an easy journey. Hard work, strong passion and team work brought the Yoland brand to the top of the competitive world in fashion. When I am with my team, it is extremely inspirational as we complement each other and create amazing designs.

What’s your favorite part of the design process?

As I have travelled to many countries with my products and worked with renowned international designers I had the opportunity to learn many techniques. We used to exchange ideas and knowledge. This helped me to incorporate different techniques. The result then is amazing. The feeling of your creation coming to life is inexplicable.

If you were to relate your personality with a specific batik technique or pattern, what would it be?

The technique that best describes my personality is the incorporation of our local tradition of batik making together with a twist which creates my signature look. The Yoland brand name is synonymous with femininity and elegance. It is a perfect harmony of traditional and innovative ideas from the west.

Where do you see batik fashions in the long run.

I am extremely delighted that finally we have a Minister who has been assigned the task of promoting and helping our industry. So I see a very bright future for our artisans. In the near future, Sri Lanka will be well known for batiks and other traditional crafts like in Indonesia.

Last but not least what’s next for Yoland collection?

In the future I would like to bring together my iconic art form with 21st century sensibility. Therefore, I intend making my silhouettes and designs on par with new innovative ideas.

Year, awards and achievements?

Awards and Certificates


1984 – Marble & Bronze Trophy for Export Performance – Barcelona Spain. 1987- American Gold Star for quality – (BID Award) (Business Initiative Directions), 1988 – Diploma Fira de Barcelona Fib ‘88- (Spain), 1988 – Certificate of participation – awarded by The Australian Department, for the Sri Lanka Trade Display at the international Trade Development Centre, Sydney, Australia. 2010 – IIFA –Only person in the apparel industry to represent Sri Lanka. 2011 – Asian Awards, China – Asian Top Fashionable Selling Brand of the Year.


1993 – Sri Lanka Apparel -best stall display certificate, 1995 – Sri Lanka Apparel Institute certificate of participation, 1997 – Sri Lanka EXPO – certificate of participation, 2000 – Silver Award – The Women’s Chamber of Industry & Commerce, Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, 2001 – SAARC Women’s Exhibition & Trade Fair – Award for best stall display, 2002 – Represented Sri Lanka at “COLOURS OF LANKA” Fashion show in Tokyo, Japan in view of 50th anniversary celebrations of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan & Sri Lanka. 2005 – Pantene Miss Sri Lanka World – Second place awarded for the design & creation of National Costume for Pantene Miss Sri Lanka World 2005 Pageant. 2006 – Sri Lanka Chamber of Small Industry in recognition of Yolanda’s achievements in the Apparel Industry, 2007 – Hair & Beauty fair – certificate for the fashion extravaganza. 2007 – Woman Entrepreneur of the year – Silver Award -2007 Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce, 2007 – Industrial Excellence Award- 2007-Bronze Award by Sri Lanka Chamber of Small & Medium Industry for bringing credit to the nation. 2008 – Industrial Excellence Award – 2008- Awarded by Sri Lanka Chamber of Small & Medium Industry for bringing credit to the nation. 2009 – Industrial Excellence Award — Bronze Award- by Sri Lanka Chamber of Small & Medium Industry for bringing credit to the Nation. 2009 – Certificate of participation presented by President Mahinda Rajapaksha & members of the Seva Vanitha Army Committee. 2010 – In Vogue Style Award 2010, 2010 – HSBC Colombo Fashion Week “Life Time Achievement Award”, 2013 – Gold Award (Large Business Category) Woman Entrepreneur of the Year-2013. Awarded by the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC), 2013 – Gold Award “Winner” Women Entrepreneur of the Year-2013 (Large category) Awarded by the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC), 2014 – 2015-Gold Category Woman Super Achiever – Awarded by Women for Governance professional and Career Women Awards – 201412015.

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Life style

Adolescents of today



by Zanita Careem

Our teenagers have a beautiful shadow to their lives. Today, they are more aware, more health conscious, and they are regulars at the gym, they are also masters of self defence and strike gold in martial arts.

They know everything about protein and carb intake and tons of eating junk food.

They grow to be fitter, thanks to media awareness. They are conscious of substance abuse. At this age reducing weight is tried just for the fun of it. They even have their own ways of spirituality! They realize that God isn’t just in a mosque or temple but also within their hearts. They connect to whatever they need to connect. Romantic relationships are more common – something every spiritual school of thought encourages. Understanding sexual relationships is a chapter that is no longer taboo. It is respected and understood by teenagers with the repercussions it may bring.

Namith Swarnasinghe and her sister Savisha Swarnasinghe from Kandy are living examples of two beautiful teenagers in modern society,

They have a relationship with their own ego and they no longer see it as a mask. Besides that, they share a loving relationship with their family and in all this they are trying to create an identity in every sphere of life and mark and space for themselves. When this generation become the citizens of tomorrow, they will be healthy in body, mind and soul. The quote by Annanis Inn says it all: ‘And the time came that the pain it took to remain in a tight bud was far greater than the pain it took to bloom!’

The two adolescents namely Namith Swarnasinghe and Savisha Swarnasinghe I met spoke about their teen years, how their lives have been shaped by their parents, their education and their life styles.

They are no different to other young people whose lives are saturated by mobile technology and social media, but they never go out of the box.Brought up in a Kandyan conservative family their teenage years were shaped by family values and social ethos.

Our parents are our role models said the tall and swanky Namith and beautiful Savisha who is an icon of beauty. A fashionista in the making Savisha is lovable and pretty and versatile.

How do you feel to be in the millennial generation?


Honestly, I think Mil

lennials are a very lucky bunch of people. We’ve got to experience so many things during our short period of existence.We mean we can remember waiting patiently while the cassette rewinds on the VHS player to watch movies. And today we have movies on demand on the palm of my hand at the click of a button. We’ve sent letters, postcards, SMS, MMS and even used telegrams faxes. So, we’ve experienced both sides of the tape so to speak and we think that’s a good thing. There are many changes going on in the world and personally we think it’s a very interesting time to be experience. 

– A time of opportunity

and risks

N&S: High risk, high reward. If you quantify the risk, it’s always correlated with competition. So competition is very high, be it from existing players or newcomers. This is a perfect situation as far as we’ve concerned. The higher the stakes the more motivated we are to improve our business and to make sure we carry forward our 70 years of history.

Are u both move buffs who is your favourite icon in cinema



Oh yes! we both are a big fan of Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan. I think Scorsese is a very clean story teller while Nolan has this mesmerizing ability to push the limits of what is and is not possible in film. They’re both artists of the highest order as far as I’m concerned.

– Do you both feel anxiety and depression at any time


Karl Marx predicted this long ago. Alienation is unfortunately an inevitable by-product of capitalism, and we are living in the most capitalist time of human history. Also its no longer taboo to say you’re suffering from anxiety or depression. There’s lot of research that has gone into mental health that has proven how harmful it can be if left untreated or neglected. So while we’ve been lucky enough not to through depression, we’ve handled our fair share of anxiety well.

– How do spent your

leisure hours



We’ve got several hobbies that keep us busy whenever we have some free time. I love to cook, it’s always been a passion of mine. I also spend time playing my guitar, watching movies and sports.

Are you into serious reading

N& S

. I’m deep down reading Polemicist Rabbit Hole these days. I love reading Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens and these days I’m reading Jordan Peterson’s books. I like people that question and provide cohesive arguments against the status quo.

The best movies you both enjoy


The Dark Knight Arrival

The Terminal

You Dietary plans, are you both conscious of a particular dress code and do you both passionate about specific brands?


– Our diet has always been kind of top priority at home with a little indulgence in our guilty pleasures once in a while. But we have pushed ourself to be more serious about it lately, with my big day approaching. Well, our dress code defines who you are, and yes, quite conscious of it. I love branded stuff; you could say I am obsessed with it.


Your schooling in Kandy

We both schooled in Kandy, I went to Hillwood College and my brother went to Trinity. For my higher studies I obtained my degree from the Excelsior University in Albany and my brother pursued his higher studies at the University of London and later at the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting.

Your international exposure in Malaysia


It has been a very interesting experience for me so far. The ability to live in a completely foreign country made me to be independent and broaden my knowledge.Meeting people from different cultures was a benchmark in my career

Your vision for the future?


My vision is to see Sri Lankans designers,artisans, jewellers, designers are well known. Our designs are universally accepted and we hailed from a business family. Our gem industry and gem business are part of our life. We had business in our blood so it was natural for us to follow our father’s footsteps and carry the business forward.

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