People and events

A new milky white Stupa in Tangalle

Gautama Vidyalaya Pirivena in Tangalle was established on December 15, 1925 and now, 90 years later a beautiful new stupa has been unveiled thanks to the efforts of the families concerned.
It was Don Mathes Daluwatta, a much respected gentleman from Tangalle, a landed proprietor decorated by the British government who donated the land for the temple to the Sasana. The management of the temple and Pirivena was handed over to the Sri Dharmaraksha Society founded by him.

The temple is located near the 123rd mile post in Tangalle, bordering the main Matara- Tissa Road in West Giruwa Pattu within Hambantota District. The affairs of the pirivena were in the hands of the great monk Ven. Rajakeeya Panditha Vinayadara Asaranasarana Sri Sidhartha Poojyapada Welipatanwila Sri Deepankara Anunahimi. He lost no time in re-awakening the Buddhists of the district and working to restore a national identity, spreading the Dharma. In 1927 he was invited to the Royal Court of the King of Cambodia. To commemorate this event, the king offered a sapling of the Bo tree from the Royal Gardens to the people of Sri Lanka.

The pirivena prospered with assistance from the public of Tangalle and the generous contributions of the wife of Mr. Daluwatta, Ratran Pramadige Nonnohamy. With her death in 1933, his daughter, Pancy Nandawathie Daluwatta and son-in-law Peiris Ediriweera Jayasekera J.P. took over as the President of the Dharmaraksha society to develop the temple.

With the passing away of Ven. Panditha Deepankara Thera, the scholarly monk Sahithya Chakrawarthi Ven. Rakawa Palitha Thera became the chief incumbent.

In 1958, Mrs. P.N. Daluwatta constructed a ‘Buduge’ adjacent to the Bo maluwa, in memory of her parents donating a belfry at the entrance. P.E. Jayasekera with the assistance of the public, constructed a weaving centre for the benefit of the unemployed youth of the area. This was however later converted to a residence for the novice monks.

After the death of Ven. Seevali, and the early pioneering efforts of the Daluwatta Jayasekera family, the activities of the Pirivena temple were handed down to Ven. Sasthravedi Tangalle Gutma Thera. He had a broad vision to develop the temple. Identifying the key figures in the village and the succeeding generations of the Daluwatta-Jayasekera families, he urged them to undertake the construction of the chaitya on a proposal made by the all island Ariyamitta Sansandanaya.

What started as an initial interest shown by a few Dayaka Dayikawos of Tangalle to construct the proposed chaitya, it was left to the second, third generations of the Daluwatta- Jayasekera families with unstinted support of devotees and well wishers to further this effort.

The untiring efforts of the devotees and the president of the society Palitha Jayasekera has resulted in the magnificent, milky white Dagoba, 66 feet in circumference and 35 feet in height rising towards the heavens in reverence to Lord Buddha. With the completion of this chaitya a long outstanding need has now been fulfilled for Buddhist to pay homage to the stupa, Bo-tree and buduge in correct order.

Book on women Docs

Prof. Manouri Senanayake's new book 'Women in Paediatrics- Eight Portraits' just released looks at the lives of eight empathic healers around the mid-20th century who contributed vastly to the field of paediatrics in this country.

The eight doctors she has profiled are - Grace Barr Kumarakulasinghe, Stella de Silva, Priyani Soysa, Rajeswary Rajakariar, Philine Pieris, Nellie Patricia Fernando, Jasmine Nanayakkara and Kamalika Abeyratne. The author writes 'The reader will be provided a snapshot view of each of these great personalities and through them glean the mood of an era of great social change…It was a time when women in Asia were breaking down long held attitudes and social traditions with regard to their roles and capabilities in science, medicine and employment."

The author in her own inimitable style presents their inspiring stories, chronicling their achievements while also touching on their very individual personalities. The book priced at Rs. 750 is available at Vijitha Yapa, Makeens and Sarasavi bookshop.

SLWAB cuts across all boundaries to help build Sri Lanka

By Megara Tegal

Even though they are a team of just seven, the Sri Lankan Women’s Association of Belgium (SLWAB) has been heavily involved in aiding Sri Lanka over the past two decades. Established in April 1990, the association comprises women who have roots in Sri Lanka and cuts across all the major religions and races of Sri Lanka.

Shamani Meera

SLWAB secretary Meera Pathmarajah-Laurijssen says that mixture of religious and ethnic backgrounds helps to ensure that no segment of the Sri Lankan population is left out in their charitable efforts. While her parents are from Sri Lanka, Meera was born in Burma and currently resides in Belgium. She only lived in the island for a short span of three years, but maintains a strong tie with Sri Lanka and insists that this is her motherland. “If anyone asks me, I always say I’m Sri Lankan and never Belgian,” she says.

While this is Meera’s first visit to Sri Lanka in 17 years, SLWAB president Sharmini Christie-David has made frequent visits to the island since she migrated to Belgium 31 years ago. Sharmini’s visits became much more regular once she became a member of SLWAB as she would fly down to check on the progress of the projects funded by the association.

Sharmini explains that most of their projects have been linked with the Sri Lanka Girl Guide Association, while a few other projects have been channelled through the Rotary, Inner Wheel and other such organisations. “It’s always good to have someone at ground level who can keep close track of the on-going projects,” says Meera adding “the Girl Guide Association does that and they make sure all the funds go into the projects.”

Some of the projects that SLWAB and the Sri Lanka Girl Guide Association (SLGGA) have carried out include the Nana Piyasa Project- an initiative to build libraries in schools affected by the tsunami as well as the Test Project by which children affected by the tsunami receive funds till they reach the age of 18 and then use the funds to further their education in academic or technical streams.

As soon as Sharmini and Meera landed in Sri Lanka on November 24 they travelled to Jaffna to see a library completed under the Nana Piyasa Project carried out at a school in Kudathanai, Jaffna. “The school has 246 students and we chose this school in particular because they conduct classes till A/Ls,” says Sharmini. “When we went there we could see children using the library.

“They were studying for their term test and it was an emotional moment for us. We’ve been funding the construction of the library, – the building, furnishing, providing electricity, computers and books, but that’s from a distance. To come here and see it all come together and be used, made it all worthwhile.”

They ran for the Cancer cause

Independence Square is a popular spot for those who run for exercise. They run for fitness sake – in other words for their own lives- but the volunteers who lined up last Sunday morning at the Independence Square ran for a cause. Titled “Run for Their Lives”, this charity run was organized to raise funds to help patients of the Maharagama Cancer Hospital who suffer from shortages of some essential life-saving drugs.

“Most of us have lost close friends or relatives to cancer. Coming to know about the suffering of cancer patients at Maharagama Hospital due to the shortage of drugs, our club decided to arrange this event to raise funds,” said Stephanie Fernando, Chairperson of the Rotaract Club of Colombo Uptown who organized the Cancer Run.

Cancer is on the increase. Statistics show there have been 20,000 new cases of cancer reported this year. Among them, 11,000 are from the Maharagama Cancer Institute also known as the National Cancer Institute. With this large number of patients, the hospital is overcrowded. The government provides free medicine; however due to large numbers being treated, these drugs are over soon and it takes time to re-order, given the government tender processes etc. Hence there are often shortages. Moreover, cancer drugs are very expensive. For example, 100mg of a drug called Irrinotican costs about Rs. 10,800 which is not affordable in the long run for an average patient.

Hassan Ismail, the organizer of the event for the club stressed that there have been many ‘walks’ organized to raise awareness for many issues, but ‘charity runs’ are not frequent. “That is why our Rotaract club decided to arrange this run to raise funds through active participation,” Hassan said. The club hopes to make it an annual event.

Volunteers from different walks of life - diplomats, doctors, professionals and students joined the run. “I came to know about the event through an email and decided to support the worthy cause straight away,” Leoni Cuelenaere, Ambassador of the Netherlands commented. British Deputy High Commissioner Mark Gooding, Norwegian Deputy High Commissioner Jon Brodholt were also among the dignitaries who joined the 5 km run with Mr. Brodholt coming in first.

Among the other participants at the run was ‘Tiffy’ - a Golden Labrador. Dr. Ranjith Balawardane who had treated thousands of cancer patients also joined the run. A senior Oncologist at Maharagama Cancer Hospital he also highlighted that drugs are the dire need of the hospital and urged the public to support the patients by donating drugs to the hospital.

This is the festive season and the time of giving to others. To help, please call the Donation Management Unit of Maharagama Cancer Hospital on 011-2897318 or email

Carol Service by the Choir of St. Michael and All Angels, Polwatte

The Carol Service by the Choir of St. Michael and All Angels, Polwatte, Colombo 3 will be held in the church, in keeping with tradition, on Christmas Eve, Friday, December 24 at 6 p.m. The service will commence with the singing of the processional hymn "Once in Royal David's City".

The readings are from the Bible, with Christmas poems and readings from David Kossof's "Book of Witnesses". The concluding lesson will be from St. John's Gospel, unfolding the great mystery of the incarnation.

The Choir will sing Traditional Christmas Carols arranged by Sir David Willcocks among others. The service will be interspersed with popular carols for choir and congregation. The service will conclude with the recessional hymn "O Come all ye faithful", the blessing of the crib and the offering of gifts by the children.

The choir is under the direction of Dr. Lalith Perera with Denham Pereira at the Organ. All are welcome.

Christian unity, prayer and carols

The Community of the Holy Trinity of the Catholic Renewal Movement will conduct a Christian Unity Prayer and Carol Service today, December 19 from 3.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. at the Community Centre, No: 19 De Alwis Place, Dehiwela. Pastors and lay people from different Christian denominations and the Catholic Church will give short messages on the theme of Christian Unity for Christmas.

The choir of the Federation for the Visually Handicapped will also take part in this service which will end with fellowship. All are welcome

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