Plus - People and events

Saluting heroes of our day-to-day lives

18th National Civilian Bravery Awards Ceremony
By Dhananjani Silva

Remember the lorry driver Sampath Janaka Jayantha Silva who risked his life to save a four-year-old who was thrown into the Kalu Ganga near the Kalutara bridge in March last year? Jayantha was driving his lorry on his way back home from work when he noticed a commotion near the bridge and what he saw was a child floating in the river.

Budal Na Gold Award winner Sampath Janaka Jayantha Silva

He did not know how to swim yet he had no second thoughts about getting into the river. Wading in, he managed to bring the child to the shore. A few days later, while receiving treatment at the hospital, the child who was in critical condition passed away yet Jayantha’s heroic act is still remembered.

Sampath Jayantha was the recipient of this year’s Budal Na Gold Award conferred for the greatest act of bravery at the 18th National Civilian Bravery Awards 2011.

The Civilian Bravery Awards are given in recognition of individuals for their bravery in saving the lives of others. The Foundation of Civilian Bravery initiated on January 13 1993 by Kasun P. Chandraratne commenced its work by acknowledging the heroic act of a ferryman in Ukwatta Kalutara who died while trying to save a few passengers. In the past 18 years, the foundation has awarded 300 persons with prestigious bravery awards. As Mr. Chandraratne outlined in his speech, the objective of the awards presentation is to promote respect for the right to life and to reward nationally and internationally the voluntary acts of civilians who have risked their lives in saving others.

“We live in an island that is of outstanding beauty surrounded by water; yet a country is not identified by its physical features but by the merits of people living in that country,” he said, adding that despite the 30-year long civil war which segregated the society by race, religion, language etc, the touch of humanity was seen in many instances with individuals of various religions and races helping each other in their time of need.

Ven. Modarawane Amilasiri Thera with his award. Pix by Mangala Weerasekera

Elaborating about the Budal Na Gold Award, he said it is named after Lord Budal Na who was an administrative officer of Ruhuna under King Vijayabahu the Great, who protected the king from his enemies when he was a prince. Later Budal Na was felicitated by the King in the Royal Court as an act of gratitude.

The foundation also felicitated those who had performed various selfless acts presenting them with Silver Medals and Certificates of Merit for Civilian Bravery and Inscription of Gold for clergy. The award winners are selected by a panel of judges after interviews following nominations.

Asarappulige Damayanthi was awarded a merit certificate for her attempts to save her sister who fell into a canal in Puwakwatte on November 29 last year while a joint certificate of merit was awarded to Vidura Ruwan Gunratne and Rasanga Lakshitha Nimalaratne from Galle for bringing to safety two 13-year-old boys who were struggling in the water after they jumped into the sea to have a dip near the harbour jetty.

An award of a different type which is considered an inscription on gold was presented to Ven. Modarawane Amilasiri Thera who has devoted his life to taking care of the aged and ailing Buddhist monks. Currently there are about 40 such old monks at the hospice put up by him.

Promod Pathum Senarathna received a silver medal at the ceremony for his brave attempt to save the life of a playmate who fell into a deep water tank on September 11, 2010. However, instead of Pathum, it was his uncle who came on stage to accept the award. Pathum lost his life in his attempt to save his mate on that day.

Indra Aththanayake was also presented with a Silver medal for saving her 10-year-old nephew who fell into a deep well while playing in the garden in August last year. Despite the neighbours’ warnings of the danger of getting into the well, Indra climbed down the water pipe on the side of the well, losing her grip and falling into the well. But she kept the child on her lap until neighbours got both of them out. Indra fractured her leg in this rescue operation and she is yet to recover from the injuries.

The Civilian Bravery Nur Aleem Appreciation Award was won by Inoka Samarawickrama for her contribution to media in reporting on events of civilian bravery. The awards ceremony was held at BMICH with Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne as the chief guest while Minister of Education Bandula Gunawardene and Senior Minister Food and Nutrition P. Dayaratne were also present to give away the awards.

An invitation to "recreate" ancient Anuradapura

Over the last few years, computer techniques have been developed to digitally recreate on the Internet ancient cities. For example, parts of ancient Rome and Greece have been recreated and can be today explored by anybody on the Internet. Over the last one year, the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, RASSL by bringing together experts from Sri Lanka, the USA, Canada and Australia have attempted to digitally recreate ancient Anuradhapura.

In its first exercise, it has recreated the ancient Jetavanaramaya complex from existing ruins and descriptions in literature. This digitally recreated Jetavanaramaya can be seen today by accessing the Royal Asiatic Society Sri Lanka website ( The basic techniques have been mastered, and as has been the case in construction of other ancient cities, the RASSL is now calling for volunteers with access to the Internet to collaborate with them to recreate all the Anuradhapura and Polonaruwa sites so that from home a person could see and explore ancient Anuradhapura.

The Royal Asiatic Society is requesting those interested in helping recreate our ancient sites to email

Pirith ceremony at the Sri Lankan embassy in Norway

Sri Lankans in Norway participated at a pirith ceremony organized by the ambassador of Sri Lanka in Norway to commemorate the 2600th Sambuddhatwa Jayanthi. Chief priest of the recently-opened Buddhist Vihara in Oslo, Ven. Marathugoda Maniratana Thera conducted the pirith ceremony at the embassy premises.

Ambassador Rodney Perera said the pirith ceremony was a blessing to all war heroes and the government for bringing peace to the war-torn nation.

A unique global opportunity at Peradeniya University

A new Master of Development Practice (MDP) degree is to be launched by the University of Peradeniya in August. This is an internationally recognized two-year, graduate level professional degree programme, designed to equip development professionals to confront complex development challenges.

The University of Peradeniya was one of 14 universities selected worldwide to receive seed funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to develop a new innovative postgraduate programme in development practice.

It is the only University in Sri Lanka and one of five universities in all of Asia to receive such funding and be accepted as one of 23 member universities in the global MDP network.

Within the network, students and lecturers in participating universities have the opportunity to interact with each other and share learning resources in settings like the web-based global classroom course. Universities within the network may also develop arrangements for student exchanges for coursework and internships.

The global MDP programme is the first Master's Degree of this kind to integrate the four pillars of sustainable development-Health Sciences, Natural Sciences and Engineering, Social Sciences, and Management. Applications close on July 31.

For more information, please contact the MDP Administrator, Department of Economic and Statistics, Faculty of arts, University of Peradeniya. Phone: +94-81-2392825; +94-81-2392622; email: website:

Royal College takes on Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies, the Nobel Prize winning novel of William Golding, explores the dark side of humanity. Golding intended this novel as a tragic parody of children's adventure tales, illustrating humankind's intrinsic evil nature through following the series of events that unfolds as a group of young boys attempt to survive in an uncivilized, unsupervised and isolated environment.

To be performed for the first time in Sri Lanka, the English Drama Society of Royal College brings to the stage the adaptation of this well known story. Sajith Amendra, a past thespian of Royal College, of ‘Othello’, ‘Well Mudaliyar’ and ‘An Enemy of the People’ fame, directs the cast of 11 young actors.
Lord of the Flies will be on June 17, 18 and 19 at the Namel Malini Punchi Theatre from 7.30 p.m onwards. Tickets will be available at the venue.

Talk on Lanka’s World heritage site

A talk on 'Central Highlands of Sri Lanka: Newly inscribed World Heritage Site' by Leslie Wijesinghe, formerly of the Forest Department; Additional Director General NARESA (now NSF) and Country Representative of IUCN will be held on Friday, June 17 at 5 p.m. at the SLAAS auditorium.

The talk is sponsored by the Committee for the Popularization of Science, SLAAS and Ruk Rakaganno (TheTree Society of Sri Lanka). The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, comprising the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, the Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Conservation Forest were inscribed as a Natural World Heritage by UNESCO in July 2010. Mr. Wijesinghe who wrote the nomination document will speak on these forests and why they have been declared a serial World Heritage.

Book on travels to Japan

Saman Athaudahetti recently launched a book of his articles based on his frequent travels to Japan titled "Wandering with Pleasure along Hanamichi'.

The book launch was held at the Lankaji Temple auditorium at Sawara-Katori, Japan and was attended by a distinguished group of invitees. The guest speaker at the function was Professor Dammika Ganganath Dissanayaka of the Sri Jayewardenepura University who is also a visiting lecturer at the Rikyo University in Japan.

Asiri Hospital introduces the Rotational Thromboelastometry machine

The Asiri Surgical Hospital (ASH), has introduced the first ever Rotational Thromboelastometry (ROTEM®) machine to Sri Lanka. Rotational Thromboelastometry is commonly used for the diagnosis and treatment and follow up of patients suffering from illnesses that cause bleeding and thrombosis.
At the introduction to this machine, was one of India's foremost authorities on thromboelatometry, Prof. Sukesh Nair who delivered a presentation on the diagnosis, the use, control and treatments, to the team of doctors and nurses of the Asiri Hospital.

As the Head and Professor of the Department of Transfusion Medicine and Immunohaematology in the world renowned Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore, Prof. Nair has been one of the pioneers in research and treatment for patients suffering from blood related diseases and in the field of coagulation and is presently focused on the development of a good global haemostatic test closer to physiology.

Speaking at the lecture, Prof. Nair said, "This is one of the few clinically proven machines that is known to simplify and accelerate the management of acute bleeding situations. It can analyse whole blood samples within ten minutes, allowing doctors and hospital staff to monitor and control targeted coagulation therapies in double quick time."

Dr. K.K.D.G. Jayaweera, Consultant Transfusiologist and Head of the Department of Transfusion Medicine at ASH said, "The ROTEM® device aims to become the leading point-of-care diagnostic solution for acute bleeding management where minutes count to stop the bleeding and in saving lives. This technology will provide a differential diagnosis for acute bleeding management helping clinicians and laboratory technicians to select and monitor targeted therapies."

India’s Capt. Subramaniam chief guest at celebrations of Master Mariners

Indian maritime professional Captain H. Subramaniam from Mumbai will be the chief guest at the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Company of Master Mariners of Sri Lanka on June 18 at the Galadari Hotel, following the AGM.

Capt. Subramaniam is presently the Chief Examiner of Extra Masters in India and Marine Examinations Consultant for the Marshall Islands Ships Registry. While in Sri Lanka, he will visit the CINEC Maritime Campus and the Lanka Academy of Technological Studies.

The Company of Master Mariners of Sri Lanka is a professional organization comprising Class 1 Master Mariners or Ships Captains (of foreign-going ships as generally known). The incumbent President is Capt. Nimal Perera.

The CMM is a member of the Organization of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka (OPA).

Bathiya and Santhush in Concert

The Old Girls' Association of Visakha Vidyalaya will present an evening of entertainment for the entire family with the ever popular duo Bathiya & Santhush supported by Ashanthi, Randhir & Umariya.
A much awaited item would be the guest performance by the versatile Dushyanth Weeraman.
"Bathiya & Santhush in Concert" will be on Saturday, July 9 at the Jeremias Dias Hall, Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo 5, from 7 p.m onwards.

A fund raiser by the Visakha Vidyalaya OGA, the proceeds will be channelled towards the renovation of the Jeremias Dias Hall. Tickets are available at the Visakha Vidyalaya OGA Office at the school from June 13 and one week prior to the concert at the gate. For more information please contact Anusha Malwatta on 0773634459.

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