An Essential Coupling: For A Bilingual National Anthem on 4th February

It appears that there are pressures in motion[1] to return to the old Rajapaksa programme of rendering the National Anthem on Independence Day in Sinhala Only. As Eranda Ginige has contended, this would be a retrograde step. Towards our comprehension of the issues, I present a preliminary and incomplete bibliography of pertinent items — including the work of Kushil Gunasekera and his Foundation of Goodness in fostering the Murali Cup; the endeavours of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene; and Sasanka Perera’s slashing criticism of the parochial responses to Kishani Jaysinghe’s operatic rendering of “Danno Budunge.”

Hardline Chauvinist Opposition

Senaka Weeraratne: “A Rejection of Reconciliation via Namo/Namo: Weeraratna’s Hardline Sinhala Majoritarian Statement,”    29 January 2017, ……………………… ……  ….. /

Key Essays from the Pen of Michael Roberts …. in order of presentation

  • “Some Pillars for Lanka’s Future,” Frontline, 24/12, 6-19 June 2009, pp. 24-27…. Rep. in Asaga Welikala (ed.) Reforming Sri Lankan Presidentialism, Colombo, 2015, CPA,    22, pp 808-15.
  • “Intolerance: Hues and Issues,” Nethra Review, 11/2, December 2010, 20-21.

Pertinent Sidelights

Sasanka Perera: “Danno Budunge: “Goodness Gracious Me!” 15 February 2016,

Adjunct Essays from the Pen of Michael Roberts …. in order of presentation

“Stimulants and Ingredients in the Awakening of Latter-Day Nationalisms,” in Collective Identities, Nationalisms and Protest in Modern Sri Lanka, Colombo: Marga Publications, 1979, pp. 214-42.

“Problems of Collective Identity in a Multi-Ethnic Society: Sectional Nationalism vs Ceylonese Nationalism, 1900-1940,” in Collective Identities, Nationalisms and Protest in Modern Sri Lanka, Colombo: Marga Publications, 1979, pp. 337-60.

The 1956 Generations: After and Before, G.C. Mendis Memorial Lecture for 1981, Colombo, Evangel Press, 1981a

“Ethnicity in Riposte at a Cricket Match: The Past for the Present”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 1985, 27: 401-429.

“Nationalism, the Past and the Present: the Case of Sri Lanka,” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 1993a     16: 133-161.

“Beyond Anderson: Reconstructing and Deconstructing Sinhala Nationalist Discourse”, Modern Asian Studies, 1996a  30: 690-98. [reprinted in Confrontations, 2009].

“Teaching Lessons and Removing Evil: Strands of Moral Puritanism in Sinhala Nationalist Practice,” Felicitation Volume for Professor S. Arasaratnam, edited by Michael Pearson, as  South Asia, sp.issue, Sept. 1996, pp. 205-20.

“Sinhala-ness and Sinhala Nationalism,” in G. Gunatilleke et al (eds.): A History of Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka: Recollection, Reinterpretation and Reconciliation, Colombo: 2001 Marga Monograph Series, No 4.

“The burden of history: obstacles to power sharing in Sri Lanka”, Contributions to Indian Sociology, n. s., May 2001, 35: 65-96.

“Ethnicity after Edward Said: Post-Orientalist failures in comprehending the Kandyan period ofLankan history,” Ethnic Studies Report 2001, 19: 69-98. [reprinted in Confrontations, 2009].

Dakunen sädi kotiyo, uturen golu muhudai,” [The fierce/vile Tamils to the south, the turbulent/unfathomable sea to the north] Pravāda 2001. 6: 17-18.

“Primordialist strands in contemporary Sinhala nationalism in Sri Lanka: urumaya as Ur,” Colombo: Marga Monograph Series on A History of Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka: Recollection, Reinterpretation and Reconciliation, Colombo: Marga Monograph Series, 2002 No 20.

“Saivite Symbolism, Sacrifice and Tamil Tiger Rites”, Social Analysis 2005 49: 67-93.

“Pragmatic Action & Enchanted Worlds: A Black Tiger Rite of Commemoration,” Social  Analysis 2006 50: 73-102.

“The Tamil Movement for Eelam,” E-Bulletin of the International Sociological Association 2006 No. 4, July 2006, pp. 12-24 [reprinted in Fire and Storm. Essays in Sri Lankan Politics, 2010, pp. 203-18].

“Understanding Zealotry and Questions for Post-Orientalism, I,” Lines May-August 2006,vol.5, 1 & 2, in

“Tamil Tigers: Sacrificial Symbolism and ‘Dead Body Politics’,” Anthropology Today, June 2008,24/3: 22-23.

“Intolerance: Hues and Issues,” Nethra Review, 11/2, December 2010, pp. 20-21.

“Mahinda Rajapaksa: Cakravarti Imagery and Populist Processes,” 28 January 2012, http://,reprinted in Asanga Welikala (ed.) Republic at Forty,

Ideological Cancers within the Sinhala Universe: Roadblocks in the Path of Reconciliation,” Groundviews, 10 May 2014,



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[1] Located as I am in Adelaide and struggling to sustain two webs ites on my own in the midst of home duties and a vibrant cricket and tennis watching seasons, I am not able to keep track of Sri Lanka’s newsprint sources, So I hope helpful hands will send me web references and news items copied in Word File format for my  store of information on this set of issues.


Filed under accountability, centre-periphery relations, charitable outreach, chauvinism, communal relations, cultural transmission, heritage, historical interpretation, legal issues, life stories, performance, politIcal discourse, religiosity, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, world events & processes

3 responses to “An Essential Coupling: For A Bilingual National Anthem on 4th February

  1. Janaka Perera

    My comment is in the form of questions.
    In how many languages is India’s National Anthem sung at her Independence Day celebrations in New Delhi (Union Territory of Delhi)?. The anthem Jana Gana Mana was originally composed as Bharoto Bhagya Bidhata in Bengali and still sung in Bengali but heavily Sanskritised.

    In how many countries (having more than one ethnic community) is their national anthem sung in more than one language in the Capital? Is that number more or less than the number of countries which have their national sung in one language?
    Did Sri Lanka have any big problems from 1948 to 2015 when our National Anthem was sung only in one language? What great reconciliation was achieved when after having it sung in Tamil too?


    Singing the national anthem in two languages is a symbolic gesture – a meaningful one that can have some strands of useful reverberation without necessarily transforming the political situation like a magic wand. Just visit any of the You Tube videos displaying New Zealand or South African rugby matches and listen/see the anthems being sung in two and three languages respectively ….. and watch the local people in the stands singing.
    That noted, let me state firmly that your last two sentences are meaningless hogwash. For ONE: the economic and political problems generated between 1948 and the present times have multiplex causes –both socio-political and economic (with the latter subject to the international scenario). The Sinhala Only policy adopted in 1956 – in part because of the thrusts of the underprivileged lower middle classes – was definitely a major factor in generating the Tamil communalist challenges that eventually brought the LTTE to power.
    IF you can disprove this brief note, pl compose an essay with documentation. COMMENTS boxes cannot cope with the issues you raise.

  3. Pingback: For the Singing of the National Anthem in Sinhala Only: Two Adamant Voices | Thuppahi's Blog

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