Category Archives: cultural transmission

Encountering Prejudice in Lanka as a Person of Mixed Descent

Krystle Reid, from Groundviews,  where the title is “A Welcoming Nation”

The following is a list of things I’m often asked or told, revealing of Sri Lankan perceptions about the Burgher community.

  1. Are you Sri Lankan?
  2. Can you speak in Sinhalese?
  3. ‘You’re a Burgher? You sure don’t look like one’
  4. ‘Sounds like a Las Vegas stripper name’
  5. ‘They get drunk every Saturday and go to church the next day, no shame’
  6. ‘Burghers? Parents must be divorced then.’
  7. ‘Lansi no? Probably got the job because of her English and the mini skirt’
  8. ‘Burgher…. like a hamburger?’

I could continue but the real point I was trying to make is that 70 years after independence, our ethnicity is still misunderstood. Continue reading

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Neville Weereratne: the Artist and his Distant Homeland

Tony Donaldson

This essay on the life and art of Neville Weereratne is based on interviews recorded in Melbourne in July 2014 and from material collected during fieldwork in Australia and Sri Lanka.

 Neville Weereratne.

The artist and author Neville Weereratne died in Melbourne on 3 January 2018 at the age of 86. He was born in Colombo on 3 December 1931. A Sinhalese by descent and the youngest of five siblings, he began drawing at about the age of six. He grew up in a Roman Catholic family in Hulftsdorp, near to the Supreme and Magistrate courts, but their home was requisitioned by the civil authorities in World War 2 and so the family moved into a house in Dehiwela owned by the Peries family (Ivan and Lester).

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Different Worlds: Upali Mahaliyana’s Novel

Upali Mahaliyana’s Introductory Note

This is NOT my autobiography.  Although Ajith, the main Character in this novel, shares the times and a part of his background with me, he is a completely different person who had a very different character and a life to mine.  His family has absolutely no resemblance to mine.

This is NOT a biographical novel either.  Although Ajith binds the story together, it is not just his story.

Instead, it is a story of changing lifestyles, values and attitudes of Sri Lankan society over different times and different environments, demonstrated through five generations of the same family.  It covers an era from the early part of the twentieth century to the present times and a geographical area from a rural village in Sri Lanka, through a provincial city and the capital city into the Sri Lankan diaspora in the world.

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D H Lawrence in Kandy 1922

Jane Russell

D H Lawrence came to Ceylon with his wife Frieda in late February 1922. Lawrence once referred to the later years of his life, spent wandering from place to place across the world in search of relief from illness, as his “savage pilgrimage”.  Interestingly, the Lawrences arrived just a couple of years after Hilda Westbrook (soon to be Kularatne) first passed through the Colombo Harbour steamboat passenger terminal.

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Eternal Tigers. Tamil Demonstration in London on Symbolic Day

க்கிட்டான்டா சிங்களவன் | Sri lanka Independence Day | Tamilar Black Day


Brigadier Priyanka Fernando’s first gesture — preceding the throat cutting signal [SO it is said … below]

Sujeeva Nivunhella in London reporting in Sunday Island, 11 February 2018, under title “Brig. Fernando says his action meant to portray ‘LTTE leader was dead’ ,”

In the backdrop of pro-LTTE activists demanding the expulsion of Brig. Priyanka Fernando, Sri Lanka’s Minister Counsellor in London, the veteran army officer defended his action saying it was meant to portray that the LTTE leader was dead, when demonstrators continued to shout “our leader is Prabakaran”.Brigadier Fernando is accused of making a “throat slitting gesture” when pro-LTTE Tamil demonstrators protested during Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence Day celebrations at the High Commission in London. He was promptly recalled by the Foreign Ministry, but the order was later revoked by the President.
He said that he showed the Lion Flag on his uniform to indicate he is ready to give his life for his motherland. “I made the ‘throat sign’ for the second time to convey the message that everything was now over”.

LTTE sympathizers continue to lobby for the expulsion of the Defence Attache, but the move has seen Sri Lankans domiciled in London and other parts of Europe rallying in support of the military officer.

Meanwhile, two members of the Global Sri Lanka Forum who were waving Lion flags to counter Friday’s protest by LTTE activists, were hospitalized after they came under attack.

Questions have been raised by concerned Sinhala groups on how LTTE supporters were permitted to wave Tamil Eelam flags and display a big cut-out of Prabakaran during the protest when the LTTE remains a proscribed terrorist group in the UK.

The British government turned a blind eye to this brazen violation of the law, they pointed out, while querying whether Britain would allow Al-Qaeda or ISIS sympathizers to protest carrying their terror outfit’s flags and cut-outs of their leaders.

With UK-Sri Lanka relations on an upward trajectory over the past three years, political observers believe the pro-LTTE diaspora is trying to capitalize on the Feb. 4 incident to jeopardize the close rapport between the two countries by calling for the expulsion of Sri Lanka’s Defence Attache.

One observer noted that with the dawn of peace, Tamils can now live anywhere in Sri Lanka. As a result, many Tamils who applied for political asylum are no longer granted visas to remain in the UK.

“That’s why they are trying desperately to cash in on any incident to push their asylum applications to stay in the UK”, he said.

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Dance, Song, Word and Dress: Melburnian Lankans Celebrate 70th YEAR of Independence

Tony Donaldson, whose preferred title is “A Time of Celebration and Reflection. Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence Day in Melbourne”

Many Sri Lankans have made the journey to Australia and now call it home and Melbourne continues to be a popular destination with the number of Sri Lankans living in this multicultural city estimated to be approximately 35,000. It is a diverse community and so it was pleasing to see that the emphasis of Sri Lanka’s 70th National Independence Day celebrations held on 4 February 2018 in the Kingston City Hall, Moorabbin, was placed on recognizing the plurality of Sri Lanka as a nation of many ethnic and religious groups. Organized by the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Melbourne, the celebrations were like a gift of treasures but it was also a time to reflect on the postcolonial history of Sri Lanka and its future.

Kandyan dance performed by the Sri Lankan Cultural Ensemble of Australia

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Colombo’s Wetlands: IWMI”s Concerns and Explorations

Darshanie Ratnawalli, in Sunday Island, 4 February 2018, where the title runs “Understanding Colombo’s wetlands with IWMI


According to historians the very position of Kotte in the middle of a marsh attests to peril. It was to arrest peril emanating from the North that a city was built in the middle of a marsh. For what except the most dire necessity would induce anyone to locate a capital city in a marsh? Given any other choice what self-respecting feudal overlord would opt for a marsh as a location of a capital? Continue reading

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