Sri Lanka belongs to Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims

by S. Thambyrajah

(November 11, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Tamils and Sinhalese, Hindus and Buddhists believe in Karma and Rebirth. Sri Lanka is a transit station in our journey ‘Life’s wandering’ - ‘Sansara’. Did we have a choice in coming here? - No! Do we have a choice to where we will go from here? - No! Sri Lanka belongs to none and none belongs to Sri Lanka. It belongs to nature. From the vast experience of the past, some of which has been very bitter to me and my own relations, but very valuable, communal and racial statements of intolerance of different religious faiths, have been the prime cause of adding fuel to the fires of destruction that have been started after Independence. Elders and Senior citizens owe it to the coming generations to stand up and protest. That much we owe this country which has given us terra firma over a long period of time. With regret, I reproduce a letter to the editor written by me, 10 years ago.

A news item appeared during the time of the State Council (1936), when we were happy - go-lucky Ceylonese (I have a photocopy. The original is with my good friend Stanley Jayatunga, nonagenarian, living in Malabe). It was based on a speech made by the then Member for the Matale electorate in the State Council, .B. H. Aluwihare, a barrister, actively involved in the Independence movement along with Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. He could have been identified anywhere as he sported a Gandhi cap and North Indian vest. The news item appeared under the heading ‘A Ceylonese Culture’ and is reproduced below:

"Is there such a thing as a Ceylonese culture, an if so, what is it?

This is the question that arose in a debate a few days ago in a Literary Club in Colombo. Speaker after speaker got up and asserted that there is no such thing.

An then somebody went on to quote the delightfully eloquent passage from State Councilor B. H. Aluwihare, ‘Ceylonese culture is like the Sinhalese people. It is one of the most hybrid things on earth. It is born of Portuguese and Dutch culture and it is mixed up today with the British.

In ancient days, it arose on the tree of the Vedda culture. It was enriched by the Hindus and Aryans at the Ganges, and it was then touched by the fervour of the South Indian and Tamil. I am not certain that we have not to some extent been enriched by the Negroes of Africa. I am not certain that we are not affected by the adventurers and traders from Arabia.

‘Therefore, Sir, though it is most hybrid culture. It is certainly rich, but when you ask what Ceylonese culture is, the answer is that culture has come to us from all the ends of the earth. It has enriched us, and if ever we do boast of anything, it is that we have the wealth of the four comers of the world. It has enriched our vision, our mind, our literature, and that is what we are able to boast of - the breadth of vision and the breadth of thought of our golden age.’

This is from Mr. Aluwihare’s speech in the State Council on the subject of non-Ceylonese teachers.
- Sri Lanka Guardian