For the Singing of the National Anthem in Sinhala Only: Two Adamant Voices

On the 21st January 2020 two personnel who are part of an “Email Collective” in which I am a member (mostly as a recipient) raised challenges by a comment within the Thuppahi route (Perera) and by an Email Note to the Collective (Hewapathirane) — arguing for the singing of the national anthem in Sinhala Only. Expecting the issue to arise on February 4th and overwhelmed with work on my two websites and other pursuits, I did not respond immediately. Janaka Perera is nothing if not persistent and has tapped me on the shoulder again.

Let me place their theses in the public domain first so that other voices can chip in. My answer will appear in a day or so as a separate entity.


A: Memo from Janaka Perera, 21 January 2020

My reply to the above response (below) was not carried either as an article or a comment:

I raised only ONE issue – the issue of singing the National Anthem in more than one language at the main Independence Day event – not others.  So I cannot see why the COMMENTS boxes cannot cope with it.

First of all let me state that my last two sentences (called meaningless hogwash) was either misunderstood or misinterpreted. I never denied nor ignored the complex socio-economic problems including language issues generated between 1948 and the present times, including the Sinhala Only Act of 1956.  These were different problems which successive governments failed to solve effectively and both Sinhala and Tamil politicians were responsible for aggravating them.

But I cannot see what connection these have had with singing the National Anthem in one language.  This is the reason why I drew attention to India where 22 languages are spoken but her National Anthem is sung only in one language at the main Independence Day event in New Delhi. The differences between the socio-political and historical evolution of Sri Lanka and India are far less than those between Sri Lanka and South Africa (and for that matter New Zealand too).

So why give examples from them when we can find one from our immediate neighbour?

Also I raised the question whether the number of countries where the National Anthem is sung in two languages is more than those where it is sung in one language.

‘Thuppahi’ thinks singing the National Anthem two languages is a symbolic gesture. To me it is more cosmetic like the short-sighted policies the so-called yahapalana government implemented in the name of reconciliation. They too – among others- impacted its defeat at the last Presidential Election.

However let me conclude by saying that since this has already been done it will be difficult for the present rulers to go back to the pre-2015 period lest they be accused of Chauvinism and racism.

B: Memo from Daya Hewapathirane, 21 January 2020


Our National Anthem should necessarily be sung only in Sinhala. Sinhala language is  the defining element of our nation’s culture and heritage, from historic times. Sinhala language and literature originated in Sri Lanka. All salient aspects of our national culture – tangible and intangible, either grew or evolved within the borders of our country. The Sinhala language grew out of Indo-Aryan dialects and exists only in Sri Lanka and has its own distinguished literary tradition. Sinhala is one of the world’s oldest living languages. All other languages used in Sri Lanka originated in other countries.  It is significant to note that the overwhelming majority of people of Sri Lanka are distinguished by their language – Sinhala, which even today has a strong unifying effect in our motherland helping to reinforce the solidarity of our people as a unique cultural entity in the world. Almost all place names of the country from historic times, are in the Sinhala language – in the North, South, East, West and Central regions. Indigenous national sovereignty of a country is an inalienable right based on profound justice. Sovereign national rights of Sri Lanka rests with the Sinhala people who are indigenous to this country, forming its dominant majority community for over 2500 years. Sri Lanka is the only national sovereign motherland of the Sinhala people. Their culture, way of life and their Sinhala language originated and developed in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s National Anthem should necessarily be sung only in Sinhala.

Tamils are a small non-indigenous minority community of Sri Lanka amounting to a mere 15.4% (including the 4.2% of Indian Tamils), and the Muslims account for about 9% of the total population of Sri Lanka. The Sinhala community who form the historic mainstream community of Sri Lanka amounts to more than 75% of the island’s population. Tamils and Muslims are small communities in Sri Lanka who settled in the island at different times in the past, coming from their own motherlands. The Tamils came from their motherland, the Tamilnadu where their culture and language originated.

In many sovereign nations of the world, non-indigenous communities have settled down and have merged with the dominant, mainstream host nation into a single file. Those settling down in host countries have a bounden duty to merge with the host nation as a single coherent nation. This is facilitated by their learning the language of the host nation, and actively participating in singing the national anthem in that language. Sri Lanka wants all minority communities -Tamils, Muslims and others of whatever label, to become a part of the mainstream Sinhala Buddhist Nation, just the way minority communities are expected to do in all other countries in the world, especially in places like Canada, Australia, USA, UK, Norway. All Sri Lankans irrespective of their ethnic origin, or other differences should sing the country’s well- established national anthem only in Sinhala, the authentic language of the island. .

A NOTE: in support of his thesis Hewapathirane circulated the contentions espoused by Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera in a news item presented by Chamilkara Weerasinghe in the Daily News, ….


“Victors must write country’s victory”

Ven. Prof. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera yesterday stressed that it is the government’s responsibility to disallow the Tamil Diaspora from writing the history of Sri Lanka with definitive action once and for all.

He said so in an interview with the Daily News on the influence of the Tamil Diaspora lobbying against the Sri Lankan government. The Thera said the custom under the previous UNP-led regime was to give in to the malevolent scripts of the Tamil Diaspora that were aimed at denigrating the people of the country,

the army, the clergy and the very foundations of its culture.

“An effort should be made to dismiss the Tamil Diaspora from this role of writing Sri Lanka’s history in line with their sinister separatist political agenda,” the Thera reiterated.

The Thera said that the government must bear in mind that it went to war against one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations, LTTE and won it, and that it is the victor who must write the history of the war, not the members of the Tamil Diaspora who fanned the flames that must do so.

“The government must come up with a strong programme against disinformation campaigns launched against the country by certain organized sections of the Tamil Diaspora. They will try to push through these disinformation campaigns through anonymous reports or unproven reports.

They are promoting these campaigns with the support of various INGOs,” the Thers said.

“The government, as the victors, must not give in to the influence of the Diaspora scripts, such as those found in the Darusman report or any other report,” Ven. Prof. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera added..

Becoming and Being Sri Lankan: The National Anthem in Our Mother TonguesIn “accountability”

An Essential Coupling: For A Bilingual National Anthem on 4th FebruaryIn “accountability”

Where Majoritarian Part subsumes the Whole: The Ideological Foundation of Sinhala ExtremismIn “devolution”



Filed under accountability, centre-periphery relations, chauvinism, communal relations, cultural transmission, democratic measures, discrimination, disparagement, education, ethnicity, fundamentalism, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, language policies, life stories, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, racist thinking, Rajapaksa regime, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, unusual people, violence of language, world events & processes, zealotry

3 responses to “For the Singing of the National Anthem in Sinhala Only: Two Adamant Voices

  1. San De Silva

    Sad to see the Sangha participating directly in Social Activities and Politics!
    Their duties are to inculcate in Humanity the concepts of Enhancing Appreciation of Loving Kindness, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity to all Sentient Beings.

  2. Pingback: Our Anthem FOR Hearts and Minds | Thuppahi's Blog

  3. Palmyrah

    I wonder whether anyone has ever written English lyrics for the anthem.

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