A seaside village remembers a literary giant | Daily News

A seaside village remembers a literary giant

It is yet an unspoilt setting that would make a nature-lover’s heart go aflutter. A scenic feast that would fascinate you as you walk across the mangroves and thence on to the golden beach and look southwards. The broad beach stretches in an arc as far as you could see. The vast blue Indian Ocean shimmers in the morning sunlight.

In the years of my youth that sight had captivated me time and again. I cherish those memories of the holidays that I spent at my maternal uncle’s residence, a sprawling bungalow – type house that remains a landmark in the entire Bentota district. It is the land of my ancestors.

Induruwa is sandwiched between Bentota and Kosgoda and remains virtually unchanged. It seems in this village, time has stood still.

This writer has seen villages putting their palms together in an act of worship before the statue of Piyadasa Sirisena which is by the Galle Road at Induruwa.

It is a relatively new mortar and brick image of their home bred hero and that worship was instinctive – an impulse-driven reaction to the man who brought great honour not only to their village but also to the entirety of the South. Few in this country have been able to inspire a mind change among common folk at a point of time when this island needed it most.

Piyadasa Sirisena born in 1875 departed his village to the big city after his initial education in Aluthgama. He then launched a literary odyssey which in the words of an eminent historian and lawyer N E Weerasooria QC in his ‘History of Ceylon’ made him an instrument of the silent revolution that swept this land and prepared its soil for political emancipation.

Sirisena produced pages and pages of written words unmatched in modern Sinhala literature that were designed to remind the Sinhala Buddhists of their ancient heritage and civilization and inspire them to fight for freedom from British rule.

On October 28, the Divisional Cultural Centre of the Bentota Cultural Council, organized a literary festival which also featured a memory recall of the work of Piyadasa Sirisena in addition to a host of other activities capped by a talk on culture and by a well-known Sinhala lyricist Kularatne Ariyawansa. It was a worthy exercise especially for the school children to participate in. It would hopefully instill in them a love for culture and civilization. The cultural Centre of Bentota was established in Induruwa more than a decade ago. It owes its establishment to Jayalal now the Divisional Secretary and G.A, Kalutara who was at that time AGA Bentota.

The good work that he initiated is being continued by his successors namely the current President of the Centre, Vithana and Wickremarachchi its Honorary Secretary.

Among senior citizens of Induruwa involved in this praiseworthy literary enterprise is Prasanna Abeywardena, Vice President of the Centre.

It is pertinent to mention that some direct descendants of Piyadasa Sirisena who have been community leaders in Induruwa in regard to the social services rendered to the people.

The statue referred was financed entirely by Upali and Lakshman Sirisena the former a leading Agriculturist and national award winner for Agricultural extension projects, who was one time District Lands Officer – Galle and the latter, Lakshman an attorney-at-law, former Magistrate who recently completed 50 years of service as a member of the Balapitiya bar.

They are sons of the late W A C Sirisena, JPUM and the elder son of Piyadasa Sirisena. He was former Proctor, Balapitiya from 1956 to 1961. People in the area yet remember how he saved the lives of several Tamils by protecting them under his roof during the communal riots of 1958.

Finally a curious and strange incident that will surprise readers.

The Tsunami of 2004 wrought death and destruction to virtually the entirety of the South Coast –from Moratuwa to Hambantota, but it spared Induruwa.

The sea in Induruwa did rise to a degree. This was followed by a small wave which swept across the Galle Road swirled across the Piyadasa Sirisena statue reached the parapet wall enclosing the garden of W.A.C Sirisena and recede back to the sea seemingly in haste.

This was an entirely natural phenomenon but many thought it was an act of God. And many are not yet aware that there is submerged barrier of rock in the sea in Induruwa, which perhaps was instrumental in preventing a huge rise of the waves which raced inlands in other parts of the South Coast.

The villages living near the seas at Induruwa who were in a state of complete fear had heaved a big sigh of relief after the little wave receded.

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