Multiculturalism: The People – By Randika Jayakody & Jerome Perera

Multiculturalism: The People – By Randika Jayakody & Jerome Perera

Source : Qld Sri Lankan Newsletter – Dæhæna – April 2024

We have written extensively on the synergistic nature of Sri Lankan multiculturalism. In this article we wanted to summarise some notable individuals who embody and represent the diverse history of Sri Lanka and whose contributions are immense.

Many have heard of Arul Mary as the Queen of the P SaravanamuttuStadium (P Sara) , where she, for decades was the pitch curator of the historic cricket ground. Many historic games have been played under her watchful eyes of the carefully curated pitches. She was one of the few female pitch curators in the world of cricket, and a person ofTamil ancestry. Arun Mary’s legacy lives on in the work of sisters Amravati and Seroja Vellai who continue to curate the pitch for games at the P Sara.

Basil Horsfall was a Ceylonese recipient of the Victoria Cross for gallantry in battle. Basil was a Ceylonese sergeant in World War I, who won his medal for astounding bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. In the moments where he refused to retreat despite grave head wounds, he embodied the determined spirit of the Ceylonese people which has seen them through, racism, social change, mass violence, natural disasters, and oppression.

Aimee Jonklaas was a Ceylonese World War II transport pilot and one of the few women to fly for the allies. It was her dangerous role to transport a variety of planes during wartime and was a proud Ceylonese contribution to the Second World War. Homi BIllimoria was Ceylon’s first city planner and contributed enormously to the architecture of the island. He designed the Independence Square along with the Tintagel and a range of other buildings which are now seen as Sri Lankan architectural icons. Homi Billimoria is a person of Parsi ancestry.


Image Source : reefandrainforest

Geoffrey Bawa, of Eurasian ancestry, is a legendary architect, world renowned for his tropical modernist architecture. Geoffrey Bawa’s architectural marvels can be seen at the Lunuganga Estate, Heritance Kandalama and Jetwing Lighthouse.

Wally Bastianz is the pioneer of the legendary chorus Baila which is now ubiquitous around the island. Ogustus Martalanus Bastianz hails from the phenomenally mixed Batticaloa district and combined Kaffiringha with guitars, music, and Sinhala words in a way only possible from a place as multicultural as Batticaloa.

Uruwarige Wanniyala Aeththo is the resolute and sagely leader of the Dambane Wanniyala Aeththo community. He has been a steadfast and proud representative of the first and oldest Sri Lankans. As a member of the indigenous community, he has represented the country at world indigenous forums and fought against oppression of his people. A son of the legendary maverick Tissahamy, who refused to bow down to government pressure to settle and fought Sinhalese colonisation of indigenous land, Uruwarige Wanniyala Aetththo continues the struggles of indigenous peoples around the world. When discussing multiculturalism, it is also important to remember and pay homage to the many people who have immensely contributed to the historical and cultural landscape of Sri Lanka.


Randika Jayakody and Jerome PereraRandika Jayakody & Jerome Perera
Among Randika and Jerome’s many interests is a deep passion to understand Sri Lankan history and culture



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