Why it is necessary to have one National Anthem sung in one language ?
Posted on December 20th, 2010

By Charles.S.Perera

 The necessity to sing our National Anthem in Sinhala is being debated now. It appears to be an appropriate time to discuss the importance of a National Anthem and in which language it should be sung. There are comparisons of the language of the National anthems sung in different countries.

 It is time that we in Sri Lanka should in certain matters take our own decisions evaluating our own situation, cultural values , our national construct etc. without having to do some thing because some others are doing it, or some others are not doing it.

 It should be the same with regard to the choice of the language in which the National Anthem is sung, or even what flag we should have as our national symbol. Sri Lanka has evolved since its Independence from the British Rule in 1948. Our Independence took significant changes. The first Independence was negotiated by the then National political leadership. We were then able to face the British rulers as a united Nation and demand Independence.

 There were no Communal differences then. In 1951 the Sinhala lyrics of the song Apa Sri Lanka was initially accepted as the National Anthem, the beginning of the song was subsequently changed. It was thereafter translated into Tamil and those who wanted to sing it in Tamil was allowed to do so, for the sake of convenience.

 A nation should have one National Anthem and it should be sung preferably in the National language. It is not important that in India it is sung in Bengali, or in Malaysia it is sung in Malay, or in South Africa it is sung in several ethnic languages. If Sri Lanka were to be a true nation without communal distinctions, we may also have our National Anthem in Tamil. For that the Tamils should make patriotic moves.

 But India , Malaysia, and South Africa or even Canada have a reasons for having their National Anthem in different languages . It is simply because in those countries the different ethnic communities have no “unholy” wars with the respective governments about setting up “homelands” or demand recognition of different ethnic languages as National languages.

 In India, whether one comes from Gujarat, TamilNadu, Kerala or Maharashtra, they are all Indians. They speak different languages as well, but Hindi is the National Language. It is the Same with Malaysia- they are all Malaysians, or in South Africa they are all South Aftricans.

 Unfortunately in Sri Lanka the Tamils want to make it different. The Tamils in Sri lanka are not Sri Lankans, but they are Tamils in Sri Lanka. That is the problem.

 That is also the problem in every thing in Sri Lanka with the Tamils. They want Tamil also as the National Language. The Tamils have aspirations, the Tamils have grievances, Tamils want political devolution, Tamils want North and East for themselves,

 Every Tamil Journalist pretends to be more intelligent than any one else. In Transcurrent DBS Jeyaraj, who sometimes writes objectively, is not without his Tamil “blinkers” when writing about the National Anthem. As he says the singing the National Anthem in Tamil had been left without objection. But it does not mean that we should not remind that the Official Version of the National Anthem is in Sinhala.

 He says , ” It could be seen therefore that this Island nation has displayed a sense of accommodation towards the usage of Tamil language in the sphere of “officially” singing the national anthem throughout its post independence period.” Many things had been left as they had been for many reasons. “, because of terrorism for instance.

 And as I pointed out it took a long time for the real Independence to come to Sri Lanka. After changing of hands from the British rule to Independence in 1948, Mr.SWRD Bandaranaike broke away from the UNP and formed the SLFP. MEP lead by SLFP came in to power replacing the UNP in the elections of 1956. It was the Independence won by the active participation of the people. The idea of a Nation came into being after the 1956 election.

 It was this idea of a Nation that prompted Mr.SWRD Bandaranaike to declare Sinhala as the National Language. It was also the beginning of the Communal separation of the country with the racist politicians like Chelvanayagam, Ponnambalam and Amirthalingam opposing the Sinhala majority , sowing seeds of separatism. The Tamil Leadership in Jaffna was more interested in themselves and claimed official recognition of Tamil language with the idea of setting up a separate territory exclusively for the Tamils.

 This resulted in the subsequent armed intervention by a group of Tamils from Jaffna trained by the RAW of India to resist the Government of Sri Lanka through armed terrorism. Sri Lanka suffered under terrorism for thirty long years and thanks to the election of Mr;Mahinda Rajapakse as the President of Sri Lanka , terrorism came to an end in 2009.

 We now come to the third change of the 1948 Independence. This change into real Independence was after the elimination of terrorism, hand in hand with infrastructural developments, and an economic awakening and the election of Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse as the President of Sri Lanka for the second time.

 The people are at last experiencing the real Independence of Sri Lanka, separating itself from the dependence of its former Colonial rulers, and distancing from unfriendly Western Nations who for still unknown reasons are conniving with the expatriate Tamil communities living in their countries to divide Sri Lanka between the Tamils and the Sinhala, probably to maintain their control over a divided Sri Lanka.

 In the meantime perhaps to the greater chagrin of the West the World Bank has declared Sri Lanka a Middle Income Country. It is therefore a pride for all- the Sinhala, Tamil, the Muslims and other Communities to be awakened to this reality of being an Independent Middle Income Nation, and re-evaluate ourselves to rise to the occasion as a united Nation of Sri Lankans.

 It is in this light we should evaluate the symbols of Independence as a Nation and revitalise our National cultural symbols such as the National Anthem, the National Flag and the National Language to fit into our real Independent Status.

 The Tamils should at least now come forward to be recognised not as Tamils, but as citizens of Sri Lanka, and hold hands of friendship with the Sinhala, the Muslim and others as compatriots.

 The Tamils have the very rude manner of calling the Sinhala, racists, chauvinists, supremacists and trouble makers, the moment a Sinhala stands up for his rights or make favourable demands in respect of matters of unity, not withstanding the fact that the Tamils as of right speak out loud all the time for Tamil aspirations, Tamil grievances or Tamil rights.

 The Tamils should now realise that the Tamil ” aspirations” they emphasise are not for unity with other communities, but for division, to stand apart from other communities. Therefore, at least now the Tamils should accept the National Anthem in Sinhala without rejecting it as a discrimination against the Tamils. The two communities should now try to build a cordial relationship “brick by brick” without the Tamils rejecting anything related to Sinhala as a discrimination against them.

 It is said that before we make demands from our parents we should ask ourselves , ” what have we given them ourselves for us to ask for more from them ? “.

 The Tamils always keep on asking ever since the end of terrorism (and even before), for more Tamil rights, for Tamil aspirations, for political devolution, for Land rights, for settlement of Tamils in lands occupied by the HSZ, and for settlement of Tamil grievances and so on. The Sinhala and Muslims and yet others also have rights, aspirations , and grievances, but that is not important for the Tamils, because what is important for the Tamils is their rights”¦…

 But what have the Tamils given in return to Sri Lanka, to consider that they have a better right to make demands ? The Tamils are not happy because the Sinhala is the “majority”. And therefore the Tamils think it is the Sinhala who should make sacrifices.

 Haven’t the Sinhala already made enough Sacrifices more than the Tamils had ever made and will ever make in the future ? Doesn’t that it self make the Sinhala deserve a little more ? The Sinhala do not ask any thing for themselves, but they ask for unity , they want to work with the Tamils, and Muslims together as a Nation, so that there will be peace, and with peace there will be happiness.

 The National Anthem sung in Sinhala by the Sinhala, Tamils and Muslims would be a symbol of unity. It will be an acclamation of unity with all the people living in this little Island which is nobody’s homeland, but every bodies motherland.

 If there is again another terrorism it will again be the Sinhala Buddhists who will rise up to fight against the terrorists. Could we depend on the Tamils to join with the Sinhala if there is such a misfortune again ?

 This is not political myopia-as DBS Jeyaraj would say.

 DBS Jeyaraj says, ” After decades of a separatist conflict the alienated Tamil population is slowly struggling to be re-integrated into the political mainstream of a united nation. Now they were being denied the right to sing the national anthem in their mother tongue and dealt a symbolic blow .”

 It is the role of the people like DBS Jeyaraj educated Tamils, to bring all the Tamils in to the mainstream of a United Nation of Sri Lankans.

 Another Tamil journalist Shanie, writing to the most virulent anti Sinhala website Sri Lanka Guardian , says , “We trust the government will therefore re-think their short-sighted move and not make any changes in the use of the National Anthem in both languages throughout the country. The members of the Tamil Mandram at Royal College, for instance, should be able to sing the national anthem in Tamil at any official function; similarly at the Royal College Prize Giving, the students should stand to attention and sing the National Anthem each in his own language to the same tune. If any change is to done, we could think, as one writer has suggested of using the South African model in having the National Anthem sung partly in Tamil and partly in Sinhala so that all citizens get used to the idea of a bi-lingual national identity.”

 These are the same educated Tamils who want the National Anthem sung in Tamil even in Colombo, but against Sinhala people settling down in Jaffna and the East, and who refer to ethnic chauvinism to insult the compassionate Sinhala people. Why cannot they even now use their poison pens to call for Sinhala-Tamil unity not as Tamils and Sinhala but as Sri Lankans.

 Do they not realise that to pontificate in this manner is to provoke Sinhala to react against the Tamils for their intransigence , and they have a right to do so without being called chauvinists ?

 The Tamils were not alienated by the Sinhala. The Tamils are alienating by themselves on their own accord. The Sinhala people are beckoning the Tamils to come and join them as citizens of Sri Lanka , as they are not Tamils just living in Sri Lanka.

 Let us therefore begin by singing our National Anthem only in its original language- Sinhala.

13 Responses to “Why it is necessary to have one National Anthem sung in one language ?”

  1. Kit Athul Says:

    Namo Namo Matha Must be translated to Chinese. If the national antham is sung in Tamil then, it must be mandatory to be also sung in Chinese at the same event. Sorry, Tamils cannot have one foot in Tamil Nadu and the other in Sri Lanka. This is not Ariststal logic it is simple logic.

  2. Nanda Says:

    Well said Charles. We Sinhalese always considered Tamils as our own Tamil brothers ansd Tamil sisters, not as Tamils. We loved them. We loved the diffference. We treated them well. They betrayed us by supporting LTTE , willingly of unwillingly. That is a fact.
    Let them speak in Tamil. Let them keep their culture. Let them keep all their traditions. Let them sing the NA in Sinhala. Let him or she be one of us again. Let them gain that status which they willingly gave away.

  3. M.S.MUdali Says:

    S.W.R.D. Bandaranayake had a vision for prosperous Sri Lankan nation. He elevated Sinhala/Tamil to the OFFICIAL levels. the Official Language Act of 1956 stipulates “all state corespondences must be in Sinhala and Tamil”. That is why Sri Lankan government unde him imported thousands of TAMIL type writters to the government departmnets.

    Christian Selvanayakam opposed the legislation because ENGLISH vanished and not for the Tamil. He demanded Tamil in North and east and forgot the majority Tamils who lived outside of the North and East. Banda even agreed for an amendment but it was not implemented due to the pressure from the Sinhalese. Remember the Catholic Church and Selvanayakam sent telegrams to British Queen to interfere and asked to scrap the Official Language Act. That means they wanted ENGLISH instead of Sinhala.

    The Catholic/Christian elements are still active in the RACIST politics of Sri Lanka. Catholic Church is the mentors of the LTTE even today.

    Sinhalese and Tamils look at their colonial masters for instructions even today. Banada’s Nationalistic policy never being carried out by his followers and they too jumped to the band wagon of SINHALA politics. Sinhalese and Tamils follow the British created DIVIDE and RULE policy which give more troubles to a nation of a middle class population.

    British tried to have Sri Lanka under their influence always. Banda’s policies were anti-British and pro-British politics and their Sinhala allies killed him.

    Sri Lanka has two languages only. Do we have problems in singing in both languages? Are we telling National Anthem in Sinhala sholud be sung in Tamil medium schools? Can those students understand it? Language is a communication tool and let it be there as it is.

  4. Charles Says:

    The language is a “communication tool”, but the National anthem has more to it. It is the symbol of unity. It is a song. It is not difficult to sing songs in any language. I am not an Indian and I do not know a word of Hindi, but I can sing a Hindi song.

    What is the problem . The Tamils should also think of unity and make an effort to take steps towards that end without sticking to Tamil only stand. The Tamils should be whole heartedly Sri Lankan. They should accept National symbols without calling its equivalent in Tamil. Otherwise it would be to create division. We have had division for long enough and time has come for the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim to Unite.

    Sinhala have proven that they are prepared to accommodate every one in their fold. They fought for the unity of Sri Lanka without asking the Tamils to join them. If the Tamils were Sri Lankans they would have willingly joined the Sri Lanka Armed Forces against terrorism.

    Now that is the past. The Sinhala do not make demands because they were the ones who made the greatest sacrifice to unite Sri Lanka and bring it under one flag, One National Anthem and One Language.

    The Sinhala only want the Tamils to be Sri Lankans.

    We have to sing the National Anthem in one language because all Communities should unite as one Nation, without any community harbouring a desire to set up a “ Homeland ” or have separatist mentality.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    The main problem here in Lanka is that a sort of DUAL CITIZENSHIP is operating between some Northern Lankan Tamils (mainly those having Refugee status), who ferry between Lanka & Tamil Nadu. Where are their loyalties ? Some Tamils want more “Tamilness” in every thing. “Tamilising” Sri Lanka has become an obsession.

    We accept ‘reasonable use of Tamil’. but going all the way on the 13-A and having the National Anthem in Tamil on equal basis is not justifiable.

    Those Tamils who have Refugee Status (UNHRC card holders in both Lanka & Tamil Nadu), and who opt to live in Lanka should be Naturalised in the proper way, just as they do in the west, by presenting proper papers, have knowledge of Lanka’s history, have some knowledge of the Sinhala Language, take an Oath of Allegiance, etc. After these formalities, they can be accepted as citizens of Sri Lanka, just as they do in the west. These Laws should apply to every new citizen of Lanka.


    (a) Why should there be Tamil Refugees from Tamil Nadu ? These Tamils are in their Homeland. Why are they Refugees in their own Homeland of Tamil Nadu ?
    (b) How does GoSL know a Tamil Refugee (if we can call them that), form an Illegal Migrant ?

    Most of Lanka’s troubles with some of her Tamil population is because we have NOT yet put in place proper & clear Laws to govern the current Tamil Refugees, namely some 100,000 Tamil people from Tamil Nadu said to be in camps in TN. We continue to have lose arrangements re so called Tamil Refugees, and howl when they are used by Tamil Nadu & vested interests to further their interests inimical to the rest of Lanka. Sri Lanka is smaller than the Far East countries which have some lose arrangements re illegal migrants & refugees, and these countries allow cross border comings & goings such as between Thailand/Burma/Indonesia/Vietnam, etc.

    Even the problem of the National Anthem in Tamil exists because Lanka has not been assertive about loyalty to this country. Yes, it is high time we had Naturalization Laws in place. Yes, it is high time an Oath of Allegiance is introduced to every school, govt. offices, armed forces, etc.

  6. Sajith Says:

    I agree with MS Mudali on this.

    But don’t tell me Bandaranayaka had a vision. He had no vision whatsoever. He only wanted to be popular at any cost. How can he be anti-British when his mother LADY RIDGEWAY was a Brit and his father SIR BANDARANAYAKA was a knight? He messed things up.

    Two national anthems, one nation. One national anthem, two nations.

  7. Nanda Says:

    Mudali and Sjith,
    Some say both of you are the same. But I’d like to ask you,
    Which nation having 80% of people who could speak a certain language would revert to sing the NA in another language which is spoke by only 10-15% ?
    Problem is Tamils becasme too bigger than they could sustain. They thought they are Jews of SE Asia. This is pure stupidity. Finally they have proven they are fools. So time to wake up.

  8. M.S.MUdali Says:

    Other nations dont have language based politis and language based riots.

    All the leaders under colonial rule has those titles and educated at Oxford and Cambridge.

    Fidel Castro too educated at Harward.

    Are there any rules there to tell sons/daughters under the colonial rule cannot revolt against the Brits?

    Karamchand Gandhi too educated in Britain. Nehru too.

    Banda’s mother a Brit? I never heard. Obaysekaras were not British!

  9. Sri Rohana Says:

    Fran you are exactly correct. Tamil refugees in tamil country (tamil nadu)??? This is the biggest joke in the recent era. How come someone is a refugee in his/her own country? They have gone to their traditional tamil homeland. Most countries have ancestral rights to return to homeland. Even British’s can go from their colonies Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and claim ancestral rights in UK. Why not tamil country (tamil nadu) implement ancestral rights to tamils?
    Most tamils who went to tamil country during terrorists war since 1983 were not having any identity or citizenship in Sri Lanka and mainly from Mannar /Vauniya/ Killinochchi districts and Talai Mannar Island. They were illegal immigrants to Sri Lanka and came from tamil country (tamil nadu). They came by boats and went back by boats. Those who had identities got the passports from Colombo and went to Europe or Canada through Airports and applied for (economic) refugee status and western fools believed their fabricated stories??
    Compare to tamil country (tamil nadu) the westerners are way better. They have allowed even the tamil bogus refugees, and within two- three years they were granted citizenship. But since 1983 some tamils are living in camps in their homeland tamil nadu nearly 27years. Those racist tamils nadu political jokers were very worried when we kept some tamils in camps for six months after liberated from velupillai’s LTTE in 2009.

    Tamil leaders of DMK M. Karunanidhi or ADMK Jayalalitha or Nedumaran or Vaiko or Seeman are deaf and dumb on this poor tamils. Rather than grant ancestral right to them to their own country those racist tamil expansionists wants to send them back to Sri Lanka for their expansionist agenda.

  10. M.S.MUdali Says:

    Those refugees are Sri Lankan and not Indians. If you guys cannot find the truth, try to learn more instead of barking.

    If the Tamils try to get the ancestoral rights, that is also possible because Mahavamsa clearly states the rule of Tamil Kings in Sri Lanka. Did any Sri lankan Royals go outside of Tamil Nadu for help or marriage during the days of Kings?

    Now you guys follow Portugeuse Parangia history. That is the problem!

  11. Charles Says:

    No body barks here. They are all intelligent people each putting forward their point of view on the subject under discussion. Every one in Sri Lanka have ancestral rights. It is immaterial what the ancients kings did or did not do. The Portughese, Ducth , British or Elara periods are over.

    We are in 2010, a post terrorist era, and we the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim etc., are populating this Island. We want to find out ways for every one to exist together as a Nation to build this country which is our motherland. No body wants to go to war. We are seeking ways to be a Nation of one people-Sri Lankans.

    It is simple as that.

  12. Nanda Says:

    Lucky Mudali is barking form Canada, unable to reach SirLanka with his retarded mind.
    Why can’t the 8% Tamils who do not understand a word of Sinhala learn it and become Sir lankans ? They will do it easily. Those with big heads but empty brains and evil minds have already cleaning toilets in Canada, happily ever after ! No compains there. Singing Canadian NA in French !

  13. Sri Rohana Says:

    MUDali! Accept the fact that tamils are from tamil country (tamil nadu) Velupillai Chelvanayakam, M.G Ramachandran, Velupillai Prabakaran all are original tamil nadians. That’s tamil homeland. British invaders have gone so ask Karunanidhi to take you guys back to tamil country. You guys can learn, speak and fill form in tamil and fulfill all the aspiration in tamil nadu but you have to sing national anthem in Bengali no tamil version even in tamil country. If you go back to tamil nadu there aren’t any grievances at all. So why you guys are suffering in Sri Lanka?
    I don’t think tamil kings ruled Lanka. Only before King Dutugemunu, Elara the tamil invader occupied Northern Lanka for several years. At that time other two Kingdoms were in Kelaniya under King Kelanitissa and Magama (South) was under King Kawantissa. Northern part also liberated by Great King Dutugemunu after defeated tamil invader elara.
    One thing we know very well that tamil invaders came to Lanka for looting gems and other valuables deposited in our sacred places and temples. The other reason was to destroy our civilizations. Don’t you admit that Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa temples, Buddhist universities and civilizations were destroyed by tamil invaders.
    Other than they looted Lanka can you at least give a single good example that they done to Lanka? At least have they built a Temple, a Tank, a Palace, a Garden, a Canal at least a toilet? Can you prove MUDali. Tamil invaders were non-second to Portuguese, Dutch and British invaders.

    You said, “Did any Sri Lankan Royals go outside of Tamil Nadu”.
    You have to read Sinhala history if you don’t know MUDAli, Magadha Emperor Asoka sent his son and daughter to Lanka to establish Nepal prince Siddartha Gauthama’s ( Buddah) buddhism in Lanka.
    Great King Vijayabahu was helped by Myanmar’s Emperor Anawaratha to defeat the tamil invaders. Later King Vijayabahu sent Theravada bhikkus to Myanmar and Emporor Anawaratha became a Theravada follower. This is how Theravada Buddism established in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Bali, Java and other parts of the South East Asia. This was real diplomacy not like nowadays spy diplomacy.
    We know very well that tamil pandyan king sought assistance from our Great King Parakramabahu to regain his kingdom from tamil king kulasekeran pandyan. Our great senapathi (general) Lankapura defeated rival tamil Kulasekeram pandyan and throne was given to tamil Vira Pandyan. So the Sinhala’s never asked assistance from tamils but tamils sought assistance from Sinhala Mudali.
    Again during Rajasinghe the second’s era to ordained Buddhism Thailand’s Siyam prince Upali and 500 bhikkus came to Lanka via Gokanda Port (Trincomalee). But not from tamil nadu. Eric Solheim or David Milliband or Hillary Clinton but not we believe fabricated tamil history MUDali!
    (Only J.R Jayawardena and Ranil Wickramasinghe sought assistance from tamil nadu to entertain prabakaran. Both were dumb Asses not royals).

    We know very well that Muslim’s Delhi Sultanate ruled India 300 years (A.D1200-1500) and Moguls Sunni muslim ruled your motherland India for more than 200 (A.D1500-1700) years since 1200 and at that time India’s ruling language was Persian/Urdu. If you stick in to same logic, will you ask Indians to make national language Urdu again? Ask Indians to sing national anthem in Urdu and Persian also? And ask Muslims to claim India as their traditional homeland? And Britain was ruled by French under William of Normandy so will you ask French Bernard Kouchner to claim that Britain is their homeland? Or ask tamil godfather Milliband to change British national anthem to French?

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