Rename Colombo
Posted on June 25th, 2011

Nihal Jayasuriya UK

It is pleasing to hear about the beautification programmes for Colombo City and the planned link with Osaka in Japan.

This may also be the optimum time to consider renaming Colombo City in line with the changes in names in various other Asian cities.

It is very disappointing that the name of our capital city is projected outside Sri Lanka as a western name bonded to colonialism. It is not surprising the colonial masters adjusted the simple Sinhala name to Colombo to suit their tongue which we all seem to carry on in apparent ignorance.

In stark contrast to the majority of the mass of the country who call the capital in its true Sinhala rhyme Kolo-mba, in English and internationally it is called Colombo as of having an Italian connection. It is pathetic to note that we ourselves in Sri Lanka call it as Colombo whenever we switch to English, be it in speech or writing.

Nobody outside Sri Lanka knows the Sinhala origin of the capital’s name but does assume that it is related to the country’s colonial past.

 I have met many a person outside Sri Lanka who thought that we were under the Italians as to the reason why our capital is named as Colombo. Colombo is a popular Italian name and there are towns and airports in Italy and elsewhere bearing the name Colombo. There is the popular Colombo detective series we all like.

 It is also not helpful at all that a country that is notorious for violence and drug trafficking, Colombia rhymes close to Colombo. When violence is mentioned in the international media it may take more than a while for somebody to clarify/digest whether it is in Colombia or Colombo. Many misunderstood the violent news as coming from Colombo as happened in the immediate past.

 Many other countries have had the problem of colonial names in the past but have shed them away rightly with their progress and we should not look beyond our close neighbours, India in this respect who replaced western names like Madras, Bombay, Calcutta with Tamil Nadu, Mumbai and Kolkata respectively.

 We Sri Lankans should be ever grateful to Mrs Bandaranayake for getting rid of the name Ceylon but probably overlooked the facts on Colombo at the time. It may come as another feather in the cap for the present government if they rectify this national shame that goes unnoticed by all.

 I request earnestly His Excellency the President Rajapakse and the other national leaders to rename Colombo with a true Sri Lankan name which could be pronounced easily as soon as possible

24 Responses to “Rename Colombo”

  1. Dham Says:

    Nihal,
    Please visit SRIlANKA and enjoy the peace and beauty if the government makes Colombo more attractive and come often. But don’t suggest changing names like stupid Indians have done. We have other important issues here. Why not suggest changing name of London ?
    We already have SRI JjAYAWARDENAPURA as our capital.

  2. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    I think the foreign COLOMBO you ref to is C O L U M B O.

  3. rask12 Says:

    Nihal, Not to change the name but make it as our commercial capital,

    It is very disappointing that the name of our capital city is projected outside Sri Lanka as a western name bonded to colonialism. It is not surprising the colonial masters adjusted the simple Sinhala name to Colombo to suit their tongue which we all seem to carry on in apparent ignorance. I tatally agree with you this that’s why these idiots in Uk including the so called politicians has no idea what C4 is talking about it. There is another idiot written in one newspaper about war cimes and cricket , No one is thinking clearly ,it’s really sad because this is money talking ,Bl…….y C4.

    This is our country ,this COMPLETE country belongs to ALL OF US. I hope and pray Mr.MR will stand as a rock.
    MAY GOD BLESS SL.

  4. Dham Says:

    rask12,
    You are probably not aware of what is happening in cricket. In parallel to C4 rubbish they ESPN and Suddas cricket writers started attacking Sri Lanka behind the seen, within the cricket community.
    They are saying ,
    ¨Sri lankan government sent Jayasuriya by force to England. They want to take every opportunity to discredit the government and Jayasuria is a selfish greedy man do not care about the country, went there, giving them the opportunity. In all cricket analysis they over rated England team and tried to psychologically attack out team.
    These bastards in UK and out there to kill our government, people , religion and everything in all directions.

  5. AnuD Says:

    As I read, Kolomba was called Kolomthota long ago because there was a Kolom Tree by the side of the Port. I think, Sinhala also has the set of words Kola + amba. Some how, It became Kolomba. I think, later a sudda fellow could not pronounce it properly and used the word colombo. After that, our kalu-sudda who were translaters (Mudliers) to the white rulers registered those names.

    Otherwise, see Kande-rata (maha nuwara) is called Kandy. Galla is called Galle. Megomuwa which can be loped to pronunce negamuwa is called negombo. Manthota is called Mannar. Even, there are ridiculous names like bambalpetti for bambalapitiya.

    The norm should, a name is always the same whether it is in Sinhala or in any other language. Yet, out Kalu-suddas are happy to uppoty-class, according to the “sri lankan values”, so use these englisized sinhala names.

    Do you think, I am close to the possible reality ?

  6. jayt Says:

    Have to change all names. go back to origin. Sri lanka is not longer a colony of anybody. Get rid of Silvas and Fernandos and other funny names that Sinhalese borrowed or imposed that are funny to Sinhalese. These names only fit for Portuguese and their descendants, and that do not sound funny to them because it’s their origin and represent their heritage.
    Here is an example; if somebody ask English family to name their baby with Portuguese name, can you imagine how much they are going be feeling funny and laugh?.

  7. Dham Says:

    Friends,
    There are a lot of unfinished business to finish before considering changing names.
    I am fully against stupid Indian example.
    Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata did not bring any justice to the people. Myanmar too did not bring justice or prosperity.
    Sri jayawardanepura is the capital of Sri Lanka. Did that name bring any relief ?
    These are simple secondary issues.
    Establish our Sinhala- Buddhist value system properly without following suddaś value system. Do not compare with any country.
    Change names after that.

  8. Dham Says:

    May be Colombo should be named Mahindapura, Gotabhayapura or Sarathgama. Do you like it ?
    Another debate only.

  9. Kit Athul Says:

    Lt. Colombo (Peter Falk) passed away last week in California. He was 82 years old. Colombo should be Colombo. It was Portuguese who gave this name. Not the Tamil Nadu Tamils. This our Sinhala history.

  10. jayt Says:

    unfinished business has to be done along with changing name. Sri has nothing to do with Shri lanka. Sri is mean different and also Sanskrit word. Why allowing people to change to sound funny or funny.
    Real name is Shri lanka.

  11. AnuD Says:

    It is not only Indians, many countries have changed the names; that includes African countries, burma, india, even natives in Canada.

    Name Change in Colombo Affect a lot as Colombo is used in even in the air port and other related places. But, there are so many other names that can be changed.

    That includes peoples stupid thinking of that a name also can be translated in to English.

  12. Dham Says:

    May be Wellawatte should be called Demalawatte. No I prefer Little India – is good so that tourist know it is the ShriLankan version.
    Royal College shall be named Suddas College. Thurstan College = Mahinda College.
    Slave Islands ? must research.
    Havelock Town – Issipatana Gama ?
    Fort = Kotuwa thats OK.
    Galle Face ? No way . Must research again.

    I suggest MS Mudali shall be appointed Minister for Changing names.

  13. aravinda Says:

    The river Kaleni was known as Kolog ganga. The town next to Kolong ganga was known as Kolong pura. Name Colombo is derived from Kolong pura.

    In 1612, Portuguese had 400 slaves from Mozambique or Angola working in Colombo. The area today known as Slave Island was swamp land. Every night these unfortunate souls were locked up in this area. That is how word Slave Island came by.

    The Portuguese had stated an Ice factory in this area. It was known as Ice Company street. Later it became kompannya veediya.

    One name I like to change is Royal College. Best name is Kuruduwatta Maha Vidyalaya. That will ease some pressure in school admissions in future. I studied at Royal and I have no problem in calling my self an ” Old Kuruduwattian”.

  14. cassandra Says:

    I am with Dham on this one. As he has so sensibly said, let us not follow the silly ways of the Indians, changing place names like mad: and also as he has pointed out, have the changes of names done much good to Madras and Calcutta and Bombay? These are but cosmetic changes with which shrewd politicians, who have nothing meaningful to offer, try to keep the citizens happy.

    I don’t buy this argument that we need to change the city’s name from Colombo to something else because the name Colombo has alleged colonial connotations. The next thing you know, the likes of this writer will be asking that the Pereras, the Fernandos, the De Silvas and the De Zoysas change their names because of their Portuguese origins. But where do you stop when you start on something like that? Are we going to do away with names like Rohitha, Anil and Sunil because of their Indian origins?

    Colombo has been our city’s name for years and years. Let us learn to value the things that are part of our heritage. In places like Britain – and the writer of the article should know this only too well – they respect the old and the traditional and don’t go around simply changing place names just for the sake of it.

    We changed the country’s name from Ceylon to Sri Lanka but had the good commercial sense to continue calling our tea, Ceylon Tea. What has the writer of this article to say about that? Should he not logically also ask for our tea to be called Sri Lanka Tea?

    He says that he has “met many a person outside Sri Lanka who thought that we were under the Italians as to the reason why our capital is named as Colombo.” Well, it seems the writer is moving in the wrong circles, if that is what they think. I am afraid that changing our capital city’s name from Colombo is not going to improve their poor knowledge of history (or geography)!

    I must say that I cannot understand this clamour to change place names because of some alleged association with our colonial past. Like it or not, our colonial past IS part of our history. It is not going to go away. True, the colonial masters did many things that were detrimental to our culture and our traditions and all manner of other unattractive things. But I believe that, far from trying to forget our colonial past, we should in fact remain always conscious of it so that it serves to remind to us of how precious freedom is and of how easily we can again lose it unless we are careful.

    There are also some terrible things that some of our Sinhalese kings (and queens) did. But these also, like the ills of colonial rule, are not thing for which we are responsible. They are nevertheless part and parcel of our history. What really matters is not what happened in the past – over which we have no control – but what we do with the present which is what we can do something about and what we need to do something about.

  15. jayt Says:

    Rohitha, Anil and Sunil are not property of India. their ours too. they derived from Sanskrit. It is our culture and our ancestors’ heritage. All Sinhalese names derived from Sanskrit. Do not give legal right to some groups of extreme people India to claim owner ship for everything. We, Pakistani and Iranian carry the most beautiful bold heritage of Indo-Aryan culture. Pakistanis changes names due to conversion to Islam but still they protect the original culture and many carries the name like Raja.
    Indian are proud of Indian culture. India have done great good thing with changing names, but they did nothing to control population and many other important changes, and today they have become a slave nation which is great insult to Indian heritage. Miss Indira Gandhi was a true Indian priminister and protected Indian heritage. During her period all great Indian legends: Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangashkar hit the top.Under her, Indian government gave some guns to Tigers, but it was out come of Western trick to divide India and Sri lanka to establish their present in the region.

    Cassandra and many Sinhalese not aware of what Tigers supporters in The West want. They want to destroy everything that Sinhalese proud of through espionage. Although, they have this agenda is not only for Sri lanka but for other part of the world. however, Sri lanka an easy target .

  16. charithsls Says:

    Some comments have the ‘frog in the well’attitude;the name was long standing,more other important things there and against India.None of these should deter to correct a wrong.Recent govt order was to rename all the institutions as Sri Lanka( eg.BOC) if so why not Ceylon Tea?Of course there will be cost and other logistical matters but if we considered them ,Praba would have been running the NE now.Just think down a century do you like your grandchild to be moving forward with the new wave of progress leaving all colonial vestiges or still to be identified outside SL as a Colony?Have some pride guys!
    CS

  17. Kit Athul Says:

    Aravinda, Sorry Kuruduwattha Vidialay for Royal College? No this place was called Kuubikalle (Ant Forest) So it should be changed to Kuubi Kale maha Vidyalay. It will certainly ease the pressure of admissions. Which perernt wants to send his chilredren to a school where they will be bitten by ants? Now Aravinda go back before your time at Royal college. Before you get in to Royal College you have get in to Royal Primary School. If you did not pass the exam to get in to Royal College, then you were sent to Government Senior School!. This school was located in Thurlston Road. It is now called “The Thurlston College” Mihinda College, if some one wants to change the name. I went to Royal Primary School, unlike you I failed the exan and ended up at Governmewnt Senior School. At that time the principal was late De Saa Bandaranayake. Now if you went to Royal College; Mudguard (oops, Sathukawalan) and Elmo St. Buruno, who went to Trinidad would have taught you. Corect!. They were good people. I am not detective Colombo, but with another small clue, I could find out which high class family you are from!

  18. Nanda Says:

    Kit Athul,
    We have the following people from Kumbikele College ( Even Issipatana Maha Vidyalaya is called College nowadays).
    Persident’s Secretary
    Retired Navy Commander
    Ranil Wickremasinghe.
    Even Rani Wickremasinghe passed the exam to go to the senior college. How did you manage to fail ? I can’t believe this – unless you had some part time job as the Gate keeper at Vishka Vidyalaya or ladies College.
    So, did you study with our President at “Mahinda College” ? How was he that time ?

  19. aravinda Says:

    Kit Athula, At my time, Principal was Mr.LDH Peiris and Primary School Vice Principal was V.G.Weerasinghe. I was a hosteller. The Warden was Mr. Nanayakkara ( Hara). Mr.Usetess who did Calculus and Trig was my favourite teacher.

    That idiot with a cane, Christie Gunasekera (Kataya) was the Vice Principal for Higher grades. Malinda Seneviratna’s mother use to teach English. And I remember “Kadale” very well. He lived behind the Hostel. I use to frequent his abode.

    One way to get to Royal may have been a test. The other ways were, living in 2 mile zone, having lots of money or knowing the right people. Still these principles apply.

  20. Dham Says:

    Aravinda,
    Some of us came from ordinary schools. Mr. Usetess started teaching us in extra classes after school hours. Without him we could have easily failed A Levels. He is my hero. Cannot imagine how dedicated he was without any financial benefit.
    I heard he was in an international school lately, may be retired now.
    Mr. Usetess is a good example of simplicity,humility and dedication. That is what we need. No need to change names. Just do your work. Let Royal College be Royal college, let Colombo be Colombo and Jaffna be Jaffna. It is silly to go after names and doing nothing. Do not imitate India.
    I wonder Nihal Jayasuriya is wearing Sarong and Ariya suit. I must say ¨stop talking rubbish¨ to him.

  21. Dham Says:

    To bring back to the subject again, it those who feel inferior because of colonial past want to change names. They live in the past doing nothing and still feel inferior. To them I must say ¨achieve superiority¨ and that is enough.

  22. Kit Athul Says:

    Arvinda, now you can see how old I am, much older than you. None of the names I brought forward is known to you or other writers, and the names you gave are not familiar to me. Late De Saa Bandaranayeke used the cane on me but he was a good man, I knew his sons, one very closly Gem bandaranayake, I do not know where they are now.

    Nanda, these names you gave are vey much younger to me. I do not know my self up today why I failed the exam at Royal Primary School to get in to Royal College? I lived in Maradana, Colombo 10; may be some examiner thought this place should go to some one from Colombo 7? I do not know. But what a splendid idea you presented. Gate keeper at Vishaka Vidyalaya! (Forget the Ladies College, a stupid British Colonial creation, why don’t you suggest a change to this name using a former name of a principal) I would have love to do the job as the gate keeper at St Brights Convernt and Vishaka Vidyalaya. If a girl needed a ride home after school on my bicycle! What a splendid idea. Next H.E. Mahinda Rajapakse is approximantly 14 years younger to me. How did he do at school? I do not know. Don’t forget, I went to Government Senior School, later it became Thurlston College. I wish I knew you long time a ago, I would have suggested to my parents that I take up the Gate keeper job at St Brights convent in the morning shift and in the evening shift at Vishaka Vidyalay. And at night teach the willing girls Calculus!

  23. Kit Athul Says:

    Nihal, please change the subject. We need to discuss Jayalalitha and Sri Lanken parliametarians gangning up to distory the Soverign State of Sri Lanka. This historic Victory has not been realized by the Sri Lankens yet.

  24. appuhamy1 Says:

    CEYLON is the ancient world’s corruption of Sinhala Dwweepa, the country’s most ancient name. Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike changed it to Sri Lanka for political expediency. People praise her for that as they are ignorant of history. We must revert back to Ceylon.

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