A trace of memories from Kandy Dharmaraja College
Posted on September 21st, 2014

Dr Hector Perera        London

I was attending Harischandra Vidyalaya at Temple road Negombo then I had a chance to sit for an entrance exam at Kandy Dharmaraja College. I went there with a helper then I met the headmaster Mr Wimalachandra of the junior school when I was near the playground. He spoke to me very politely and tried to help by asking a few questions. I told him that I was in 5th standard and had a double promotion. He said there is a SSC prep entrance exam that day, nothing else and said, If you want you can sit for it”. I was not sure which exam to sit but there was no choice, just one exam. The person who came to help me encouraged me and said, Why not you sit for this entrance exam”. I must say that was very encouraging even though I didn’t expecting to take up this entrance exam but no choice.

Who wrote that word there?

The exam was in a long hall with a few hundred students and I was sitting almost near the front end. In the English exam paper there were so many things such as to change to proper grammar then asked a few questions such one word for a place where you find fish, aquarium”. What is the one word for a place where you find a collection of books, maps, periodicals and documents? I knew the word is library but when I saw it was written virtually in the air, I got confused, I was surprised to see it is there. I saw it at the end of the hall and was wondering how it came there.  I didn’t want to look back as there were lots of teachers around and I might be caught for cheating. Then I rubbed something on the paper and pretended that I didn’t know the word and went to ask for help. While I pretend to be asking for help, I learned the correct spellings for library. Even when I knew the correct spellings, I got confused to see the spellings was written somewhere I could see. I must say that was the one of the things I couldn’t do in the paper. Who wrote it there, later I found out actually that part was the library but that day the whole place was taken for the examination purposes.

Once I got selected to the college, I had to stay in the hostel as daily travel from my dad’s place in Matalae was too far to Kandy. Many incidents happened while I was studying there but only a few incidents can be mentioned here.

Solar eclipse

One day a few of us went to the summit of the mountain where they have a Buddhist shrine as well. The reason why we went there was to see what is called the eclipse of the sun. At the summit we could see Hantana Mountain then the panoramic view of Kandy town, lake and Dalada Maligawa and the surrounding area.  I could see Udawattakelle Sanctuary and Bahiravokanda. On one side a range of mountains we can see Kundala farm and the agriculture campus then the winding river Mahaveli like a huge snake through the jungle and mountains then the Kandy town on the other side gave us a beautiful view. Then all of a sudden the sky started to get darker and darker then it was like mid night even though it was just before 12 noon. The teachers and some adults who were there with us asked to look at the sun through a darkened glass such as sun glasses. The sun became a sickle shaped thing and that is the time sun got eclipsed with the earth and that is a very rare occasion.

 What is a solar eclipse?

An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when an astronomical object is temporarily obscured, either by passing into the shadow of another body or by having another body pass between it and the viewer. The term eclipse is most often used to describe either a solar eclipse. In a solar eclipse, when the Moon’s shadow crosses the Earth’s surface, or a lunar eclipse, when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow. However, it can also refer to such events beyond the Earth–Moon system: for example, a planet moving into the shadow cast by one of its moons, a moon passing into the shadow cast by its host planet, or a moon passing into the shadow of another moon. A binary star system can also produce eclipses if the plane of the orbit of its constituent stars intersects the observer’s position.

As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse is a type of eclipse that occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun. This can happen only at new moon, when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth in an alignment referred to as syzygy. In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon.

Jokes about Solar eclipse

I am sure some of you can still recollect, ANE MAGE EMILY PANAE BEEWA NEDA WADKAHA SUDIYA and many more jokes about that day. I heard this joke about solar eclipse. A solar eclipse is just like a young lady is getting ready to breast feed, in a crowded bus. You may look but not supposed to look at directly at it. When she feeds it’s total eclipse, getting ready is partial eclipse but under no circumstances one is supposed to looked at it directly.

Dalada Maligawa


I read some descriptions about Kandy Dalada Maligawa and in one such account I read it as follows. Posed artistically against the steep wooded hills of the Udawattakele Sanctuary, Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist shrine, the Temple of the Tooth, or Dalada Maligawa, sits on the lakeshore just east of the city centre. The temple houses the legendary Buddha’s Tooth, which arrived here in the sixteenth century after various peregrinations around India and Sri Lanka, although nothing remains of the original temple, built around 1600. The main shrine of the current temple was originally constructed during the reign of Vimala Dharma Suriya II (1687–1739) and was rebuilt and modified at various times afterwards, principally during the reign of Kirti Sri Rajasingha (1747–81). It was further embellished during the reign of Sri Wickrama Rajasingha, who added the moat, gateway and Pittirippuva; the eye-catching golden roof over the relic chamber was donated by President Premadasa in 1987.

 Scout camping

While I was in the college, we went on a camping trip from the scouts to a camp in Mihirigama. I think we were there for few days, may be a week or so. Mr Wimalachandra was in charge of the scout group. There were so many activities such as treasure hunting and cooking competition among the groups. Some or how our group won the cooking competition. One of the things I did was to make a coconut sambol with lots of Maldives fish. With lots of Maldives fish with matching amount of chilli powder and lime juice and little salt gives a nice taste. That time I didn’t know even to make a cup of tea properly but scouting camp helped me to start thinking of cooking. Now I have found a scientific energy saving cooking technique for which I received a certificate as well from The Sustainable Energy Authority in Sri Lanka.

Cadet’s shooting practice

At cadet’s shooting practicing group one time we had to lie down on the floor, with a loaded rifle and aim then shoot at a target. We had to wait for the command then shoot but I accidently shot before the command, shoot. The cadet master wasn’t happy and I was very scared that I would be punished if I went for further practice lessons so I dropped cadetting after that incident. The cadets had to practice marching and other things and I thought that might affect my studies and I had to be very careful from my dad as well so I had to drop further attending cadetting even though it was very interesting in many ways.

Public canning and why I dropped science

Unlike the present days, some children got public canning as a part of punishment. The principal of the school sometimes canned one or two children in the assembly as a warning for others. Honestly that put me off doing any wrong things, perhaps the others got the same idea. In a way public canning set up an example for others not to indulge in doing wrong things.

Later when I became a chemistry teacher in England, I never did anything like that. It may be a time that public canning in a school assembly was acceptable. Apart from that if anyone was caught doing wrong things in the class, he was sent to a teacher to be punished. Our physics teacher was the one who canned any so called naughty children. I have witnessed several times during the physics lesson, how they were canned. Sometimes they got hit on the palm but sometimes they got a few cuts on their backs. When I witnessed those incidents, gradually I lost the taste for science. He sometimes demanded the children to recite some gas laws like Charles Law, Gay Lussac’s law. If they failed then they got punished. I was new to the class, may be like any other but these simple things put me off continuing science. Without even informing my dad, I slowly changed the classes from science to arts subjects such as history and civics.

No more English, Sinhala only

After a few month there came a rule that, all classes would be conducted in Sinhala medium and that was the last year to conduct in English medium. This change over was done by a famous politician and I wonder how many other children’s future was disillusioned by that sudden media change from English to Sinhalese medium that means education was in Sinhalese only. I must say I was one of the victims in that political matter.

  Leading up to the country’s independence in February of 1948, the high standing afforded English came increasingly under attack as Sri Lankans gained political voice and asserted that the colonial language excluded many native peoples from social opportunities and advancement and, moreover, was inadequate for the project of nation building. The indigenous languages of the country’s majority and minority populations, Sinhala and Tamil respectively, were reintroduced as official languages, but after the country’s independence, these policies altered further. Most notably with the 1956 Language Act that established Sinhala Only as the nation’s official language. Sinhala held this position until 1978 when a legislative amendment reversed the 1956 Act and once again acknowledged Tamil also as an official language.

Passed in Sinhala medium SSC

Then I was trouble again, had to do the subjects in Sinhala medium. I found it is extremely difficult to change into Sinhala medium. I never mentioned these things to my dad because I thought that would be more trouble. After Sinhalese medium SSC, I left Dharmaraja College and went back to my dad’s place. Only when the results came that he came to know that I did arts subjects in Sinhala medium. He didn’t encouraged to continue to Advanced Level because of the wrong subjects in Sinhala medium. I had no choice other than to stay at home.

Passed Law College entrance exam but

In the meantime, I applied to the law college and sat for their exam as well. Later I went to Colombo to check the results. I met a few boys near the Law College office and they nicely asked my name and checked the results and they knew I was though to the Law College. Then a few of them dragged me into a room to give what is called a rag to the new comers. I cannot say how I managed to escape from them then ran off the Law College and never went back there. When I mentioned that I was selected to the Law College, my dad said it’s not a suitable career. I am a doctor and I help and save people but you want to be a lawyer?” Further he said,” You have to lie and set off innocent to prison and set off guilty people free for money so it’s not a fair carrier”. Once again I was totally lost with only Sinhalese medium SSC results. Much later I studied science in English medium in a private college in Colombo then came to England for further studies. I have few more memories from Kandy Dharmaraja College that will be continued in a later article. Comments are welcomed perera6@hotmail.co.uk

One Response to “A trace of memories from Kandy Dharmaraja College”

  1. Nimal Says:

    Thank the Suddas for this collage or we will have our education,if previlaged under a tree.

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