Chilaw, my home town!
Dr. Granville Fernando
afternoon I was waiting near Chilaw's main roundabout. The town's
faced clock tower looked scenic and spectacular.
I waited I could count no less than six lanes of traffic spilling
lines of vehicles on to the town. Some remained, while others
off and were soon gone out of sight.
there was nothing much to do I just kept on waiting. Soon I was
about this ancient town of Chilaw. Chilaw has a romantic
Carrying with it a remarkable heritage it is also wrapped up
a colourful culture. The second most important capital of the
Western Province, the seat of a Bishop it lies in the hub of a
in no less an important province - the Wayamba or North
Province which is a veritable 'Garden of Eden' for the
and the archaeologist. For in this region lies the place
Prince Vijaya landed and the ancient kingdoms of Panduwasnuara,
Dambadeniya and Kurunegala or Hasthisailapura.
is known as 'Halawatha' in Sinhala. Denham's Census Report of
throws some interesting light on the origin of Chilaw.
is said that King Kavan Tissa sent a number of persons to convey
from Negombo 'Meegomuwa' in Sinhala to Anuradhapura. It was at
spot 'Halawatha' that the bees were shaken off their combs.
in early times was not only a reputed sea port it was also
for its pearl fisheries. According to some writers like Donald
Chilaw is connected with the Tamil term 'Salapam' which
original inhabitants of Chilaw were descendants of a group of
who came from India on military service. Originally from
India from such towns like Kanchipuram, Kaveripattannam and
they subsequently made their homes in the south.
to the 'Mukkara Hatana' it happened during the reign of
Parakrama Bahu VI (1412-1467) the ruling monarch of Kotte. The
from India had landed off the Puttalam coast and were
to capture the land. King Parakrama Bahu summoned help from
India. A battalion of fighting men were sent across to
Lanka. They belonged to the Suriya clans. Those that settled in
belonged to the Mihindukulasuriya clan. It may be interesting
note that there are five sub clans in Chilaw. They are the
Perera, Peiris, Pinto and Costa. (The Karave of Ceylon by
good percentage of the Chilawfolk still bear these identical
They settled down not only in Chilaw but even at its twin
Negombo especially at Duwa and Pitipana. Chilaw being in the
region came under European influence. Portuguese influence
well marked by the hundred per cent Roman Catholic indigenous
may be interesting to note that the King of Kotte in recognition
the services of the Suriya clans also granted them a number of
Among these was a separate Karava Kodiya for Chilaw. (Sinhala
and Standards by E. W. Perera).
the people of Chilaw have been always active and in the
Chilaw has been the home of the Sinhala Nadagama - the
form of Sinhala drama in Sri Lanka.
first Sinhala Nadagama the 'Rajathun-kattuwa' or the Visit of the
was written by Mihindukulasuriya Gabriel Fernando according to
eminent historian the late Dr. Edmund Peiris Bishop Emeritus of
the sea board town of Chilaw has kept on forging ahead. The
people are fortunate to have a beautiful statue of Mother
'Protectress of the town' who stands sentinel warding off all
calamities at the main entrance to the town.