Epa Panchanga Litha and Don Philip Epa Appuhamy

It is much important to note down that five generations of a single family for the past 150 years, commencing from Don Philip Epa Appuhamy who introduced the printed form of Epa Ephemeris and almanac getting it off the ground in 1854.


Don Epa Appuhamy

Epa Appuhamy was born in 1810 to the family of the astrologer Don Simon Epa Appuhamy who was better known as Bala Mahathmaya and Mrs. Epa Appuhamy of Weihena in Walallawita Korale of Benthota.

After having his primary education under Rev. Walagedera Dhammadasi Maha Nayake Thera of the Galapatha Viharaya, he proceeded to Colombo to study astrology in the year 1828.

As all his attempts in finding out a teacher were failures in Colombo, he went to Panadura for the purpose under astrologer Louis Hamy. It was also a failure.

Then he turned to become an Ayurvedic physician in Colombo where he opened up an ayurvedic dispensary in addition to a pharmacy. It was at that time in 1845 that he got married the eldest daughter of Don Andris Appuhamy.

He again turned to study astrology under Pandit Vishvanatha Shivachariya Kumaraswamy of Jaffna who was residing at the Ganesh Kovil at Colombo.

Further he proceeded to India and continued his studies under a famous astrologer Atthawaiyangal of Kanchnur.

As it had been brewed in his mind from a long time to print and publish an almanac with his astrological knowledge, he got that purpose served in the year 1855 at a time that astrology was not developed as it is today. It was after his return to the island.

The 150th Epa almanac is also to be printed and published in late this month.

Further he could get a number of valuable books on astrology from India through his teacher. He was so brilliant in the subject that he could follow most of the arithmetical systems on Panchanga almanac systems of India.

In this manner he could improve his knowledge on the subject and continue with the printing of his Epa Panchanga Litha for 37 years.

However, it should be revealed that Don Philip Epa Appuhamy in alliance with an efficient astrologer Ahungalle Gurunnanse who was in the interest of introducing an almanac, printed and published a Panchanga almanac in the year 1853 of which the name is not known.

It must be emphasised that it was the first and foremost almanac printed and published in this small island. However it lasted in the same year that it was published.

Our veteran astrologer Epa Appuhamy who also an efficient writer that he wrote a number of books "Sarasan Kshepaya", "Rogarishtaya", "Thringsadbhisajagaya", "Perakumba Siritha", etc. He himself allying with some others interested in the subject, formed the Epa Appuhamy & Co. and printed and published a number of books and this annual Panchanga almanac.

It is he who invited the Rev. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Mahanayake Thera to Colombo and made him reside in Colombo, who opened the Vidyodaya Pirivena.

He himself prepared the auspicious times to commence the Vidyodaya Pirivena as well as to commence Epa Ephemeris of which both the institutions are existing satisfactorilly and successfully. He was also the first President of the Vidyodaya Pirivena executive committee.

It should be mentioned that every year before commencing an AGM of Vidyodaya Pirivena all its members pay their fullest respect to their founder members including Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Maha Nayake Thera and Don Philip Epa Appuhamy.

Now the almanac which is a household name is annually prepared by a four member editorial board including Indika Epa Seneviratne, the great-great grandson of the founder Don Philip Epa Appuhamy, who breathed his last on March 10, 1891 at the age of 81.

Epa almanac is successfully taken by five generations as shown below:

1. Don Philip Epa Appuhamy

2. Don David de Silva Epa Appuhamy

3. Don Abraham de Silva Epa Appuhamy

4. Tissa Epa Seneviratne

5. Now the almanac is annually prepared by a four member editorial board under the guidance of Indika Epa Seneviratne.

- Walter Wijenayaka - Daily News Wed Mar 10 2004

Don Philip Epa Appuhamy and the Epa Panchangaya Litha

Sunday Observer April 11 2004

Another Sinhala and Hindu new year dawns on the day after tomorrow.

Sinhalese and Hindus will be watching the clocks, interested in following the auspicious times which have been laid down for each ceremony associated with this time honoured national festival. At no time are auspicious times as important as during this festival.

For all these, reference to an almanc is a 'must', to find out the time when the new year will dawn, the time to partake of meals etc.

It is very easy for us to check all these auspicious times at a glance through an almanac. But most of us are not aware how this information has been gathered, and the hard work involving thousands of calculations that goes into preparing it.

It takes several months of meticulous work to prepare these auspicious times. Nowadays most calculations are done using computers.

No sooner an almanac is prepared and presented a few weeks ahead of a new year, the astrologer commences meticulous work to prepare the almanac for the next Sinhala and Hindu new year.

This hard work commenced 150 years ago by veteran astrologer Don Philip Epa Appuhamy introducing and printing the Epa Panchanga Litha in 1854. The 150th Epa Panchanga Litha for this year 2004/2005 was published two weeks ago by an Editorial Board headed by Indika Epa Seneviratne who descends from Don Philip Epa Appuhamy being the 5th generation.

The methods of calculation used today are the same that were used by Don Philip Epa Appuhamy, and have also been adopted by other astrologers in this country.

Who was this Epa Appuhamy?

He was born to the family of the astrologer Don Simon Epa Appuhamy who was better known as Bala Mahathmaya and Mrs. Epa Appuhamy of Weihena in Walallawita Korale of Benthota. After having his primary education under Rev. Walagedera Dhammadassi Maha Nayake Thera of the Galapatha Viharaya, he proceeded to Colombo to study astrology in the year 1828. As all his attempts in finding a teacher failed in Colombo, he went to Panadura but failed again.

Then he turned to become an Ayurvedic physician in Colombo where he opened up an ayurvedic dispensary and a pharmacy. It was at that time in 1845 that he married the eldest daughter of Don Andris Appuhamy.

He again turned to study astrology under Pandit Vishvanatha Shivachariya Kumaraswamy of Jaffna who was residing at the Ganesh Kovil in Colombo.

Then proceeded to India and continued his studies under a famous astrologer Atthawaiyangal of Kanchnur.

As it had been his intention for a long time to print and publish an almanac with his astrological knowledge, he did so in 1855 on his return to Ceylon, at a time that astrology was not developed as it is today.

He had got a number of valuable books on astrology from India through his teacher. He was so brilliant in the subject that he could follow most of the arithmetical systems on Panchanga almanac systems of India. In this manner he improved his knowledge on the subject and continued with the printing of his Epa Panchanga Litha for 37 years.

Don Philip Epa Appuhamy in alliance with an efficient astrologer Ahungalle Gurunnanse printed and published a Panchanga almanac in the year 1853, of which the name is not known.

It must be emphasised that it was the first and foremost almanac printed and published in this small island. However it lasted in the same year that it was published.

Our veteran astrologer Epa Appuhamy also wrote number of books "Sarasan Kshepaya, Rogarishtaya, Thringasadbisajagaya, Perakumba Siritha'etc. Together with some others interested in the subject he formed Epa Appuhamy & Co. and printed and published a number of books and the annual Panchanga almanac. He had his own printing machine.

Now the almanac which is a household name is annually prepared by a four member editorial board including Indika Epa Seneviratne, the great-great grandson of the founder Don Philip Epa Appuhamy, who breathed his last on March 10, 1891 at the age of 81.

The Epa almanac was produced by five generations:

Don Philip Epa Appuhamy, Don David Epa Appuhamy, Don Abraham Epa Appuhamy and Tissa Epa Seneviratne, and Indika Epa Seneviratne.

No one can explain how our ancestors began consulting auspicious times before establishing the Sinhala and Hindu new year. "Aluth Awuruddha" or the Sinhala and Hindu new year marks the sun's entry to the sign of Aries from the sign of Pisces. This marks the end of a year and the commencement of a year anew.

The times are decided astrologically with a time gap between the end of the old year and the commencement of the new year.

The gap lasts for a few hours and is known as "nonagathaya" (inauspicious time) when everyone is expected to finish up all normal work and partake in religions activities.

- Walter Wijenayaka.