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The family gatherings of Sri Lankan society

by Dr. Mirando Obeysekere - Daily News Monday Oct 14 2002

The foundation must be a strong factor for a building or family. The trees need strong roots for its living on the earth. There are some trees like caster but their surveillance is not for a long time. The trees without strong roots fall down even in a small breeze.

There are some families rooted as Banian trees. They have roots all over the country, very powerful and strong roots. Few of those respectable families hold their annual reunions.

There are few families such as the Dias family, the Salgado family, the Corea family, Punchihewa family and the Aluvihare family have prepared such family gatherings in early history.

The family chain is a very important one for the advancement of its members. Whether it is a wedding or a funeral or any other social item the gathering of all the relatives is very essential.

There are some families having membership limited to one particular caste while some families have membership open to all the relatives but they belong to several castes. The silver smiths family union is limited to all the smiths of the country while the Tharunabhiwurdhi Sangamaya open to Deva (Wanasaya) community only. The Bathgama people have very special social reunions under the leadership of community leaders such as bhikkhus and politicians.

The Rodrigo Family Union of Nalluruwa, Panadura was founded by Johannas Rodrigo of Panadura.

According to of my knowledge the Rodrigo family union is the oldest family gathering in Sri Lanka. It was founded in 1823 for the progress of the members. They helped to the poor people of the community in various ways.

The Dias family gathering was founded in 1911 by the Dias people.

The family gatherings are not for the high castes people only. There are many family gatherings of low castes people too.

The Salgado Family Union was founded on 25th December, 1938. The founders of Salgado Family Union are the children of Johannes Salgado of Panadura.

The Corea Family Union was formed with the descendants of Dominicus Corea, alias Edirille Rala who had rendered a immortal service to protect the country from Portuguese invasion. It is notable to write that the Corea Union is open to all the descendants of Dominicus Corea. The Kshatriya Maha Sabawa is an organisation for the Karawa community.

The Tennakoons are descended from Johan Greham Tennakoon Dissawa of Kurunegala. His children are the founders of Tennakoon Family Union.

The family union is a very essential factor to keep the touch and unity of all the relatives who are living in distant areas. Perhaps abroad. There are some families in our country who are not known even to their very close relatives who use the same surname, some rich families of Colombo have'nt any connection with their poor relatives who are living in down South or up country. If we look into this problem with a sociological angle, the family union is the only solution for this social injustice. Sabaragamuwa Gnathi Sangamaya is a very powerful organisation which began about 15 years ago. This union has a broad minded ideology and policies. It is a service organisation cum family gathering.

This family gathering is not limited to one family or two. All those who were born within the jurisdiction of Sabaragamuwa province are entitled to enter this powerful organisation but most of the office bearers and members of S.G.S are aristocrats.

Ancient Sabaragamuwa is an area in which aristocrats, royalists and patricians lived since the prehistoric days of King Ravana. So during the Dutch invasion of Sri Lanka the warriors of Sabaragamuwa rendered a yeoman service to banish the Dutch invaders from Sri Lanka.

The Sinhala warriors such as Maduwanwala Dissawa, Welange Weerasinghe Mudiyanse, Emathiyagoda Mudiyanse, Kirielle Jayasundara Mudiyanse, Abeynayake Kuruppu Mudiyanse, Panane Dassanayake Mudiyanse and few others were honoured by the King Rajasinghe II for their limitless service to surrender the Dutch forts at southern province. Galagoda Maha Adigar was the commander of this great battle.

The Sabaragmuwa Gnathi Sangamaya was formed after a broad discussion by Jimmy Marambe, Attorney-at-law, Abeyratne Marambe, Gamini Samarasundare, Parkrama Parussella, Deshapriya Udugama, Francis Marambe and Sarath Samarasundare.

The first meeting of the S.G.S held on 6th October, 1987 with the participation of Lal Abeygunaratne. Attorney-at-Law, Amara and Wijitha Palamakumbura, Athula Beminiwatta, Reggie Eheliyagoda, Dudley Angammana, Reginald Angammana, Sisira Marambe Senevi and Sarath Maraliya and Mr. Bandarawatta, attorney-at-law.

(S.G.S. Souvenir P: 01-1992)

Abeyratne Pilapitiya former Chief Minister of the Sabaragamuwa Province says in his statement:- "There are five thousand members of the S.G.S and its Ideology depends on the Sinhala Buddhist way of life."

(S.G.S - Souvenir - 1992)

Unlike other family gatherings, the S.G.S helps to the down trodden people of the Sabaragamuwa province to uplift their living and social status.

Marambe Walawwa of Eheliyagoda is the headquarters of this organisation and the working committee meets normally to discuss the current activities of the organisation.

This organisation offers scholarships for the higher studies of the children of Sabaragamuwa province. In 1999, the S.G.S held its annual general meeting at the Queens Hotel, Kandy and they had conferred an Honourary title "Swarna Surya Vibusana" for a Sinhala writer who was born in Sabaragamuwa province.

Jimmy Marambe, attorney-at-law is the chief operator of the machine of the S.G.S. The Marambes are the descendants of Sabaragamuwe Maharala, a Kshathriya chieftain who had lived during the days of Sinhala kings.

Sabaragamuwe Maharala is known as Weerasinghe Pathiraja of Sabaragamuwa. Handugama Ariya Kumara and Weeradatta Brahmin Princess are his parents. Maduwanwala, Pilimatalawa Mapitigama, Maraliya and Angammana families are connected to the illustrious Marambe family. Sabaragamuwa Gnathi Sangamaya is a powerful social service organisation dedicated for the service of all those who are living in Sabaragamuwa.