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Sri Lankan Kandyan Sinhalese Family Genealogy

MAHAWALATENNE, S.D. - Family #3061

1 S.D. Mahawalatenne

2 (daughter)
 
2 Mahawalatenne Kumarihamy + Barnes Ratwatte Dissawe (3060)
 
3 Sirimavo Ratwatte b:17-Apr-1916, d:2000, (First woman Prime Minister in the World, Prime Minister, 1974, 1998) + Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 1958, Assassinated by a Buddhist Monk in 1958 (1001) m:2-Oct-1940 
 

On April 16, 1916, Barnes Ratwatte Dissawe & Rosalind Mahawelatenne Kumarihamy, were blessed with the birth of a daughter. She was named Sirimavo. The family had been members of the Ceylonese upper class for generations, and, as a result of this had a rich Buddhist & Christian heritage. The family's ancestral seat was in Balangoda, where Sirimavo spent most of her childhood. Barnes was a stickler for tradition: and insisted that his home and his family were the same. Sirimavo was the second eldest of five children, having one sister Patsy, and three brothers, Mackie, Seevalie, & Clifford. Barnes was a strict but fair disciplinarian, and instilled a sense of responsibility in his children.

 

Sirimavo was a bright child, described as being full of fun but with a serious contemplative side. Her education prepared her for the limited opportunities that society then dictated as a norm - effectively tending a home and raising a family. In the large conservative Ceylonese Buddhist society in which she lived, this was how women were viewed. It was their pre-ordained role and there were precious few examples otherwise, until later in Sirimavo's own life. Through her actions she would set a new example and shatter the glass ceiling that existed for the women of her country and even the world at large.

 

Sirimavo took her first steps during her childhood education at Ferguson High School in Ratnapura, and later, at St Bridget's Convent in Colombo. She was always one of the brightest in her class and came away with "A" Grades, as quoted by one of her family friends. She buried herself in books, in the absence of TV and very little in the way of stimulative radio. St Bridget's Convent had an excellent library which she utilized to fulfill her thirst for reading.

 

"World history was her passion", says her son Anura. "She always had a fascination for history and current affairs. I am told that as a child of even 8 or 9 she would read my grandfathers' newspapers and in her early teens her book reading drove the family to distraction as my grandfather would buy her a book and she would finish it one night". Her fathers book buying may have looked like poor value for money at that time, but her vociferous appetite for literature was, in the longer term, helping to develop a keen mind. "She particularly enjoyed biographies", says Anura, retelling how she read and re-read biographies of world leaders on a handful of occasions.

 

From being nodding acquaintances, initially, a relationship suddenly sparked between Sirimavo and SWRD Bandaranaike, in 1939. The intensity of this union shocked their respective families but they still approved of what was obviously an excellent match. SWRD found his intellectual equal in Sirimavo. She challenged him, and to be honest there were not that many people of any gender, at that time, who could do that. They spent a vast amount of their time, together, socially since their initial meeting.

 

Sirimavo was not a political animal. SWRD's State Council work and his politics were of little interest to her directly, although she found herself absorbed by the political process by way of her beau's complete immersion in it. Her involvement was mainly confined to the emancipation and advancement of women in society, in general, and to encourage more active consideration for those women and their families trapped in poverty.

 

In 1940 SWRD visited Barnes Ratwatte at Balangoda to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage. His proposal was immediately accepted. Sirimavo was 24 while SWRD was 41. The age gap seemed to make very little difference to either of them. The Minister of Local Administration had met his match and that was all that mattered. Sir Solomon ensured that the nuptials were attended by all pomp and pageantry that one would expect for nobility and that the event befitted his sons status as one of Ceylon's leading political figures. For 24 year old Sirimavo, it was the beginning of eighteen years of wedded bliss, which at its tragic end would dispatch her on an extraordinary political journey of her own.

 

The marriage of Sirimavo to SWRD laid the foundation for a political dynasty of remarkable proportions. Elsewhere in the region the Nehru-Ghandi dynasty dominated India, while the Bhutto's, periodically, did the same in Pakistan. They settled into married life on the Bandaranaike Estate at Horagolla. In addition they also occupied homes in Colombo at Broomfield and Tintagel. Horagolla, with its picturesque landscape and countrified atmosphere was always a place that Sirimavo loved. The opportunity to escape into the interior away from the pressure cooker of political life in Colombo was something that always appealed to both the politician and his wife. However, the business of nation building was never far away and was a duty that Sirimavo had known when marrying SWRD and she occupied her energies by focusing on becoming a noted hostess.

 

The first child born to the couple was Sunethra who became extremely attached to her father during his lifetime. Sir Solomon, SWRD's father, passed away 11 months after the birth ofChandrika (CBK) Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Sirimavo's second child. The last child, Anura, arrived on 15 Feb 1949. Of the three children Chandrika was most like her father, even from an early age. She was more rounded than her sister but with the same handsome bone structure. Chandrika learned to read quickly and became a dedicated bookworm like her mother and father. She was more serious than her siblings brooding over whatever was on her mind. Her hobbies centered around dancing and her parents enrolled her in lessons in a variety of different styles of dance forms. Her favorite was always the Kandyan style which she perfected at the Chitrasena Kalayatnaya School for Cultural Arts in Kollupitiya, joining the school at the age of ten.

 

CBK joined her older sister at Vijiarama Dhamma School. Religious instructions were very important in a society that plays great significance on traditions. Her parents made it a point to ensure that the children were all strongly grounded in religion. The girls attended St Bridget's Convent (SBC) School at Cinnamon Gardens while Anura gained admission to the prestigious Royal College in Colombo. In addition to her academic pursuits, CBK, threw herself into several extra curricular activities, at various times being an active member in the SBC Chess Club, Girl Guides Association, Sinhala Literary Association, Arts Society & Science Society. She continued her oratory tradition in the school's debating society following in the footsteps of her father who had excelled in debating at the Oxford Union in the UK. A member rof the SBC English Debating team she competed all over Colombo and its surrounds against many other schools.

 

CBK was also very keen on sports, dabbling in Badminton, Netball, Swimming, Table Tennis and Tennis, which was her true passion. On one occasion she fought her way to the finals of a school tennis tournament. Both her parents attended the final match and although she lost she still recalls the simple happiness of participating in such an occasion. Tennis was eventually superseded by a passion for gymnastics.

 

The subsequent tragic loss of their father has had an important bearing on the lives of all three children. One recollection, in particular by CBK, reveals a glimpse of the emotional and physical void that was created by his passing. "..... Our Mother liked cooking and she made delicious cakes and puddings. But unlike present dayh mothers she did not cuddle us on her lap and pet us. But my father was different. When we woke up in the morning he used to cuddle us ..." . Just as he stood like a political and intellectual giant over the island as a whole, SWRD's physical and emotional influence was the glue that bound his family together. Until the age of 14, CBK, along with her siblings, Sunethra and Anura, would have precious little time to bask in that influence. Sirimavo, then went on to become Sri Lanka's Prime Minister, reaping the honor of being the Worlds first woman PM. CBK later went on to the Sorbonne in Paris to complete her higher education and was recalled by her mother to take over as a Minister in the Sri Lanka Government during her mothers Premiership.

 

CBK and Giraj Rajapakse, the nephew of Stanley de Zoysa, were sweethearts since their early teens and planned to be married in early 1976. Having schooled at St Thomas' College, he entered into business management education. On 15 Oct 1975, after dropping a fried n of his at Mt Lavinia, driving on his way home he fell asleep at the wheel of his vehicle and met with a tragic automobile accident that killed him instantly. Giraj was just 31 years old. She was devastated. It was a year before she could recover form this second loss in her family life.

 

CBK had met Vijaya Kumaratunga on several occasions at numerous party political circles. Although he was Sri Lanka's most celebrated male star of the silver screen, the dashing movie idol also held strong political views and was a member of the SLFP. He had mesmerized Sri Lankan movie audiences for two decades starting his film career in "Hantane Kathawa" in he late 1960's. He went on to play the lead male role in almost 25 films and starred in a total of 114 movies. His most acclaimed performances were in Lester James Pieris' "Village in the Jungle" based on Leonard Wolfe's celebrated novel, as the failed aristocrat in Tissa Abeysekera's, "Mahagedera", and as Jesus Christ in "The Life of Christ". He was voted the most popular actor for a record six consecutive years. He also appeared in one English film, "The God King" and one Tamil Movie, "Nanguran" during his film career.

 

In the year 1977 Vijaya Kumaratunga broke the hearts of many of his legion of female fans when he announced his marriage to CBK. They fed off each other intellectually. At home they were forever discussing political issues and it was a bright and lively household. They have two children, Yasodhara, born 1981 and Vimukthi born in 1983. Vijaya was tragically gunned down, while seated in his vehicle by an assailant outside his home, in 1988 in the midst of a successful political campaign in seeking a peace with the LTTE in the North who were demanding a separate state for the Tamils of Sri Lanka. He was cremated on Feb 21 1988.

 

CBK, later went on to become Chief Minister of the Western Province in May 1993 and then was elected as the Prime Minister on June 27, 1994 under her mothers Presidency and then went on to be elected President of Sri Lanka, on Aug 17, 1994. She stepped down from politics in 2005 after handing over the Presidency to Mahinda Rajapakse, who served as Prime Minister under her leadership.

 

Sunethra married Kumar Rupasinghe and has since divorced and now runs the NGO SUNERA FOUNDATION that aspires to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and destitute.

 

Anura took to politics and is currently (2006) the Minister of Tourism under the Presidency and Government of Mahinda Rajapakse. He was the Speaker of the House in 2000 under the UNP Government which survived a rough ride under the Presidency of his sister CBK. He has chosen to be a bachelor to date (2006).

4 Sunethra Bandaranaike + Kumar Rupasinghe (div)

 

4 Chandrika Bandaranaike (President of Sri Lanka 1998) + Vijaya Kumaratunga

           5  Yasodhara Kumaratunga, b:1981

               5  Vimukthi Kumaratunga, b:1983

4 Anura Bandaranaike b: 1949 (Member of Parliament 1998, Speaker of the House 2000)
 
3 Patsy Ratwatte d:2001, + Col EJ Divitotawela
 4 Hiran Divitotawela
 4 Name Not Known
  4 Ravi Divitotawela d:Jun-2003 under tragic circumstances + Nandani Paranagama
 
3 Barnes Ratwatte + Iranganie Dunuwille
 4 Anil Ratwatte + Tamara
 4 Sarath Ratwatte + Sharmini
 4 Anoma Ratwatte
 
Obituary:
RATWATTE - BARNES SC - Beloved husband of Iranganie Dunuwille, loving father of Anil, Sarath and Anoma, 
father-in-law of Tamara and Sharmini, much loved grandfather of Viren and Arjun, expired Cortege leaves residence 
at 215 pm for Cremation at General Cemetery Kanatte at 300 pm on 11th January 11, Malalasekera Pedesa, 
Colombo 7 Daily News Sat Jan 10 2004
 
......3 Dr Seevali Ratwatte
..3 Dr Mackie Ratwatte
..3 Clifford Ratwatte