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Leading by example: Jaffna Hindu College and Ananda College, Colombo strengthening harmonious ties

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 26 September 2018 00:00

During the past seven years, the Jaffna and Colombo communities have been tied in a ceremonial bond through a celebrated cricket tournament between Jaffna Hindu College and Ananda College, Colombo, icons of the Hindu and Buddhist communities in Sri Lanka, under the title ‘Sivagurunathan Memorial Trophy’.

This year the program will be organised on 28 and 29 September by the Ananda College Old Boys’ Association. In addition to the cricket encounter, an English debate for the Panikkar-Thanabalasingham Trophy, in memory of two illustrious teachers who excelled in teaching and encouraging English at Ananda, a basketball match and chess tournament will also take place. Further, on 28 September, a ceremonial dinner will be held at Hilton Colombo Residences with distinguished guests from both institutions. 

The objective behind the entire program is to create an opportunity for students, staff, and parents to transcend the physical and mental barriers that had been built up over the last few decades and eventually to set an example for inter-communal harmony.

The contest is for the Sivagurunathan Trophy, in respectful memory of V.T.S. Sivagurunathan, a JHC alumnus who was a stalwart during Ananda’s formative years. He served at Ananda from 1916 to 1942 as Headmaster and much more during the period of Principal P de S. Kularatne.

Sivagurunathan was a man of great energy and versatility. Whilst doing a full program of classroom teaching, he drew up the time-tables, supervised production of the college magazine, was archivist and chronicler, and maintained cumulative records of pupils long before the Department of Education did. He also wrote a series of pioneer books for the teaching of English to beginners, which were widely used outside Ananda even. 

Sivagurunathan openly advocated a liberal, national outlook and found the Ananda College of his day to embody this vision. The truly national-minded educationists of the day with whom he joined forces did not practice discrimination based on caste, language or religion. The struggle was to provide opportunities to those who were excluded from receiving a modern education during the Colonial period due to religious or economic considerations. 

Sivagurunathan, in his address as the Chief Guest at Ananda’s annual prize-giving in 1958, spoke of his vision for Ananda College: “And finally may I remind you all, that you are one and all the proud inheritors of a sacred trust, and it is for you and me, a past servant of hers, to see that Ananda does not become a lifeless State school, is not satisfied with being merely a Sinhalese Buddhist School, but grows into a greater and greater Ananda”.

JHC and Ananda are also linked to national endeavours during those early times in another way. 

The Jaffna Youth Congress (JYC), that had its origins in 1924, was inspired by the Indian independence movement and stood for a free and united Ceylon committed to universal values and ideals. Two of its leading lights, Handy Perinbanayagam and C. ‘Orator’ Subramaniam were products of JHC. The strength of the links between the JYC and the south can be gauged by the fact that, at its second annual sessions, P. de S. Kularatne, then Principal of Ananda College, was proposed to the chair by Subramaniam. 

Kularatne in his speech of more than an hour underlined the three aims of the Congress: (1) To revive national art, literature and music, (2) To make Ceylon economically independent, and (3) To train the young for national service in particular and to work for the realisation of the ideal of a ‘United Ceylonese Nation’.

An All-Ceylon Youth Congress was being planned as a national political force and in March 1929 a meeting was held at Ananda College in collaboration with the JYC. It was presided over by Sir D.B. Jayatilaka (a past Principal of Ananda), and the two main speakers were P. de S. Kularatne and T.B. Jayah, then Principal of Zahira College (and previously a fellow teacher at Ananda College with Sivagurunathan). 

All these visionaries personified qualities and ambitions that are vital even today for national reconciliation – a people to people endeavour. The links now being forged between Jaffna Hindu College and Ananda College are necessary to revive this convivial spirit and need to be strengthened.

The initiatives taken by JHC and Ananda are not intended to be just about the two schools and a few individuals. The organisers hope they will encourage other schools, associations, enterprises and individuals to start similar events to expand the network of goodwill and cooperation. 

All are welcome and earnestly invited to participate in the events, to give encouragement and add momentum to this essential initiative aimed at fostering a national outlook through revived inter communal relations. 

Please contact Yasas Randunu (0773831390) or Malith Rukshan (0716546562) for more information.

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