The Olcott Oration is an annual event organised by the Ananda College Old Boys’ Association to commemorate the achievements of Colonel Olcott and the Founders of the Buddhist Theosophical Society, and features an address presented by a distinguished alumnus of Ananda to a gathering comprising public personalities, old Anandians and their spouses, teachers, present students and members of the public.
The Olcott Oration 2017 will be delivered on the subject ‘Evolution of Monetary and Exchange Rate Policy in Sri Lanka and the Way Forward’ by Dr. P. Nandalal Weerasinghe, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
The Olcott Oration 2017 will be held on Saturday, 18 November at 4 p.m. at the P. De S. Kularatne Auditorium, Ananda College, Colombo. Alumni of Ananda, and members of the public should contact the Manager, Ananda College Old Boys’ Association on +94 11 269 8551 to obtain the formal invitation for the event.
Colonel Henry Steel Olcott is one of the most distinctive Sri Lankan National Heroes, and is held in the highest respect of such individuals, while also being of special prominence due to his overseas origin.
Colonel Henry Steel Olcott was born in 1832, in the United States. Colonel Olcott engaged in the professions of journalism and law, and also served in important echelons of the government. Colonel Olcott served in the US Army during the American Civil War, which was fought from 1861-1865 and resulted inter-alia in the emancipation of slaves in the United States.
The famous Panadura Vadaya or the Panadura Debate was the key catalyst prompting Colonel Olcott to visit Sri Lanka. Colonel Henry Steel Olcott co-founded the Theosophical Society, along with Ms. Helena Blavatsky a Russian Lady and others in 1875. Colonel Olcott and Ms. Blavatsky reached Colombo in 1880 and observed the Pancasila upon their arrival.
Colonel Olcott reached Sri Lanka at a critical time. The practice of Buddhism in the country was under threat, while a Buddhist revival was in its emergent phases. The efforts of Colonel Olcott over time proved to be of tremendous importance, strengthening and solidifying the Buddhist revival, which was also a critical element in the emergence, and ultimate success, of the National Independence Movement.
Amongst many note orthy achievements, the most significant singular realisation of Colonel Olcott and his colleagues was the establishment of a network of schools mainly for the Buddhist students, which include Ananda College, Colombo. These schools were located in almost all the towns and cities across the country, stands out for its far reaching significance and long-term influence.
Colonel Olcott passed away in 1907 in Adyar, Chennai. Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, being a key figure in the growth and strengthening of Buddhism worldwide in the 19th century, is an icon of international importance and significance.