Walauwa saga continues
When hopes collapse…
Nation EYE featured the historical mansion,
Obeysekera Walauwa, Rajagiriya a few weeks ago and
invited our readers to share their views,
experiences and additional information pertaining to
this magnificent walauwa and its many illustrious
occupants, with us.
We thank D D C Munasinghe, president of the Boxing
Referees and Judges Association, for sharing with us
the following account of the walauwa.
We again invite our readers to send us more
information pertaining to the same walauwa, or any
similar landmark building around the country.
Please send us your views to email@example.com
By D D C Munasinghe
read the article in the Nation EYE feature section
on Sunday January 19 and as requested, wish to add
the following facts, mostly gathered from the last
owner Mr Frederick Wimaladharma Obeysekera (FWO)
He had been a practising lawyer, a barrister from
the Cambridge University.
And he had also been the president of the Amateur
Boxing Association of Ceylon and also a
vice-president of Asian Amateur Boxing Federation.
He died at the age of 89 on July 2, 2001.
FWO had been residing at the Obeysekera Walauwa
since his birth, until a few days prior to his death
when he was hospitalised.
Being a bachelor, he lived with his old man servant
Obeysekera and Rajagiriya village had been
synonymous to each other.
Apparently, Mr Donald Obeysekera had bought over the
huge bungalow and the land around from the
Hewavitharana family, and there had been over 50
acres at that time.
He later built another bungalow further down the sub
The main house was called the Maha Walauwa, a
two-storey house and the new single-storey house was
called the Podi Walauwa.
The youngest son Alexander Indrajith (AIO) inherited
the Podi Walauwa and he had been residing there
until he died at the age of 84 in 2002.
I have visited both these houses as both owners had
been boxing judges.
My first visit to the famous Maha Walauwa was in
1973, along with some boxing officials.
On that day, FWO took us around the garden and also
to the upstairs of the huge bungalow.
There was a crumbling boundary wall around the vast
garden of the Maha Walauwa.
Large trees were there in front giving a cool
The entrance to the property was from the side road
as one climbs the hill.
The house had been built on top of a hillock at
Rajagiriya as the residence for the British Governor
Sir Edward Barnes in 1820s.
According to FWO, the governor had not stayed there,
but a post office had been installed.
He showed us the GPO emblem cast out with cement on
the top of the front wall.
I presume that it is still there, intact.
FWO once told me, I think in 1973, that his house
received so much prominence because it was the
former GPO and in the past he used to receive
letters from England with the address on the envelop
as ‘Mr. Obeysekera, Ceylon.’
There was a portico in front of the house under
which FWO’s dark green Ford Prefect car was parked.
Like the house, FWO inherited the car from his
On the Western side outside, the long verandah was a
From here one could get a panoramic view of the
landscape beyond. The Bank of Ceylon tower building
at Galle Face was quite conspicuous and FWO called
it the pittu-bambuwa.’
More towards the north western side in the garden
was a huge 20-foot high bell-shaped steel-mesh cage
with three grown-up peacocks, two males and a
In our presence, FWO made a cat-call which was
similar their cries.
The peacocks responded with their calls.
On the southern side of the house closer to the
boundary walls was a row of stables for horses.
The stable roofs had collapsed and there were no
When Mr Donald Obeysekera was living, they had race
FWO showed us broken down parts of a horse carriage
which had transported him and his brothers to Royal
College during their school days.
A broad verandah ran around the house.
There were doors on all sides to enter the spacious
sitting room which had been filled with antique
FWO sadly disclosed that most of the furniture went
missing during the filming of Lester James Pereis’
He alleged that a famous actor was responsible for
the loss and things that had been transported in
large vans which brought film cameras and flood
Large bed room
The broad wooden staircase leads to the spacious
The floor was also wooden.
There were wooden balconies on the east and west
There was an antique wooden broad bed with an
overhead cloth (viyana) to prevent dust falling.
This bed is shown in the film Nidhanaya.
Further down the road was an Anglican chapel, built
by the family to attend services on Sundays which
they never missed. They were constant donors to this
Earlier, most the land around Rajagiriya belonged to
the Obeysekara family.
Part of their land was subsequently acquired by the
government and given to the destitute and that area
given was called the Obeysekera Puraya.
History of Rajagiriya
When the Portuguese invaders came to Ceylon in 1505,
the Sinhalese kingdom was at Kotte. The King was old
and was known as ‘Mahalu Vijayaba.’ The Portuguese
were trouble-makers. Their ships were anchored at
Colombo port. In order to prevent them from coming
to Kotte, the King installed a heavily guarded
check-point mid-way between Colombo and Kotte. It
was on a hillock, a vantage point from where the
surrounding area and beyond, could be seen well.
This hill was called, ‘Rajagiriya,’ or the King’s
My last visit was in year 2000 along with two other
We were shocked to find that there had been
barbwires around the house leaving a narrow path for
the owner to go out. Part of the house had
The entire land had been forcibly and illegally
grabbed by a well-known thug with the assistance of
FWO was seated on the edge of an old arm chair with
most of the rattan broken.
He once lived like a prince and the next year he
died, perhaps heart-broken.
for the mind
Subasinghe is the much talked about young composer
within the musical circle today.
He stepped into the limelight about two months ago
with the release of his first ever Buddhist oratorio
which is said to be the first philosophic piece of
musical work since Master Khemadsa’s cantata on
Buddha’s Pari Nirvana.
This talented composer is ranked at high levels
with some of the greatest Western composers whose
oratorios seem to have no competitive advantage over
that of Dinesh’s.
This piece is said to be his first exclusive
composition since coming down for holidays from the
A R Rahman Academy in India.
Dinesh has titled his oratorio CD as The Buddha –
River of Kindness.
The CD includes music of many genres, such as
Western classical, Sri Lankan folk, Japanese and
Chinese styles, Buddhist chanting, Tibet music, pop
music and Indian classical music.
Dinesh considers himself to be a rare musician who
follows and appreciates ‘real art.’ He travels his
journey at his own pace and hence neither follows
trend nor sets it. Dinesh only wants to create
genuine heartfelt music which he can relate to and
in turn make it acceptable to the rest of the world.
He, therefore, hopes to enhance his music as a
language which can be expressed and communicated by
anyone at a universal level. By doing this he hopes
to establish a good musical reputation for his
motherland, Sri Lanka.
The Oratorio is based on the life story of
Gauthama Buddha. Just listening to the masterpiece
is said to be a good form of relieving stress.
Dinesh calls this ‘Music Therapy’ which makes people
calm and make them positive. The composer’s dream is
to take this unique piece to a universal level where
soon world famous orchestras will play it finally
commemorating Sri Lankan music. However, Dinesh
feels this to be a challenge as Sri Lanka is still
at the very inception of creating good universal
texture through its own authentic music.
Dinesh wishes to acknowledge the following talented
musical personnel who made his Buddhist oratorio a
successful reality. John Anthony – a great Bollywood
guitarist who has accompanied more than 3,000 Indian
movies, the main cellist who played for A R Rahman
movie solos Eilidh Catherine Martin, Asrhitha
Arockiam, Sahil Jeeth, Singh Rachinthan, Trivedi,
Pranoi Praveen and others.
Further acknowledgements go out to Rev B Mahanama
and Pragash Bosco who assisted in bringing
versatility in the tracks recorded. Dinesh takes
this opportunity to mention some upcoming Sri Lankan
Vocalists namely ‘Pabasara Shashyamali, Dinesh
Tharanga, Raveen Kanishka and a few others who he
feels have a bright future within the industry.
Speaking of Dinesh’s accomplishments thus far,
this young composer finished the first year
foundation programme with an A Grade and received
his certificate from living legend A R Rahman
Thereafter, he worked for A R Rahman in his nursery
rhymes Audio CD narrated by Bollywood actress
Katrina Kaiff. He played violin, Rawan Hatta,
Kingiri and Ekthar in the CD and also worked within
a string orchestra in Mani Rathnam’s movie Rawan.
He is the first Sri Lankan to study at the Rahman
Academy and the first Sri Lankan musician to
participate in Rahman’s music projects. Dinesh is
also a member of the Indian cine musicians union.
From his mannerisms to the way he spoke, one could
tell that for Cory Wallia, the makeup artiste who
hails from the glamorous and glitzy world of
Bollywood, it is all about perfection and sheer
One little glitch in the foundation or the way the
eyeliner is done and he needs to correct it; “Where
is the liner I was just using” – “Isn’t she glowing”
– “She’s got beautiful skin” are the constantly
heard liners while he is diligently working on a
“Most women tend to forget that beyond all the
makeup products that are available on the market are
your natural good looks! At the end of the day, what
all makeup does is accentuate that beauty; makeup
can only enhance features and beauty that is already
there. One needs to take great care of the skin on
the face and moisturise as often as you cleanse. It
is only afterwards that you can start on adding the
base that is a combination of a foundation and
concealer,” he said.
When it comes to Asian woman there is a
complexity about skin tones. Yes, we all have a
variant of light to dark skin but for some, or
rather many of us, having dark skin can be an issue.
We all want to look confident and if you take a look
at the advertisement on television, looking good and
being confident are always imparted with being fair.
“Where is all this coming from? I can quite honestly
tell you that even though whitening products are the
ones that sell the most, they really cannot make you
fair. My goal is not to make ‘fair beauties’ out of
the women I apply makeup on; there really isn’t a
philosophy of how to be confident, but if natural
beauty with a bit of makeup to highlight features
can do that, then there you go!” he added.
On principle, Cory does not work with skin
whitening products and does not endorse them either.
All the Bollywood beauties he has worked on
including Bipasha Basu, Rani Mukerji and Amrita Rao
are those with olive skin, not ‘fair’ skin. He
explained that whenever he sees someone he is always
thinking of how he can transform particular features
of the face, from adding a touch of mascara to the
eyes or ooze to the lips. He does not even like the
use of the word ‘makeover’. “Whenever I hear that
word it feels like something associated with
redecorating a room or something,” he declared. Cory
believes that he can give his clients the best out
of what is already there (natural features). “I make
use of the raw products available like a person’s
natural beauty along with my skills and certain
products to bring out what is already there. There
really isn’t a formula to it; it all depends on each
individual because makeup trends are always evolving
and changing. My specialty lies in seeing something
special and working towards bringing out their
features with the minimalist amount of makeup.”
Cory’s visit to Sri Lanka was to coincide with
the release of the IHB handbook on hairdressing and
barbering. The event was organised by SLAHAB (Sri
Lanka Association of Hairdressers and Beauticians).
“There is a lot of dedication, cohesiveness and
passion to give this profession dignity in Sri
Lanka. Your country is so advanced in many ways
compared to India and I am so proud and happy to be
associated with SLAHAB,” added Cory commenting on
the work done by Nayana Karunanayake and her team.
|A concert not
to be missed
On February 12 the
Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka, will join with some
exceptional musical personalities to perform the New
World Concert at the Ladies’ College Hall.
Gregory Rose, the British Conductor, will conduct
the SOSL in the New World Concert which will feature
international flute soloist Celine Charlier from
Brazil, who will perform a Flute Concerto with a
distinct Latin American flavour composed by Brazil’s
foremost living composer, Villani-Cortes. Charlier
has premiered many flute compositions written for
her and is certain to use her considerable
experience and skill to make this vibrant
composition come alive.
The New World Concert will also present the
outstanding soprano, Tharanga Goonetilleke, an old
girl of Ladies’ College, who has thrilled many
audiences with her fabulous singing. Tharanga is
currently performing with the New York City Opera
“Tharanga Goonetilleke was a particular standout”
(Washinton Post), “Tharanga Goonetilleke sang
gracefully,” “Appealing rich tone” (New York Times),
“Winning performance filled with emotional truth”
(Opera News), are some of the glowing terms in which
her performances have been described by critics in
recent times. The grand finale will be a performance
of Dvorak’s much loved Symphony No.9 in E Minor
“From the New World Symphony.” It is a favourite
with the musicians and audience love it.