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Sunday, 29 May 2016





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Mulleriyawa field – in another era

“The waters of Mulleriyawa field turned crimson with Parangi (Porto) blood”

It was this “Bloody” line , translated from the more savage original Sinhala verse that provoked my friend and me to take a look at this famous field, where one of the last battles between the Portuguese and the Sinhalese was fought. It is an understatement, when set against the compliments paid to this battle by historians, exhibiting it as the first battle where Asians won over the mighty Europeans.

Once famed field

Rajasinghe 1 or Tikiri Kumaru Rajasinghe was the hero who came along the banks of the Kelani river from Sitawaka to give battle to the invaders who had hitherto proved indefatigable and were determined to do away with the sovereignty of the island.

My pal could not have chosen a better or a worse day for this search of the famed field. The site of Mulleriyawa had not changed, for it stood right in the outer fringe of the Colombo city, veering towards the river, where once raged the initial battle between the two parties that produced matter for the first three lines of the quoted verse:

“The war drums of Sitawaka beat loud and long,
Even the flesh of cats formed the diet of,
Those foes imprisoned within Colombo fort.”

So the highlands were spared the venue of battles, and this time it was the lowlands getting easily inundated with the waters of the Kelani river that provided the battlefields.

My pal and I, having almost memorized the verses, expected boards displaying them as exemplary showcases of local bravado, but were quite disappointed. In fact, we are to be blamed for the choice of date. Imagine the further consternation caused when two women keep on asking for the site of the Mulleriyawa field in all that chaos.

However, a vast stretch of field could be seen and finally the chief monk of the temple enlightened us by saying that nobody took any notice of this field now.

“The inclement weather is not to be blamed for its state” he explained, “The bridge leading to it was broken a long time back and now nobody bothers to visit it”.

Except for two fools like us, and for what we carved on its imagined tombstone.

Valour exhibited

“This is the place where the Sinhala race exhibited its valour against possible conquerors”.

And as for the waters turning red, the locals had this explanation:

“Rasigh rajjuruwo had learnt the art of cute sword making from the Portos and before the latter’s entry into the area, the local warriors had hidden these swords in the mud which they pulled out to do the needful.”

What a scene they would have presented! Today, or on the day of our visit, a memorable site, but of a different sort, was etched in our minds. Vehicles thronged the main junction of Mulleriyawa with yellow boats mixing with the traffic while a giant housing scheme almost shadowed the whole town.

Had we consulted a pundit in the field of construction, he would have quipped:

“It is these monstrosities that quickened the erosion of the town. “

But we were there almost by accident, not to investigate the background of flood-sodden Mulleriyawa, but to get a first hand glimpse of the famous Muleriyawa field, which we failed to get.

Have we angered Rasingh deiyo by this negligence? So here is unsought advice:

When the town is restored, please make that field the centrepiece and hang up the epic poetry pieces for public viewing just to cause some animation. This is not provocation or xenophobia, but giving it the due place and the glory, floods or not. Further, an attempt has been made to trace the voyage of places, century-wise (from the 16 th century to the present day).


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