Mulleriyawa field – in another era
“The waters of Mulleriyawa field turned crimson with Parangi (Porto)
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:
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
“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
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
“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
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