Wednesday, 10 March 2004  
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'Ananda College has always been in the forefront of Lanka's national movement'

by Colombo East group correspondent

The Hela Havula conducted its 60th annual Munidasa Cumaratunga commemoration with a public meeting at Ananda College Hall, Maradana last Tuesday. Hela Havula leader Anandapiya Kudathihi presided. Ananda College Principal B.A. Abeyratne garlanded Munidasa Cumaratunga's bust.

The 'Maa Namadu' lyric composed by Cumaratunga was sung to music by a group of Ananda students. Popular songstress Amitha Vedisinghe and her choir sang Cumaratunga commemoration songs.

Ven. Tirikunamale Ananda Anunayka Thera of Amarapura Dharmarakshita Nikaya, who addressed the audience first emphasised the importance of the study of the literature created by Munidasa Cumaratunga for the present generation. Such an exercise will definitely improve its knowledge, power of expression and creative thinking.

Ven. Ananda quoted several examples of prose and verse written by Cumaratunga to illustrate his view. Even if one takes a few passages from the editorials of Lak Mini Pahana edited by Cumaratunga in the early 1930's one would notice the clarity of thought, effective expression and the substance of sense.

No Sinhala editorials could compare with those of Lak Mini Pahana of the day in these aspects. What was special in Cumaratunga's writing was its terseness.

He possessed the exceptional capability to convey a volume of sense in a few words. This is a quality that students should learn to cultivate by studying Cumaratunga's literature.

The well-known lexicographer, Dr. Harischandra Wijetunga who delivered the main address on 'The Sinhala Alphabet' exposed its glaring inadequacy in the context of current requirements. It causes problems in plain typing, computer typing and in technological uses.

There are some letters in the alphabet which are written in one form but pronounced in another. Yet others are incorrectly written and pronounced. If writers are to comply with modern requirements it would be necessary to add new symbols to the existing letters.

Dr. Wijetunga said that he would not suggest a reduction of letters in the present standard alphabet, nor an increase by adding new letters. He would only propose the development of the existing alphabet by the addition of new symbols to the letters in accord with the requirement. This is one way to get over the difficulties.

He quoted excerpts from a well researched document on the subject he had in hand. He said that he was speaking from experience as a writer and lexicographer. He had faced many difficulties and was making an effort to get over them.

Author and scholar, Piyadasa Hettihewa in his speech quoted from several of Cumaratunga's verse and prose writings and showed that the ideas expressed in them are useful today more than ever before. He reminded that Ananda College has always been in the forefront of Lanka's Nationalist Movement and he was glad of the opportunity given him to address an audience with a considerable number of students and teachers of the institution.

He quoted from short poems 'Ma yana tena', 'Me rate heti', 'Me rate sil', 'Nunuvana', 'Novak siutuvili', 'Jaatiya da aagama da', 'Lak daruveni pubuduvavu', 'Guru viruni, Apa rata rakinu mena' etc. to mention only a few. He analysed these poems to emphasise their value to the present generation of students.

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