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DateLine Wednesday, 17 October 2007

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History comes alive in Colombo as 'Mahathala Hatana' is honoured

Passers-by looked on agog as red-coated soldiers armed with ancient guns and wheeling an antique cannon backed away from their sword, spear and gun wielding toes along a busy Colombo street recently as one and a half centuries seemed to melt away in the early evening sun.

Swadeshi Chairperson Amari Wijewardene receives the award from Ven. Elle Gunawansa.

Many pulled out their mobile phones to capture the epic scene as the Union Jack retreated in the face of the advancing Orange standard with a stylised sun at its centre. In a final act of defiance, the British forces fired a last salvo but the inexorable march of the Sinhala forces did not check.

The scene was the prelude to a unique open air tribute and awards ceremony to honour those responsible for the production and telecast of Mahathala Hatana a 40-episode teledrama serialising the historic Matale uprising of 1848 against British rule.

Telecast by ITN on Sunday evenings, the series directed by Anura Madhawa Jayasekera is sponsored by 'Khomba' herbal soap the flagship brand of the Swadeshi Industrial Works, Sri Lanka's pioneer herbal personal care products company.

Organised by the Sri Lanka Indigenous medical Council and the Sri Lanka Deshabhimani Peramuna, the awards ceremony honoured the director, producer, script writer, telecasting television station and the sponsor of the series.

Awards and certificates were also presented to all artistes involved in the teledrama. The event had powerful patronage, with Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunge gracing the occasion.

Addressing the event which took place at the foot of the giant Buddha statue in front of the BMICH, the Chairman of the Lanka Deshabhimani Peramuna Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera said 'Mahathala Hatana' was being honoured because it is a rare work that brings out and pays tribute to the uniqueness of the Sinhala identity at a time when foreign influences dominate many spheres of activity, including the arts.

Swadeshi Chairperson Ms. Amari Wijewardene who received the award for sponsoring this teledrama said her company had remained faithful and committed to Sri Lankan culture and tradition throughout its history of more than six decades, and had sponsored many teledramas that articulated traditional values and wisdom and paid tribute to the country's rich history.

"Mahathala Hatana" has generated interest in our history and in events that have had a direct effect on the present day situation," she said. "There is very little knowledge among those of the younger generation about our national heroes, and Swadeshi is proud to be able to help address this," Ms Wijewardene added.

"Mahathala Hatana" which will be telecast till March 2008 brings to life historic characters such as Weera Puran Appu, Gongalegoda Banda, and Dingi Rala, who were prominent rebels against colonial rule.


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