Hindu College, Colombo - Temple of learning - Part
Pulling through trying times
In 1954 the Hindu Educational Society raised funds to build an
auditorium for the benefit of the school and also of the Hindu
community. DKS Brothers were invited from India to perform a drama as a
fund raising program. Rs. 83,000.00 was thus raised. Although we may now
wonder whether it is worth talking about such a sum that would have been
a substantial sum those days. With those funds Saraswathie Hall was
built by the HES on a part of the land given on a long lease by the
Trustee of Shri Sammangodar Manicka Vinayagar Temple. The Lorenz Road
front portion of this school premises was the balance portion leased to
the HES by the said Trustee.
As mentioned earlier Colombo Hindu College at Ratmalana was
constructed in the years 1953 to 1955.
To build that, some of the founders had given their personal
guarantees and mortgages. In fact they first purchased a large estate
and blocked them into lots. Having sold some of the lots they took away
the burden of the costs of the land. It shows what a sacrifice they were
making for their dream to come true and at the same time they used their
business acumen for a social benefit. As stated earlier, the upper
classes at Bambalapitiya were transferred to Ratmalana in 1955.
In 1958, the school had severe set backs. One was the demise of
Justice C. Nagalingam who was the Manager of the school (in the previous
year one of the founders and ardent supporters of the school, the
philanthropist S. Mahadevan had passed away), the other being the
communal riots in that year (1958).
Sivamani Sir Kanthiah Vaithianathan who was a well respected Civil
Servant who functioned as the Permanent Secretary and the construction
of the first flats - Bambalapitiya Flats - is his brainchild, became the
Manager of the school in 1959. In 1962 the school was vested in the
New shape and life
It was during the period of service of S. Ambalavanar, the idea of
making this school to serve the needs of Hindus on a par with the
Colombo Hindu College at Ratmalana took shape.
In 1967, under the stewardship of P. Nalliah, the then Principal,
Grade six was started and the school was raised to the status of a
junior school. The two institutions which were functioning as one body,
began to function as two separate entities from that date.
P. Nalliah gave a new shape and life for the school.
First ever sports meet was held on March 31,1968. First ever prize
giving was held on March 28, 1969 with Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake
as the Chief Guest.
After the retirement of P. Nalliah in 1970, T. Sangaralingam took
over the Principalship of the school from February 1971.
In the N.C.G.E. Examination held for the first time in 1975, ‘76 out
of ‘97 students from the school qualified to follow H.N.C.E. classes.
This was considered a great achievement. Consequent to this, the school
was given the privilege of starting the H.N.C.E. Classes [equivalent to
the present GCE (A/L)] from 3rd April 1976.
In July 1972, Dr. P. Udagama, Secretary of the Ministry of Education,
participating as the Chief Guest at the Prize Giving said - “Hindu
College has been an example not only for the schools in Colombo but also
for the other schools in this country.
It is not only the principal and the staff of the school but Parents
Association takes keen interest in developing this school - it is really
a pleasant surprise.”
In 1975, the colour of the school flag was changed to amber and gold.
Dream of dreamers
These are the words of wisdom expressed in the Administration Report
written in 1954 by the late S. Mahadevan (then Secretary):-
“Though we have done a great deal so far with very limited resources
the task ahead is of a colossal nature.
Much more determination and courage on the part of the Hindu public
is needed for the fulfillment of the task and the Board of Governors is
not without hope that the philanthropists will yet arise in our midst to
give concrete form and shape to what has been characterised as the
‘Dream of Dreamers’.
This College has played a significant and unique role in the life of
our community in Colombo. Whether it is a glorious moment or time of
crisis it was the place for our people to turn to.
It had given shelter to those who flocked to it during periods of
troubles and given accommodation for students to those who were
displaced from their areas. By this ancillary role this temple of
learning has been a haven for us in the Metropolis.
Although the Founder Society thought it prudent not to resist the
vesting of this school in the Government in 1962, the Parent-Teachers
Association and the School Development Society of which some members
have been those of the Founder Society continued to develop this
While this school served as a centre in many respects for our
community even after it became a government school, our community also
reciprocated by nurturing the school.
Thus it remained our school for all of us. Parents, well wishers, old
boys and teachers made their contributions through the School
Development Society and also through School Development Board and the
School Development Trust.
The dream of the dreamers was maintained as a reality due to the
efforts of a number of dedicated parents and well-wishers who worked
tirelessly with the principals to take their sc
The trend set by the forerunners in the PTA and SDS put their
successors on the correct track and we owe a duty to remember those
great sincere and devoted leaders of our Society. To mention a few names
the late K. Visvalingam, Dr K. Velayuthapillai, S. K. Mahesan and S.
Patkunam, the latter functioned as the Vice Principal for several years
and also as Acting Principal.
He was the live wire of the activities of the school and worked as a
catalyst to encourage the parents and the Old Boys’ Association to take
an active role.
In early seventies, K. S. Mahesan had functioned as the Secretary of
the Parent-Teacher Association which later became the School Development
Society (SDS). K. Sivagananathan (well known Banker), Barrister-at-Law
K. Nadarajah, Mr. and Mrs. S. Gulasingham, P. Kathiravelu, Prof P.
Poologasingham, E. Ratnam, P. Kathiravelu, Mr. and Mrs. V. Kailasapillai,
V. Ratnasabapathy (who later became Principal of Sri Lanka Law College)
were some of the stalwarts of the SDS. I have already mentioned K.
Viswalingam’s role. M. Arunasalam (an officer of the Ministry of
Industries), T. Kandasamy who was an officer of the Education
Department, K. Ramanathan (of Buildings Department), S. Tharmarajah (of
Mascons Limited), and M. Balasubramaniam (Customs Officer), had
performed the onerous task of the Secretary of the SDS those days.
Balasubramaniam was succeeded by A. P. Gnanasundaram in June 1986. In
June 1987 I had to take the responsibility as the Secretary of the SDS.
Having continued in that position for three years I had to carry the
same responsibility for another spell of three years after taking a
break of five months in 1990.
The 1983 communal riots caused a temporary set-back to this school.
However, due to the courage exhibited in action by the then Principal,
T. Sankaralingam with the able assistance of his deputy S. Patkunam,
whose efficiency was at par excellence in the time of crisis helped a
number of refugees who took shelter in the school.
Dr K. Velauthapillai and A. Visvalingam who were two lieutenants of
the SDS are the two names still remembered by those who suffered in time
of crisis. Arrangements were made to conduct classes temporarily at
School at Bambalapitya for about 400 students who remained in Colombo
with 27 teachers who were available. Classes up to 8th standard were
held at that school. Arrangements were made to have other classes at
Isipathana Maha Vidyalaya. Patkunam worked tirelessly to make those
temporary arrangements. In January 1984, the school restarted to work as
normal but with about 300 which number arose to 1,000 in a few months
and it was the next year 1985 when I began my association with this
school as my eldest son had just been admitted.
In June 1985, T. Sangaralingam who was really disappointed with and
disgusted by the consequences of the unfortunate communal riots of 1983
went abroad on leave and thereafter retired after serving the school as
its principal for several years. T. Sangaralingam is always commended
for his services in developing this school.