Pandit W D Amaradeva is an iconic musician produced in Sri Lanka. His
contribution to the local music is incomparable which spans nearly six
Father daughter duet – Subhani singing with Pandit Amaradeva.
Pictures by Nissanka Wijeratne
Amaradeva was born in Moratuwa, originally named Wannakuwatta
Mitiwaduge Don Albert Perera on December 5, 1927. Music was his
inspiration since a small age. His parents were very fond of music,
though professionally they were carpenters. Amaradeva was introduced to
music by his father who crafted and repaired violins at Moratumulla Wadu
Karmika Vidyalaya. His mother loved singing hymns.
Young Amaradeva was influenced by the background. His father
presented a violin to him on his seventh birthday. It was the starting
point of his brilliant and remarkable music career.
Pandith Amaradeva started his career at Radio Ceylon and had the
chance to enter Bhathkande Music Institute in Lucknow, India. He
followed Indian music styles there and tuned back to Sri Lanka as Pandit
Wannakuwatta Mitiwaduge Don Amaradeva. The name Amaradeva which
translates as 'immortal god' was given to him by Prof Ediriweera
Sarachchandra. Today, he is known as Amaradeva by everyone.
He primarily plays instruments like sitar, tabla and harmonium. He
incorporates Sinhala folk music into Indian ragas in his work, removing
traditional restrictions that had existed earlier. He created a unique
Sinhala music style that stayed true to folk tradition while
incorporating outside influences. His contribution is remarkable in
creating Sinhala sarala gee genre, practiced subsequently by many
artistes such as Victor Ratnayake, Sunil Edirisinghe and Sanath
Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara appreciated the outstanding musician
and he thanked India emphasizing the fact that the relations between
India and Sri Lanka are vital in every manner.
Indian High Commissioner Ashok K Kantha presenting the memorial
plaque to Pandit Amaradeva while Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara
(second left), Wimala Amaradeva, Minister Sarath Amunugama and
Minister G L Pieris look on
Indian High Commissioner Ashok K Kantha also addressed the audience
in an emotional way stating that they are proud to felicitate this
towering figure in music. He mentioned it is an important moment which
would help increase the cultural affinity between two countries.
External Affairs Minister G L Peiris mentioned that Pandit Amaradeva
is the greatest musician in the country.
"Pandit Amaradeva's song Mage Deshaya Avadi Karanu Mena is ideally
appropriate to Sri Lanka at the moment since we now rediscover our own
values," the minister added.
The High Commissioner presented a memorial plaque to Pandit Amaradeva.
Distinguished invitees such as Professors K N O Dharmadasa, Carlo
Fonseka, Ashley Halpe and President's Secretary Lalith Weeratunga also
graced the event.