Malwana is one of 18 villages of Buhary Thakiya. Beruwela. (Nabaviyathul Qadiriya Tharika). In Malwana there live Muslims and Sinhalese in equal amount. It is a town of 35,000 (estimate as of 2001) inhabitants in the Western Province of Sri Lanka. It is situated on the banks of the Keleni River, 14 km north-west of Colombo. It is part of the Gampaha District and Biyagama electoral division. Malwana forms part of the Biyagama free-trade zone, where government incentives has drawn investors from around the world into manufacturing ventures involving clothing and light industry.[i]
1915 riot against Muslims in Ceylon, during the time of British Ruling and 1st world war. Bring to mind an episode by Mohamed, which was taken place in Colombo. This experience was narrated to him by his Grandpa.
My Grandparents were residing at Maradana Colombo, where they had Sinhalese and Muslim Neighbors. During the riot days my grandpa’s house was occupied with most of his Muslim neighbors and their servants (most of the servants were Sinhalese girls), as his house had enough space. They have gathered there for shield.
His next door lived a Sinhalese family who were aware that crowd of other Muslim neighbors as well inside the house.
The next door Sinhalese family had assured him that they will look out every thing and asked to keep the Doors and Windows locked and to pretend there was no one in the house.
Next day morning they heard turmoil out side the house that a group of rioters were trying to break the house. At once they heard a voice that was neighbors. Who’ve said “it’s a Sinhalese people’s house, they have gone out station and she is in charge of this house” then that group had left the place.
Later they have found that rioters were not from Colombo they were from Wanawasala.
When he gets a released from this shock, another problem had occurred. His wife was expecting and it was time for her Delivery. But there were no one in the house who was experienced in Midwife work.
He didn’t have any other options; he had left the house on searching for a Midwife. It was not a time to leave the house.
While he was walking along the Maradana Main road, he had seen that Henry Pedirick was leading a crowd on a horse back. And many Muslim dead bodies of Men and Women and he had witnessed group of rioters were looting the shops.
Suddenly some one had held his hand from behind and spoke to him in a surprised, why he was here at this time. He had asked “Mudalaaly, where are you going at this time, are you crazy to come out at the time like this” He was a Sinhalese person known to him. Then Grandpa had taken him to a corner and described the situation. Then he had told that it will be a difficult task to get a midwife at this hour, he had assured that he will try his level best. When they go on searching on the way they have found a woman who was capable of handling this work. At that time she was busy with looting.
This Sinhalese guy had gone near to her and asked her to attain the matter, and had assured that she’ll get a big sum. But she was not told that she was going to attend a Muslim family.
At the same time the Sinhalese guy had told grandpa not to let her know that he is a Muslim till reach home. He thanked him and went with the Woman.
When she was entering she found that it was a Muslim house. She wanted to scream. Grandpa had taken a knife and threatens her not to fuss over, he had asked to attend the matter with good care, he’ll allow to go. She had attended the matter, a baby boy born.
After completing her work she wanted to leave the place, but Grandpa had not allowed her, as it will be very dangerous. She was asked to stay without any harm, till the situation calm down.
The Riot had continued for three days without any law and order. British had to bring another troops to control the situation. This situation finally controlled with the help of a foreign troops.
After three days the woman was allowed to go without any harm and with a big sum.
Muslims had been in Ceylon since the eighth century, a composite group of Arabs, Persians and Muslimized Indians who came to be known as Ceylon Moors. The most recent arrivals, Indian Moors from Cochin and Malabar coast labeled ‘Coast Moors’, earned an undesirable reputation among Sinhalese while the older order of Ceylon Moors lived at peace among the Sinhalese, even attaining the status of headmen in some Kandyan villages. The charges against the Coast Moors were that they were unscrupulous, alien (some compared them to Jews; others, in 1915, to Germans), and they loaned money at usurious rates. De Souza notes that before the 1915 riots, Sinhalese had boycotted Coast Moormen’s boutiques (general merchandise shops and food counters) as a warning to them to desist from attempting to seduce Sinhalese girls. He also noted that the buying public of Ceylon blamed the Coast Moors for creating artificial increases in the prices of necessities….”
“…The riots sprang from the religious fanaticism of a small section of the Muslims known as the Hambayas, who insisted that all non-Muslim religious processions should proceed in silence when they passed their mosques. The Hambayas were Mohammedan immigrants from the East Coast of South India and then numbered nearly thirty three thousand. They formed an exclusive community and did not at that time intermarry with other Mohammedans in the island.
The time for the celebration of the great Buddhist festival – the anniversary of the birthday of Buddha – fell on the 28th of May, 1915. With much trepidation of heart, those who had hitherto conducted the carol procession in Kandy applied to the Government Agent, Central Province, for the usual licence, but the Hambayas of Kandy, who owned the mosque at Castle Hill Street, objected to its issue. The elected members of the Municipal Council unanimously recommended the issue of the licence. The Government Agent, having ascertained from the trustees of the Castle Hill street mosque that the hour for closing it on Friday, the 28th May, was twelve midnight, issued the licence subject to the condition that the procession should not enter Castle Hill Street before midnight.
He, however, neglected to take the precaution, suggested by the District Judge of Kandy in the Walahagoda Devale case, of having the aggressive Hambayas bound over to keep the peace. He also failed, as the head of the police in the Central Province, to have a sufficient number of properly armed police officers and constables in the streets of Kandy, so as to prevent any sudden outbreak of riot.
It was about 1 am, when the first carol procession with a band of musicians in a decorated cart turned from King Street into Castle Hill Street. The Sinhalese crowd were amazed to see the Hambayas’ mosque open and lit up, and a crowd of Mohammedans, including Afghans, standing on either side of the street. Inspector Cooray, observing from the junction of King Street the defiant attitude of the Mohammedans, desired the carol party not to go forward, but to pass into a cross street so as to avoid the mosque altogether. The conductors of the procession obediently turned the carol cart into the street indicated.
Just then the Hambayas and the Afghans clapped hands, jeered and boohed, which was more than the Sinhalese could bear. They halted indecisively, looking towards the mosque, when a still larger crowd, headed by another party of carol-singers in a second cart, came and entered Castle Hill Street. The first party then followed the second party.
As they advanced, a number of stones and empty bottles fell on the people, hurled from the upper storeys of two boutiques near the mosque and from the platform of the mosque. The Sinhalese crowd were infuriated. They rushed forward, picked up the stones lying on the street, pelted them at the boutiques and the mosque, chased the Mohammedans, who fled into the mosque, pulled down its iron bars and smashed its glass panes, broke into the adjoining boutiques and flung into the streets the boxes of grain and groceries.
During all this disturbance, there were no more than one Inspector and six constables, who, of course, could not control the crowd. Mr.Cooray sent for help from the Police Station, and a squad of police who arrived seized about twenty-five men on charges of riot and house-breaking. The surging crowd passed into other streets about 2 pm and disappeared with their battered cars. Thus ended the national Wesak festival of the Buddhists in 1915, undertaken in all piety and reverence to celebrate the birthday of the great peace-maker, named Goutama Buddha….
To outline the true dimensions of the disturbances in Kandy town, the first riot occurred between 1 and 2 on the morning of the 29th May 1915, in consequence of the intolerance and aggression of the Hambayas and Afghan Mohammedans assembled in and about the mosque in Castle Hill Street. No lives were lost, nor any serious bodily injury inflicted. Some boutiques were damaged and their contents turned out, which were mostly made a bonfire of in the streets, and the glass shutters of the mosque and some iron bars were also damaged.
The second riot took place between 8 and 10 pm on the same day (29th May) provoked directly by the failure of the police to arrest the murderer of an innocent Sinhalese youth, whom a Hambaya brought down with a bullet from a revolver fired from the upper storey of his master’s shop. No other persons were killed. Some shops and boutiques were damaged, and their contents thrown into the streets to be burnt.
When a baby is taken from the wet nurse,
it easily forgets her
and starts eating solid food.
Seeds feed awhile on ground,
then lift up into the sun.
So you should taste the filtered light
and work your way toward wisdom
with no personal covering.
That’s how you came here, like a star
without a name. Move across the night sky
with those anonymous lights.
(Mathnawi III, 1284-1288)
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (Sinhalese: , Tamil: இலங்கை; known as Ceylon before 1972) is an island nation in South Asia, located about 31 kilometres (19.3 mi) off the southern coast of India. Popularly referred to as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, it is home to around twenty million people.
Due to its location in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia, and has been a center of Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times. Today, the country is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation, with nearly a third of the population following faiths other than Buddhism, notably Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The Sinhalese community forms the majority of the population, with Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, forming the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include the Muslim Moors and Malays and the Burghers.
Famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, rubber and coconuts, Sri Lanka boasts a progressive and modern industrial economy and the highest per capita income in South Asia. The natural beauty of Sri Lanka’s tropical forests, beaches and landscape, as well as its rich cultural heritage, make it a world famous tourist destination.
After over two thousand years of rule by local kingdoms, parts of Sri Lanka were colonized by Portugal and the Netherlands beginning in the 16th century, before the control of the entire country was ceded to the British Empire in 1815. During World War II, Sri Lanka served as an important base for Allied forces in the fight against the Japanese Empire. A nationalist political movement arose in the country in the early 20th century with the aim of obtaining political independence, which was eventually granted by the British after peaceful negotiations in 1948.