Piyathuma’- 103 years old
Susitha R. Fernando
"Religion is for belief. What we believe is our religion. Religion
is based on morality and precepts. It is by practicing religion
that one can lead a good life. Nobody can definitely say my religion
is the only true religion and the others are false,"
was what Kalasoory Rev. Fr. Mercelline Jayakody told when he was
interviewed by Pandit Ven. Ittepana Dhammalokara Thera to write
a book about the catholic priest, who brought a whole change and
got the lead in inculturating certain areas of traditional church
and incarnating Christianity in Sri Lankan Culture.
in, Godella, Dankotuwa, a predominantly Buddhist rural village close
to Little Rome, Negombo, Fr. Jayakody was one the few Sri Lankans
who won the Magsayse Award which is also called as the Asian Noble
1983 Fr. Jayakody was awarded this prize for his service to the
print media and his creative talent showed in mass-communication.
A gifted writer, an awarded poet and lyricist and talented musician,
Fr. Jayakody's 103rd birth anniversary was held at his birthplace
Dankotuwa on June 3.
was attended by the Ministers from both Cultural Affairs and Christian
Affairs along with school children in the area.
in June 03, 1902 to a Catholic parents - Jayakody Aracchige Joseph,
an Ayurvedic doctor-a Vedarala and mother Josephen Senaratne, who
was a convert, Fr. Jayakody as a child was never fed from the silver
spoon. Unlike western medical practitioners Fr. Jayakody's father
never treated patients, who came to him for money. And he accepted
whatever he was offered wrapped in a beetle leave as gratitude after
any long drawn treatment.
of a father who never got a regular income Fr. Jayakody's childhood
was full of difficulties. But one benefit from his father's profession
was that this imaginative son had access to all kinds of Sinhala,
Pali and Sanskrit books which his father used to learn 'Vedakama'.
It was these books that laid the foundation to foster the Sinhalese
poet and the writer in little Jayakody.
Clad in a white robe with black belt and a bronze cross, hung with
a black string Rev, Fr. Marceline Jaykody's OMI (Oblate of Mary
Immaculate) marked his name as one of the leading poets in 'Kolamba
Yugaya' Colombo Period. In 1950s it was unusual that a priest from
the Catholic Church, a religion hailing from English speaking Europe
generating a leading Sinhala poet.
Jayakody was the first and the only Catholic priest who held the
post of Presidency of the Sinhala Kavi Sammelanaya (Sinhala Poets
League) and held it for seven years. His outstanding talent to write
Sinhala poems with simple and easy with depth was honoured with
‘Kavya Shasthra Shiromini’ award given by the Vidyalankara
Pirivena, ‘Kavya Mahopada Sammanaya’ by Sinhala Kavi
Sammelanaya and 'Ranpiuma Award' (Golden Lotus) award given by Lanka
only did he write hymns and carols, lullabies and songs about the
beauty about the country for films but also he wrote Vesak and Poson
Bakthi Geetha which attracted both Buddhists and Catholics. Not
only for Sinhala poetry and literature but Fr. Jayakody's contribution
to Sri Lankan cinema also was remarkable.
breakaway film from stereotyped South Indian carbon copies or the
first revolution in Sri Lankan cinema, Dr. Lester James Peries's
'Rekhawa' was coloured by Fr. Jayakody's songs. ‘Olu Nerum
Neriya Rangala’ ,’Vesak Kekulu Athu Aga Hinda’
and ‘Sundu Sanda Eliye’ written in 1956 and sung by
Indrani Wijebandara and Sisira Senaratne are still popular in the
history of Sinhala song culture.
writes about a priest-Pansale Piyathuma
At a time of chaos and confusion over religious identity, Fr. Jayakody's
example of a priest born in a Buddhist country and the religious
harmony he preached was to be honoured and appreciated.
by Buddhists in this country just as the Catholics, Fr. Jayakody
stands as the only Catholic priest about whom a book is written
by a Buddhist monk. Out of several books written about Fr. Jayakody,
the biography written by Ven. Ittepana Dhammaloka Thero is considered
as the most remarkable book. According to Fr. Jayakody this was
a world record as it was the first ever book written by a monk about
a Catholic priest. The title for this book was ‘Malpale Upan
Pansale Piyathuma’(Priest of the temple born in 'Malpele'.
('Malapele' was the name given by the villagers to Fr. Jaykody's
family home in Dankotuwa. This was because his mother was a garden
enthusiastic and her garden was full of flowers.)
won the Magsayse award Fr. Jayakody was invited to felicitate by
Mahinda College, Galle. Impressed by his speech on religious harmony,
one of the attendees had remarked, "We thought the Catholic
priests are a set of people who have their faces to Europe and their
backs to Sri Lanka. But by listening to you we realised it was not
Netha Yana Thena Veherak Peniyan
Veherak Nethi Thena Veherak Theniyan
In Ena Pamovudaya Nuwanata Deniyan
Dutu Dutu Vita Sitha Thula Sil Gamiyan’
(Whereever you look you may see a temple, If there is no temple
there may they build a temple, The lesson which comes from it may
go the heart, Whenever we see peace may fill our heart).