grateful Sri Lanka today says hail and farewell and a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to one of our greatest prelates, the Venerable Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera who played a courageous and vital role in the campaign to rebuild a just society based on noble values and virtues such as good governance and democracy, honesty and integrity and a deep respect for diversity and plurality.
At historic moments like these, when golden memories are mixed with silver tears, we recall the immortal words of a Bard of Sri Lanka. In 1905, Walter Stanley Senior wrote; “I climbed o’er the crags of Lanka, And gazed on her golden sea, And out from her ancient places, Her soul came forth to me, Give me a Bard, said Lanka, My Bard of the things to be. For high in my highland valleys, And low in my lowland plains, The pride of the past is pulsing, Hot in a people’s veins, Give me a bard, said Lanka, A bard for my joys and pains.
But most shall he sing of Lanka, In the bright new days that come, When the races all have blended, And the voice of strife is dumb, When we leap to a single bugle, March to a single drum. Hark! Bard of the fateful future, Hark! Bard of the bright to be; A voice on the verdant mountains, A voice by the golden sea, Rise, child of Lanka, and answer, Thy mother hath called to thee”
Indeed as we say goodbye to the widely respected Sobitha hamuduruwo, with a State funeral and a day of national mourning today, Mother Lanka calls to all of us to come together in rebuilding a country where there is social justice and a liberative spirituality where people rise beyond selfishness, greed and hypocrisy.
During the past four days, hundreds of thousands of people - the young and the old, the impoverished and the rich – came to Kotte’s Naga Viharaya to say thank you to Sobitha hamuduruwo. President Maithripala Sirisena - sincerely conscious of his debt of gratitude to the prelate who opened the door for him to come to the highest office – fell prostrate before the mortal remains of the prelate, when the Head of State came to pay his respects on Monday night.
Another notable feature was that thousands of people of all races and religions also came to say a sincere thank you to Sobitha hamuduruwo. Their heartfelt gratitude and precious thoughts were reflected in the spiritual bouquets offered to Sobitha hamuduruwo by the leaders of all religions and ethnic communities. Indeed people and leaders of the Tamil, Muslim and Christian communities were also moved to tears when they paid glowing tributes to the prelate who gave selfless and sacrificial leadership to one of our greatest liberation struggles and the silent, peaceful people’s revolution of January 8.
As Sobitha hamuduruwo is cremated at the Parliamentary grounds - the first time a national leader is given this honour in the grounds of Sri Lanka’s supreme legislative assembly – the people and the new National Government need to be aware this is not the end of a chapter but a trumpet call to continue the journey we started with Sobitha hamaduruwo on January 8 to rebuild a new Sri Lanka.
The Jathika Hela Urumaya’s parliamentary front-liner, the Venerable Athuraliye Rathana Thera - now playing a key role in vital social justice issues - said in a television interview on Tuesday that the passing away of Sobitha hamuduruwo did not mean the end of a journey. The Venerable Athuraliye Rathana Thera pledged that he and the National Unity Government would give their highest honour to Sobitha hamuduruwo by continuing with deeper commitment the journey towards the stabilization of good governance and democracy, social justice, transparency and accountability an independent judiciary and police service. Indeed then shall we sing of thee, Dear Mother Lanka, in the brave new days to come when the races and religions have blended and the voice of strife, selfishness or greed is dumb. Listen, people of goodwill, thy mother calls to be.