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June 12, 2017
Devi Balika Past Pupils' Malpahan Poojava: Founder's Day
Photographs by Karunaseeli Somasiri

The opening event of the Devi Balika Past Pupils Association (UK), now in its twenty sixth year, was on Saturday 3rd June at the London Buddhist Vihara. As is traditional, a malpahan poojava to remember their founding Principal, Deshabandu Dr Mrs Wimala de Silva was organised. Dr Harshi Boralessa, reminded the friends and well-wishers of the 'old Devians' of the significance of the event.

There was a sad departure from the norm this year as the Association remembered the passing away of Mrs Venetia Gamage, the founding teacher of the PPA in UK. Mrs Gamage had proposed that an Association be formed during her visit to the UK. She had been a keen observer and a source of inspiration and support to the 'old girls' across the miles. The recent sudden loss of a much loved Vice-Principal, Mrs Lakshmi Senanayake was also remembered with great sadness. The Venerable Seelawimala, head priest of the Vihara, started off the ceremony highlighting Dr Mrs de Silva's stature, not only as a Principal of the leading girls school, but also nationally which led to the Sri Lankan President awarding the title deshabandu. The malpahan poojava (offering of flowers and light) led by Venerable Bandula was followed by pirith chanting. Offerings were made with real devotion by girls whose lives had been influenced by their dedicated teachers.

President of the PPA, Dr Malathie Peiris re-iterated Devi Balika's consistent performance in the last decade as a leading girls school in the island. The heterogeneity of the girls entering the school through an island-wide scholarship exam, initially from ordinary level onwards but now from grade 6, was homogenised in their excellence academically. The tribute written by the oldest Devian in the UK, Mrs Indrani Peries, reminded us of Dr Mrs de Silva's personal qualities which soon established the reputation of the school which started off as the Government Girls' College in 1953 and was re-named Devi Balika.

Then Venerable Ariyaratne gave a short sermon highlighting the importance of teachers. As we all know, the teacher-pupil relationship and bond is of paramount importance in the learning process. Then it was time to translate our good thoughts and meritorious deeds to the founding Principal and to our teachers who departed recently.

Venerable Seelawimala concluded the event by assuring the 'old Devians' that they had performed their duties to their teachers. Everyone was invited to tea and refreshments thoughtfully prepared by the 'old Devians' and there was more space and time to reflect on the past and strengthen new ties across the age groups.

Dr Shihan de Silva, Devi Balika PPA (UK)
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