TRIBUTES | Sunday Observer


D. H. Jayaindra Fernando

Always sided with the underdog

A remembrance of my grandfather (D.H. Jayaindra Fernando) cannot be written without the mention of his greatest love; building and construction. The oldest son of Jason Fernando, he hailed from a family dedicated to the construction industry in Sri Lanka. He was the driving force behind many constructions projects in Sri Lanka, such as the original Savoy cinema and Mount Lavinia Hotel, however his greatest achievement was truly a monument of love.

He spent many months travelling to Kandy, to supervise the building of the Kandy Market which was inaugurated on the 23rd of September 1959 under the auspices of the late S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike. The constant visit to Kandy to the building site of the Kandy Market was also fueled by the presence of Devika Perera, an undergraduate at the University of Peradeniya at the time, my grandfather’s greatest inspiration. They were subsequently married in January 1960, and were the proud parents of Deepa Wijetunge (nee Fernando) and Sajit Fernando.

Jayaindra was a man of many talents; he was an artist, with the ability to design jewelry and produce beautiful drawings of trees endemic to Sri Lanka.

He was also a very talented cook; I still recall vivid memories of how we would all gather in his kitchen every Friday after school, to assist him with his latest Chinese culinary dishes, however this task did not include cleaning up thereafter, a task which always fell to my grandmother. A great lover of good food, he would always take the whole family to any new restaurant that opened in Colombo, attempting to improve and recreate the dish subsequently.

He was always generous with his family and friends equally, lending a helping hand in any crisis, with any form of help needed. He was a dutiful son to his parents, as well as a pillar of strength of all his siblings.

My grandfather was a pious Buddhist, and I am always proud of see tables donated by him and built by Rovim Concrete Works Ltd. (where he was Chairman) at various temples throughout Sri Lanka. He was true follower of the Dhamma.

Seeya, I feel truly blessed to have been able to spend 29 years of my life with you, and I hope I will always remember and follow the principles of life you taught me.

I feel privileged to have learnt our family history from you, and will always cherish the many chats we had over all those years.

I miss you every day!

Until we meet again in Sansara.

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” - Thomas Campbell

- Janani Wijetunge Palihakkara (Granddaughter)

‘Kurulu Kaiya’ for environmental sustainability


Kaiya’ in Sinhala means “gathering of people for co-operative work to achieve a common goal”. Thus ‘Kurulu Kaiya’ is a gathering aimed at promoting environmental responsibility through the celebration of the wonder of birds. ‘Kurulu Kaiya’ is organised by the ‘Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka’ (FOGSL) which is affiliated with the Dept. of Zoology of the University of Colombo and is the local representative of BirdLife International which is the most wide-spread environmental organization in the world.

The venue for this event is ‘Diyasaru Park’ at Thalawathugoda which spreads over 60 acres on Kotte marshes, with over 50 species of birds including a number of migratory birds. The wetland biodiversity of the park also includes butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles and fish. FOGSL organized many interesting activities on the 16th and 17th December 2017, including nature walks for kids and adults along the trails of the ‘Diyasaru Park’, to observe wetland biodiversity. The Philatelic Bureau also launched a first day cover depicting four endemic birds of Sri Lanka.

Studies demonstrate that wetland areas and quality continue to decline in most regions of the world. As a result, the ecosystem services that wetlands provide to people are compromised. Therefore it is important to promote awareness on their importance and thereby help conserve our environment. Protecting wetlands can protect our safety and welfare.

It is with this focus that veteran ornithologist and President of FOGSL Prof Sarath Kotagama, initiated this event. FOGSL has also initiated a project to conserve urban wetlands by utilising birds as an umbrella group.

In line with this, FOGSL also held the 18th P B Karunaratne Memorial Bird Educational Exhibition on the 14th & 15th December 2017 at the Zoology Seminar Room, University of Colombo.

This exhibition with the theme of ‘Wetlands’ provided information on wetlands and the ecology of birds including endemic species. Prof Kotagama also launched his book “Birds of Sri Lanka an Illustrated Guide” on 14th December 2017 at this Exhibition amidst a gathering of eminent personalities including the Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, IUCN Country Representative and foreign bird enthusiasts. This book which is an updated version of Prof Kotagama’s initial book, will be a useful resource for ornithologists and also for amateur bird watchers. The book describes all 501 species recorded to date in Sri Lanka and is illustrated in colour. Speaking at the book launch Prof Kotagama said that “The number of endemic birds has been debated in the past, however it is now confirmed as 33 and could be even higher in the future”.

Prof Kotagama believes that observing and keeping a record of birds is very important since birds are good indicators of environmental changes.

For example, an increase of crows would indicate a polluted environment and an increase of birds such as the ‘sunbird’ would indicate an environment of good quality.