Sri Lanka Matha

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Sri Lanka Matha
ශ්‍රී ලංකා මාතා
ஸ்ரீ லங்கா தாயே
Emblem of Sri Lanka.svg
Emblem of Sri Lanka

National anthem of  Sri Lanka
Lyrics Ananda Samarakoon (1940, Influenced by Rabindranath Tagore) [1][2][3]
Music Ananda Samarakoon (1940, Influenced by Rabindranath Tagore) [1][2][3][1][2][3]
Adopted 1951
Music sample

Mother Sri Lanka (Sinhalese: ශ්‍රී ලංකා මාතා Sri Lanka Matha; Tamil: ஸ்ரீ லங்கா தாயே Sri Laṅkā Tāyē) is the national anthem of Sri Lanka.


There are differing accounts as to the origin of the Sri Lanka Matha. According to K. M. de Silva, Howard Wriggins, The Times of India and IBN Live, Ananda Samarakoon was inspired by Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.[4][5][6] Rupavahini, Sunil Ariyaratne and R. K. Radhakrishnan state that Samarakoon returned to Ceylon from India around 1938 and wrote Namo Namo Mata in October 1940, whilst teaching at Mahinda College, inspired by his learning under Tagore.[1][7][source needs translation][2][source needs translation][3][8][9] According to Sumana Saparamadu, Samarakoon had been asked to write a patriotic song by the Chief Inspector of Schools for the Southern Province T. D. Jayasuriya.[8] Nayomini R. Weerasooriya says Tagore helped Samarakoon write and compose the song.[10]However, according to Bengali journalists Haroon Habib and Junaidul Haque, Tagore wrote the music and lyrics for Nama Nama Sri Lanka Mata in 1938 in the Bengali language for his student Samarakoon.[11][12] According to them, Samarakoon then returned to Ceylon in 1940 and translated Tagore's song into the Sinhala language Apa Sri Lanka, Namo Namo Namo Namo Matha, Sundar Sri Boroni.[11][12] After the song was sung by the choir from Musaeus College at a public event it became hugely popular in Ceylon and was widely played on radio.[13]

Ceylon achieved independence from Britain in 1948.[4] As the first National Anthem of sri lanka, “sri lanka matha, pala yasa mahima, jaya jaya siri lesa jala dhara- giripela” written by P.B Elangasinghe was selected from a competition on 31 January 1948. And it was used on the first Indipendance celibration of Sri lanka.[14]

In 1950 Minister of Finance J. R. Jayewardene requested that the government recognise Samarakoon's Namo Namo Matha as the official national anthem.[13] The government appointed a committee headed by Edwin Wijeyeratne, Minister of Home Affairs and Rural Development, to pick a new national anthem.[4] The committee heard several songs but, after much deliberation, picked Namo Namo Matha.[12][4][13] The committee made a minor change to Samarakoon's song, with his apprival, changing the tenth line from "Nawajeewana Damine" to "Nawa Jeewana Demine Nithina Apapupudu Karan Matha".[13] The committee's decision was endorsed by the government on 22 November 1951.[4][15] The anthem was translated into the Tamil language by M. Nallathamby.[13][16][17] The first independence day it was sung was in 1952.[13][18]

In the late 1950s controversy arose over first line of the anthem, "Namo Namo Matha, Apa Sri Lanka".[13][19] It was deemed to be "unlucky" and blamed for the country's misfortunes including the deaths of two prime ministers.[19] In February 1961 the government changed the line to their present form, "Sri Lanka Matha, Apa Sri Lanka", despite Samarakoon's strong opposition.[13][16] Samarakoon committed suicide in April 1962, leaving a note complaining that his anthem had been mutilated.[13]

The Second Republican Constitution of 1978 gave Sri Lanka Matha constitutional recognition.[20]


The Sri Lankan national anthem is one of a number that are sung in more than one language: Belgium (French, Dutch and German), Canada (English, French and Inuktitut), New Zealand (English and Māori), South Africa (Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English), Suriname (Dutch and Sranan Tongo) and Switzerland (German, French, Italian and Romansh).[17]

The Tamil version is an exact translation of the Sinhala version, with the same tune, and has existed since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948.[21] The majority of Sri Lankans (around 75%) speak the Sinhala language and the Sinhala version is mainly used in Sri Lanka for public and private events and is the only version used during international sports and other events.[17] Although the Sinhala version of the anthem is used at official/state events, the Tamil translation is also sung at some events.[16] The Tamil translation is used at official events held in the Tamil speaking regions in the North and East of Sri Lanka.[16][17] The Tamil translation is sung at Tamil medium schools throughout the country.[16][17] The Tamil translation was even used during the period when Sinhala was the only official language of the country (1956–87).[16][17] The Tamil language version has been used in the 1st independnece annivesary in 1949.[22][21]

Tamil version controversy[edit]

On 12 December 2010 The Sunday Times reported that the Cabinet of Sri Lanka headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa had taken the decision to scrap the Tamil translation of Sri Lanka Matha at official and state functions, as "in no other country was the national anthem used in more than one language" - even though the national anthems of Canada, South Africa and those of several other countries have more than one language version.[23] The Cabinet's decision had followed a paper on the national flag and national anthem produced by Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister W. D. J. Senewiratne.[16][24] The paper had drawn on the Singaporean model where the national anthem is sung in the official lyrics and not any translation of the lyrics.[16] Based on this the paper recommended that the Sri Lankan national anthem only be sung in Sinhala and the Tamil translation be abolished.[16] The paper's authors had failed to realise that the official lyrics of the Singaporean national anthem are in Malay, a minority language (75% of Singaporeans are Chinese).[25]

Government minister Wimal Weerawansa had labelled the Tamil version a "joke" on Derana TV, and had cited India as an analogy.[26][27][28] Some journalists, such as D. B. S. Jeyaraj,[16] claimed that it was wrong of Weerawansa to cite India as an analogy because according to them the Indian national anthem was not in Hindi, which is the most widely spoken language of India, but in Bengali, a minority language.[29][30][31][32] Although sources based on an official Government of India website state that the Indian National anthem was adopted in its Hindi version by the Constituent Assembly of India,[33][34] the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly of India on 24 January 1950 does not mention that the National Anthem was "adopted", nor does it mention that it was done so in its Hindi version.[35][36] In actual practice the unaltered Bengali version is the version sung as the National Anthem, with its words in original Bengali Tatsama, a highly Sanskritized form of Bengali that has Sanskrit words common to both Hindi and Bengali.[37]

The alleged Cabinet's decision to scrap the Tamil translation caused much furore in Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan government denied allegations that the Tamil translation of the anthem was to be abolished.[38] The Presidential Secretariat has stated that there was no basis to the media report and follow up reports which intimated the same.[39] Nevertheless an unofficial ban on the Tamil version came into being as fearful public officials in Tamil speaking areas stopped using the Tamil version or blocked attempts to use it.[17][40] The Sri Lankan Army forcefully stopped any use of the Tamil version and taught school children to sing only the Sinhala version.[40][41][42][43]

In March 2015 newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena announced that he would be issuing a circular which would state that there was no ban on singing the national anthem in Tamil.[44][45] Sirisena's announcement was attacked by Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists.[46][47][48][49]

During Sri Lanka's 68th national independence day celebrations, the Tamil version of the anthem was sung again for the first time since 1949. While Sinhala extreme elements protested against it, there was an overwhelming support was spotted among Tamil speaking community. It was seen as a step towards reconciliation.[21][50][51]


Sinhala Tamil English Transliteration


! IPA Transcription

ශ්‍රී ලංකා මාතා
අප ශ්‍රී....... ලංකා නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ මාතා
සුන්‍දර සිරිබරිනී සුරැඳි අති සෝබමාන ලංකා
ධාන්‍ය ධනය නෙක මල් පලතුරු පිරි ජය භුමිය රම්‍යා
අප හට සැප සිරි සෙත සදනා ජීවනයේ මාතා
පිළිගනු මැන අප භක්‍තී පූජා
නමෝ නමෝ මාතා
අප ශ්‍රී ...... ලංකා නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ මාතා

ඔබ වේ අප විද්‍යා
ඔබ මය අප සත්‍යා
ඔබ වේ අප ශක්‍ති
අප හද තුළ භක්‍තී
ඔබ අප ආලෝකේ
අපගේ අනුප්‍රාණේ
ඔබ අප ජීවන වේ
අප මුක්‍තිය ඔබ වේ

නව ජීවන දෙමිනේ නිතින අප පුබුදු කරන් මාතා
ඥාන වීර්‍ය වඩවමින රැගෙන යනු මැන ජය භූමී කරා
එක මවකගෙ දරු කැල බැවිනා
යමු යමු වී නොපමා
ප්‍රේම වඩා සැම හේද දුරැර දා නමෝ නමෝ මාතා
අප ශ්‍රී........ ලංකා නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ මාතා

ஸ்ரீ லங்கா தாயே - நம் ஸ்ரீ லங்கா
நமோ நமோ நமோ நமோ தாயே
நல்லெழில் பொலி சீரணி
நலங்கள் யாவும் நிறை வான்மணி லங்கா
ஞாலம் புகழ் வள வயல் நதி மலை மலர்
நறுஞ்சோலை கொள் லங்கா
நமதுறு புகலிடம் என ஒளிர்வாய்
நமதுதி ஏல் தாயே
நமதலை நினதடி மேல் வைத்தோமே
நமதுயிரே தாயே - நம் ஸ்ரீ லங்கா
நமோ நமோ நமோ நமோ தாயே

நமதாரருள் ஆனாய்
நவை தவிர் உணர்வானாய்
நமதோர் வலியானாய்
நவில் சுதந்திரம் ஆனாய்
நமதிளமையை நாட்டே
நகு மடி தனையோட்டே
அமைவுறும் அறிவுடனே
அடல்செறி துணிவருளே - நம் ஸ்ரீ லங்கா
நமோ நமோ நமோ நமோ தாயே

நமதோர் ஒளி வளமே
நறிய மலர் என நிலவும் தாயே
யாமெல்லாம் ஒரு கருணை அனைபயந்த
எழில்கொள் சேய்கள் எனவே
இயலுறு பிளவுகள் தமை அறவே
இழிவென நீக்கிடுவோம்
ஈழ சிரோமணி வாழ்வுறு பூமணி
நமோ நமோ தாயே - நம் ஸ்ரீ லங்கா
நமோ நமோ நமோ நமோ தாயே

Thou Mother Lanka,
Oh Mother Lanka we salute, salute, salute, salute Thee!
Plenteous in prosperity, Thou,
Beauteous in grace and love,
Laden with grain and luscious fruit,
And fragrant flowers of radiant hue,
Giver of life and all good things,
Our land of joy and victory,
Receive our grateful praise sublime, we worship, worship Thee.
Oh Mother Lanka! We salute, salute, salute, salute Thee!

Thou gavest us Knowledge and Truth,
Thou art our strength and inward faith,
Our light divine and sentient being,
Breath of life and liberation.
Grant us, bondage free, inspiration.
Inspire us for ever.
Oh Mother Lanka! We salute, salute, salute, salute Thee!

In wisdom and strength renewed,
Ill-will, hatred, strife all ended,
In love enfolded, a mighty nation
Marching onward, all as one,
Lead us, Mother, to fullest freedom, we worship, worship Thee
Oh Mother Lanka! We salute, salute, salute, salute Thee!

Sri Lanka Matha, apa Sri Lanka,
Namo Namo Namo Namo Matha.
Sundara siri barini,
Surendi athi Sobamana Lanka.
Dhanya dhanaya neka,
Mal palathuru piri, jaya bhoomiya ramya.
Apa hata sapa siri setha sadana,
Jeewanaye Matha!
Piliganu mena apa bhakthi puja,
Namo namo matha, Apa Sri Lanka,
Namo Namo Namo Namo Matha

Obawe apa widya, Obamaya apa sathya,
Obawe apa shakti, Apa hada thula bhakthi.
Oba apa aloke, Aapage anuprane,
Oba apa jeewana we, Apa mukthiya obawe.
Nawa jeewana demine,
Nnithina apa Pubudu karan matha.
Gnana weerya wadawamina ragena,
Yanu mena jaya bhoomi kara.
Eka mawekuge daru kala bawina,
yamu yamu wee nopama.
Prema wada sama bheda durara da,
Namo Namo Matha, Apa Sri Lanka,
Namo Namo Namo Namo Matha.

Srī laṅkā tāyē - nam srī laṅkā
namō namō namō namō tāyē
nalleḻil poli cīraṇi
nalaṅkaḷ yāvum niṟai vāṉmaṇi laṅkā
ñālam pukaḻ vaḷa vayal nati malai malar
naṟuñcōlai koḷ laṅkā
namatuṟu pukaliṭam eṉa oḷirvāy
namatuti ēl tāyē
namatalai niṉataṭi mēl vaittōmē
namatuyirē tāyē - nam srī laṅkā
namō namō namō namō tāyē

namatāraruḷ āṉāy
navai tavir uṇarvāṉāy
namatōr valiyāṉāy
navil cutantiram āṉāy
namatiḷamaiyai nāṭṭē
naku maṭi taṉaiyōṭṭē
amaivuṟum aṟivuṭaṉē
aṭalceṟi tuṇivaruḷē - nam srī laṅkā
namō namō namō namō tāyē

namatōr oḷi vaḷamē
naṟiya malar eṉa nilavum tāyē
yāmellām oru karuṇai aṉaipayanta
eḻilkoḷ cēykaḷ eṉavē
iyaluṟu piḷavukaḷ tamai aṟavē
iḻiveṉa nīkkiṭuvōm
īḻa cirōmaṇi vāḻvuṟu pūmaṇi
namō namō tāyē - nam srī laṅkā
namō namō namō namō tāyē

ʃriː laŋkaː maːtaː, apa ʃriː laŋkaː,
namoː, namoː, namoː, namoː maːtaː!
sundara siri barini,
surændi ati soːbamaːna laŋkaː.
daːnja ɖanaja neka,
mal palaturu piri, dʒaja bʱumija ramjaː.
apa ɦaʈa sæpa siri seta sadanaː,
dʒiːwanajeː maːtaː!
piɭiɡanu mæna apa bʱaktiː pudʒaː,
namoː, namoː maːtaː, apa ʃriː laŋkaː,
namoː, namoː, namoː, namoː maːtaː!

oba weː apa vidjaː, oba maja apa satjaː,
oba weː apa ʃaktiː, apa ɦada tula bʱaktiː.
oba apa aːloːkeː, apaɡeː anupraːneː,
oba apa dʒiːwana weː, apa muktija oba weː.
nawa dʒiːwana demineː,
nitina apa pubudu karan, maːtaː.
ɲaːna wiːrja waɖawamiːna ræɡena,
janu mæna dʒaja bʱumi karaː.
eka mawakaɡe daru kæla bæwinaː,
jamu jamu wiː nopamaː.
prema waɖaː sæma bʱeːda duræra laː,
namoː, namoː maːtaː, apa ʃriː laŋkaː,
namoː, namoː, namoː, namoː maːtaː!



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  50. ^ Celebrations end with National Anthem sung in Tamil - See more at:
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