Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Rajan prowess in world scouting

Sri Lanka’s scouting chronicle is almost as old as the pioneering movement in England launched by Lord Baden Powell in 1907. The scout movement here was launched locally in 1912 by the British civil servant, F.G. Stevenson, at Christ King’s College, Matale. Next year Dharmaraja College, Kandy, established their troop under the stewardship of J.H. de Saram. "Since the troop in Matale did not function continuously, 1st Dharmaraja Troop is considered the oldest scout troop in Sri Lanka to have functioned continuously with an eventful history to claim," Former Deputy Chief Commissioner of Scouting, Shantha Madurawe reflected. 
Dharmaraja Scouts in front of Kandy District Scout Association, 1963

Rajan Scouts 1970 at Pedro

An illustrious Rajan scout himself, Madurawe had been bestowed with highest accolades including President’s Scout and Silver Lion. The founder of the Old Rajans Scout Association, the first ever such association in Sri Lanka, Madurawe has had the privilege of chairing all eight international scouts events held at Dharmaraja College from 1987 to this year’s Rajans International Scout Gathering of Centennial (RISGO 2013). Having held many a prestigious position at the Sri Lanka Scouting Association from 1978 to 2009, when he migrated to Australia, including International Commissioner, National Training Commissioner and Deputy Chief Commissioner, Madurawe’s scouting faculties have been honed by his international exposure at many international jamborees as well as his tenure at the Asia Pacific World Scout Organization.

We caught up with this affable old Rajan when he flew home to be part of his alma mater’s centenary scouting celebrations - RISGO 2013, to turn the pages of Dharmaraja College’s scouting chronicles which have truly lived the maxim ‘Be Prepared’ over a century.



1 st kandy Dharmaraja Scout Group Organizes an international scout gathering “RISGO Centennial – 2013” is scheduled to be held from 18th to 22nd February 2013 at the Lakeview Park International Scout Centre, Kandy, Sri Lanka under the patronage of Chief Scout, His Excellency the President, of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa. Over 5,000 cubs scouts, girl scouts and guides representing all districts of the island and scouts representing more than 40 nations around the world.
Queen's scouts 1950's -L to R : C.V.Gunatileke, Baladasa, Lampson Weerasekara, ??, Appuhamy.Photo Credit Hector Senerath
"Dharmaraja’s contribution towards the national scouting movement is yeoman. Whenever one talks about Sri Lanka’s scouting, no one can omit the word ‘Dharmaraja’ from it. We Rajan scouts are proud of our Lakeview Park International Scout Centre which is the most scenic and the largest scout centre in the island," he says. Lakeview Park which expands to 54 acres was assigned to scouts in 1924 by the then Principal, the late P. de S. Kularatne. In 1984 the centre was renamed Lakeview Park International Scout Centre which is modeled on the famous Gilwell Park, London. Today Lakeview Park is an experience itself for any scout-local or foreign, visiting the premises. 
Patrol Leaders at Scout Head Quarters Kandy 1969/70 Standing left to right;Chandana de Mel(photo credit),Gunatunga,Rohitha Siriwardene,Dodaduwa,Kothalawala,Anil Ellepola.Seated left to right; Kosala Wickremesinghe, Sarath Kumarasinghe, Nanayakkara, Mr.I.W.N.Indatissa, Mr.Bandara Weerasekara, Bandula Ambanpola, Nambuga, Palith Ratnayake

Dharmaraja College has organized eight international scouting events to-date, all bearing testimony to the prowess of ‘Rajan scouting’. "As part of the centenary celebrations of the school, the first Dharmaraja centenary JIM was held in 1987 during the tenure of Principal A.P. Gunaratne, an occasion which was graced by President Jayewardene. RISGO jamboree which is just concluded marking 100 years of scouting at Dharmaraja College was another first by Rajan scouts, with participation from over 30 countries representing all six regions in the world - the largest ever scout jamboree to be held in Sri Lanka," Madurawe recalled.

Fashioned on the theme of ‘Towards Global Leadership’ RISGO proved to be a forum of unity and solidarity. Enabling over 6,000 scouts, guides and leaders to experience adventure including land and water activities and survival skills, RISGO also had cultural activities and entertainment thrown in for good measure. The tour organized for the foreign participants to see Sri Lanka’s development projects and historical sites was a signature feature of the RISGO. The jamboree was declared open by Asia Pacific Region Scout Director, Abdullah Rasheed.

King’s Flag held high

The first landmark of Rajan scouting dates back to 1917 when Dharmaraja scout troop won the ‘King’s Flag.’ This was traditionally awarded to the troop in any of the British colonies with the largest concentration of King’s Scouts. Rajan scouts secured the same in two more consecutive years – 1918 and 1919. "Rajan scouts have also made history by winning the Island Merit Flag as the best scout troop in the country on more than 20 occasions during this period and they are also the present holders of this award," Madurawe said. They also had the honour of providing a guard-of-honour when the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) visited the island in 1922. The guard-of-honour which was drawn up on the platform of the Kandy Railway Station was personally inspected by His Royal Highness, making history as the first scout troop in the East to receive such recognition. 1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scouts also had the rare privilege of honouring the Father of Scouting- Lord Baden Powell, when he first visited Dharmaraja College in 1921 and in 1927. 

The picture is taken on the 22nd February, 1984 at the B. A. S. Wimalachandra Cabin opening ceremony at Lakeview Park International Scout Centre, Dharmaraja College, Kandy, Sri Lanka. From left (Standing): Mr. Mudunduwa, Mr. Gannoruwa, Mahinda Welamedage, Ananda Melpitiya, Pujitha Kapukotuwa, E. A. Jayasena, Deepthi Mahanama, Mr. Bandara Weerasekera, Mr. Saliya Rajakaruna, Rohitha Muthukudaarachchi, Nimal Jayawardena, G. H. Rathnayake, Mr. Sarath Mataraarachchi, Jayantha Rajakaruna, Anura Muwandeniya, Nimal Abeykoon, Mr. Nimal Godamunna, Udaya Iddawala, Anura Weihena and Tissa Jayatilleke. (Seating) from left: Mr. S. J. Munasinghe, Mr. B. A. S. Wimalachandra, Mr. C. M. P. Wanigatunga and Mr. A. P. Gunaratne (Principal). (Squatting) from left: Sarath Kumarasinghe and Ajith Jayasekara.

School boy Everest expedition

The Himalayan Expedition by a first ever Sri Lankan schoolboy team in 1985 was another feather in the cap of Dharmaraja’s unparallel scouting chronicle. Several such expeditions led from 1985 to 2008, by experienced mountaineer Ajith Jayasekera, another illustrious Rajan scout and the present warden of the Pedro Scouting Camp, Nuwara Eliya was another watershed in its history. "Scouts from Dharmaraja have also held many top positions in the national scout movement through the years. The founder of scouting at Dharmaraja and its first Group Scout Master, J.H de Saram, was the first Ceylonese Chief Commissioner of the Scout Movement. Hemapala Ratnasuriya, K.B. Alahakoon, S.L.B Kapukotuwa, Saliya Rajakaruna, Sarath Mataraarachchi are a few others among many Rajans who made a committed contribution to Sri Lanka’s scouting movement," asserted Madurawe.

Needs of the time

Madurawe who has served the Sri Lanka Scout Movement under nine Chief Commissioners finds his stint as the National Training Commissioner the most rewarding post he held. Identifying certain wants of the time, Madurawe said, "it is essential that the scouting movement receives more state support including that of the Ministry of the Education. Even the private sector can play a more active role in this regard. All leaders, especially those in charge of scout troops and cub packs should be more recognized for their voluntary contributions towards the development of the movement." Decentralizing the scouting movement among provincial and district administrators as opposed to centralizing them at a national level is also perceived as a contemporary need by Madurawe. He also encourages the formation of open scout troops at community level, without depending on schools alone.

"Scouting is a non political movement. Leaders occupying the highest seats of this movement should necessary be individuals equipped with knowledge and experience in scouting. The influence at regional as well as world level should also be minimized as far as decision-making at national level is concerned," observed Madurawe who emphasized on the importance of enhancing activities at district and provincial levels. His concluding words, "what is vital is not the increase in the number of scouts but enhancing the quality of scouting," seemed to be an endorsement of the truth of Baden Powell’s words - "Try to leave this world a little better than you found it and, when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best."

By Randima Attygalle



To celebrate the 105th anniversary of the ‘1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scout Group’, Dharmaraja scout group have organized a disaster management training program called ‘SERTORA 2018’ for scouts island wide for the first time in Sri Lanka. The program is to be held from 21st to 23rd of September at Lakeview Part international Scout Centre.

මහනුවර ධර්මරාජ විද්යාලයේ බාලදක්ෂ සමුහයට වසර 105ක් පිරිම නිමිත්තේ ශ්රී ලංකාවේ ප්රථම වරට බාලදක්ෂයින් වෙනුවෙන් සංවිධානය කරනු ලබන සර්ටෝර 2018 නම් වූ අපදා කළමනාකරණය පිළිබද විශේෂ පුහුණු වැඩසටහනක් 2018 සැප්තැම්බර් මස 21වන දින සිට 23වනදා දක්වා මහනුවර ධර්මරාජ විද්යාලීය ලේක්වීව් පාර්ක් ජාත්යන්තර බාලදක්ෂ මුලස්ථානයේදී පැවැත්වේ.

RISGO Centennial- 2013 International Scout Jamboree


February 18th, 19th and 20th is named as opening day cultural, community service and Cub Scouts Day and Girl Scouts, Girl Guides and International Day respectively, while February 21 st will be the leaders and Old Scouts Day and February 22nd is the Founder’s Day to commemorate 156th anniversary of Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement.  
Rajans Old Scouts rewrite the history books..

He was a proud old Rajan scout also a reputed president’s scout. Was an Asst. District Commissioner who has won the wooden medal. Became the very first Sri Lankan who explored Himalaya, by reaching there in the year of 1982, without the assistance of any party, even the government.
Pioneered in bring forth the first Dharmaraja scout group who explored Himalaya, by accompanying a group of Dharmaraja scouts to Himalaya in 1985. Mr. Ajith Jayasekara was born in 24th of July 1957 and passed away in 25th of November 2015. By the end of life, he was the claimant of the record of the person who visited Himalaya in the most number of times.
This is a Monument Made in memorial of Late Mr. Ajith Jayasekara in Dukla Pass, Himalaya among other monuments of Everest climbers!


The premier buddhist school in the hill capital, Dharmaraja college Kandy was started on 30th June 1887 with 12 students. When taking a look at the history of the college "Scouting movement" would take a prominent place along with many other huge and unforgettable landmarks.

Scouting at Dharmaraja was started in 1913 by De.Seram brothers under the patronage of the college principal at that time Mr.K.F.Billimoria as the 1st Kandy Dharmaraja scout group. The glory & the pride this scout troop has brought to the college & to the whole country over the last century is immeasurable & unmatchable.

Dharmaraja scouts are well known for "Himalaya Mountain Climbing" throughout the history of scouting. In 1985 Mr.Ajith Jayasekara & Mr.Sarath Matharaarachchi along with 7 other Rajans scouts reached this landmark as the 1st school in the country to achieve such a feet. After that 24 groups of scouts from Dharmaraja followed the footsteps of the pioneers and continued to dominate the Himalaya Climbing scenario in Sri Lanka up to now,2007 being the last time our scouts did so. We, a group of scouts from the troop number 06 of Dharmaraja College are hoping to rewrite the history books as the 25th scout group from the college to Climb Himalaya,while the main vision of this time's climb being, to celebrate the 127th anniversary of the college & the 100th anniversary of the college scout group.

We have the knowledge & the strength to achieve this uphill task & with proper training we can reach this target quite easily to strengthen the scout group further & to spread the Rajans name worldwide by creating history & help, keeping Dharmaraja name sky high forever & after.

Rajans Endeavour - Explore Himalaya 2016

The team  rewrite the history books as the 10th scout group from the college to Climb Himalaya, and has become the First team from Sri Lanka to reach an altitude beyond 6000m.

හිමාල ගවේෂණයේ දිගු ඉතිහාසයකට උරුමකම් කියන 1වන මහනුවර ධර්මරාජ බාලදක්ෂ සමුහය දිවයිනෙන් ප්‍රථම වරට හිමාල ගවේෂණය කරන ලද කණ්ඩායම බිහි කර තිබේ. ලංකාවේ වැඩිම වාර ගණනක් හිමාල ගවේෂණය කල බාලදක්ෂ සමුහය වන්නේ ද 1වන මහනුවර බාලදක්ෂ කණ්ඩායම යි. වර්ෂ 1985 දී නැසී ගිය ආදී ධර්මරාජික අජිත් ජයසේකර මහතාගේ ප්‍රධානත්වයෙන් යුත් ධර්මරාජ විද්‍යාලයීය බාලදක්ෂ කණ්ඩායමක් ප්‍රථම වරට හිමාලය වෙත ගිය අතර එතැන් පටන් මේ දක්වා කණ්ඩායම් 9ක් ධර්මරාජයෙන් හිමාලය වෙත ගොස් තිබේ.
ශ්රී ලංකාවට සහ දම්රද මාතාවට අභිමානයක් එක් කරමින්, එදා ශ්රීලංකාවට හිමාල ගවේෂණය හදුන්වාදීමේ පුරෝගාමියා වූ අජිත් ජයසේකර මහතාගේ කාලයේ සිට මේ දක්වා හිමාල ගවේෂණයෙහි නිරතවූ දම්රද බාලදක්ෂයින් ගණන බොහෝය. එසේ 2019 වසරේ හිමාල ගවේෂණයෙහි යෙදුනු දම්රද ආදි බාලදක්ෂ ලක්මාල් මීගහපොල මහතා විසින් සිය යූටියුබ් ගිණුමෙහි පළමුවන මහනුවර ධර්මරාජ බාලදක්ෂ සමූහය පිලිබදව පළකර තිබුණා... 


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