Passion Plays in Negombo

Jesus who did you struck you?

What is the purpose behind this performance of Jesus death and the relevant incidents? What is expected? By exercising faith and by grieving over could some one make salvation? By listening to emotional sermon could some one get salvation? I have many questions while standing on the foot steps.

What is the ease for this historic event? Who was responsible for the death of Jesus? What is the duty of the priests who built a kingdom and put him to death today? We must think and see to it.

Shall we read the account the background of the cause of Jesus death in St. Mathews 23 rd chapter? The Pharisees and the priests were living luxuries life were people. Jesus exposed their wicked acts publicly. Shall we consider the speech of Jesus?

Priest didn’t realize the grievances of ordinary people they were filed with they put many heavy ruts on them. Their half were sidled with greediness and they closed the douse to heaven for there people. Neither they entered nor did they allow these people. Jesus had seen this wickedness. These so-called elliptic people made riches by selling spiritual wealth. Disguising common people turn the whole society to down to the earth.

This young man reproved them courageously exposed their wickedness. It was an insult for these elite people they thought and accused him and impaled him on the cross. As in the book of Ezekiel 34 : 18 some of these people didn’t satisfied with better grass and trampled the these lush pasture land. Although they dink clean water they have dirty this whaler.

It happened earlier still continuing. Where is the Easley for us who fallow these blind nesters? Think a little. Please join with Jesus without leading your and your neighbor in to a pit fall. Be your self a holy temple to make your on salvation. Please listen. A voice is echoing be alert. I am thirsty, what is the cause for this unquenched thirst. He shouts.

I was thirsty, I was hungry, I was naked, I was unidentified I was sick (Mathew 25 ; 35-38) what have you done to me .Jesus inquired.

Please assist the poor who are in the above conditions to find solutions as for your own issues. That was Jesus massage. You will be able to save your life.

Easter in History

What is Easter? It is described in the Old Testament of the Bible that it was the redemption from the slavery. What is this Slavery? The incident which mentioned in the Bible shows how those Israelites were suffered under Egyptian rulers or recumbence this redemption they celebrated the Easter.

The story says in Exodus ‘So they set over them chiefs of forced labor for the purpose of oppressing them in their burden bearing.’

In exodus 1; 16 it says when you help the woman on the stool of child birth if it is son, put him to death but if it is a daughter let her alive. The pharaoh address to the crowed and said every baby boy born to Hebrews must throw in to the Nile River. Israelites were suppressed with hard lab our, control the birth, kill infant by Egyptians. We are called little Romans. We perform the Easter and a year. We are released from the slavery. We must release our neighbors from slavery. As Israel were under the slavery of Egyptians. Do not our fishes in their whole life strive hard and perspiring, mix their sweet to the sea. Would they inherit?

Generation to generation the same occupation wouldn’t they? Is there a complete school for children? How many children enter to do higher studies? Could we satisfy with the percentage? How many unborn infants die before they are born? Have we are fought against the sources of those enemies. How many orphanages do we have?

Who will release us from this slavery we have under gone for generations. When would we step in to the Promised Land? It is not a real Easter if we are unable to realize it. If we are not free from the slavery there will not be a real Easter.

Dr. S.B. Welgama.


Pitipana Easter performance also a permanent event

Then the Easter started from Portuguese spread through out the catholic villagers. While they are performed in other areas it was performed on the stage of Pitipana also. It was demonstrated by the traditional artist of Pitipana

  • Naidappulage Thomas Fernando
  • Naidappulage Solomon Fernando
  • Naidappulage John Fernando

Now it has reformed and more meaningful. Pitipana is filled with the skills of these modern artists. The pioneer artist is Philician Fernando. The Easter celebrations are filled with his cleverness. Still all the villagers of Pitipana speak about ancient splendor of Easter.

I would like to describe an interesting story before I leave. Annas Caipus is on the stage with his uniforms with a triangle shape hat. The roll high priest was done by a handsome person Mr. Liyanage Abraham Fernando. Judas comes to them with 30 silver coins and complains the crime of his lord. The priest does not scold and says to Judas you don’t know anything. Then Judas bangs the coins with bag on to the table. The bag went and knocks the hat of Caipus. It removed from the head and thrown augury. The spectators were ion laughter. We must conserve the traditions of Easter in Pitipana – Blake says

When nations grow old
The arts grow old
AND Commerce steles on every tree

It is true when nations grow old. The art also grow old. But the commercial impact is every where. It is a heritage and a splendor for Pitipana ancestors.

I feel it is a responsibility for me to perform the Easter drama with its natural qualities and spiritual standard I feel I could do it successfully. I strive my best to conserve it. I entered this field with the performance of James roll in (Swami Daruwano) The lord in 1988. With my experience in production and Directions various dramas I have directed the drama.

The main medium to intimate with the spectators is art of drama. We strive to erratic a Christ with real noble qualities and demonstrate them through the drama. There are about so dramas were produced. For theses dramas they use only photo frames.

The fight Jesus started against the traditional elite class is it carrying forward by people of his own class. The open economy destroys all and lit the fire. I feel that you will be able to find. The culture descended through out. Till today from this drama. I must mention with pride that this drama was successful because of these actors who performed them clemently with their full force of skills.

A very few Catholics among multi religious nationality could manifest their instructors (Lord) character only on the Good Friday. Through this drama, the resident of Borelessa, Duwa and are silent today who were performing the drama continuously so we shouldered this scheme. Our main intension is that the generation of Duwa must srart these perfomances and brings it to prominent. It was origin of Easter. I would like to show my gratitude to Mr. Philician Fernando. Who had written the script? The editor, Mr.Colambage, The artist who had finished the coverv Michel Samarasinghe and Jude Premsiri. I would like to mention Mr. K.J.Fernando, Mr.Premlal and all the officers who helped us. My mother wife and brothers must be remembered. The members who spent their time and energy in every aspect of the drama I should humbly regard them

Sisira Jayashantha
Co director

We have trekked through with much difficulty and stepped in to 257 year. The ancestors who migrated to Pitipana from Ruhuna the south of Srilanka exposed their skills through Easter.

I have voiced on be half my village where I was born to an ordinary family. I have introduced my village. Pitipana to the world, gave life to statues Built the characters as a humanitarian.

Always strive to create high quality scripts and dramas. According to opinions of many scholars, those are successful creations. They say some one must take over my activities to morrow. He must be a skillful artist But not a pirate.

I feel that it is a great opportunity for me to work with Mr Jayashantha as a co producer although I was creating many variety shows on my own. Before I appreciate the dedication he has for these activities. And to make this historic concerts a success.

In these performances there were no discriminations as lesser roll or prominent roll. Every roll is sophisticated. It is an exercise of faith, it promotes the faith of devotees and their start with some enticing scenes concludes with tragic moments. We speak the qualities of Jesus with much appreciation we looked in to Pilates and Judas, Weaknesses pitifully, mercifully, in these dramas. Songs of the Pasan and lamentations are my favorites from my childhood. They are included in this creation. The lyrics of these songs were composed by the teaches Mr Jayaweer and Mrs athel liyanage. These songs made the drama more active. Dancing in this drama were directed by a Buddhist who is a dancer descends from generations this dancing as well as beating of dramas gave more impact. The music is by Tudor Weveldeniya.

All these made the drama more attractive. I would like to show my gratitude towards. Bro Quintus Kolambage. The media personal who introduced us through Medias, Mr herman Kurera provincial council member Mr. Ananda Hunasinghe.

Finally I pay my gratitude to sunethra my bellowed wife she is always beside me and my two daughters and my son. Further I would like to grateful to my co director Sisira Jayashantha the young talented artist and wife and mother.

A teacher - Philisian fernando

Review of Easter in Pitipana of Sri Lanka

The main intention was to start the drama to demonstrate Jesus’s life. His activities, death, ascension to heaven. In 1964 Easter dramas were performed in Ober Ammureugo near Baverian hills. It was the most significant drama. The drama was performed has sacrifices. In Sri Lanka the first drama was performed by Antenio Sheysto a fravsiscan hermit. That was performed with statues mentioned in a Franciscan book of history. Some Portuguese priest had performed a drama in Thelippili, Jaffna in 1706 with the statues brought from Gove. India. Later the priest who had come to Negombo from Gove had performed dramas in 1764.

First drama script was written by Mihindukulasooriya Gabrial Fernando. There are many different concepts about this. There were dramas performed in Pamunugama on and off during 1866-1879. When fishers of Pamunugama went to Jaffna for their occupation they imitated the dramas were shown there and created many new dramas. Bordelaise Easter drama the first script was written by Dr. D.C.P. Jayasekara for the two roughs selected notorious two roughs from the area.

Duwa Easter was started in 1936. Some residents who change teir residents claim for the statue and filled a case mentioned in history. In 1947-48 Kandalana Moratuwa. In 1963 Payagala in 1964 Wattala an in 1968 Kandana performed some dramas. There was a drama performed in Pitipana with the participation of 100 artists. (Actors) on different five stages. 1976-1980 demonstrated a drama in Nainamadama called Golgotha. Betrayal by caipus had performed in 1978 Enderamulla and Payagala. In 1971 Wadduwa and in 1978 JaEla.

Again a major performance was done in Pitipanaby an easthetic society. Now there is no performance in other areas other than Pitipana. The people who research could find it is a truth. It was said by several specialists in social studies. History reveals it.

Once it was ban by the governor William Pork Dutch arrested some performers when they were demonstrating. Even though they were not discouraged The organizers continue their performances once in 2 years. There is a stage built in front of church for performance. It was built the pattern of Dutch architecture.

Initially it was performed from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday in four days. In 1965 it had changes. Instead of statues they performed the drama with human artist in line with international dramas. It was performed in 22 days with the participation of about thousand spectators in Negombo town hall.

In April 5 of 1986 Pilician Fernando’s (Swamidaruwano) drama was performed in Sudasuna. It was performed in the same year on a open air stage on 21,22,23,24 and 25 March.

This drama flaming, bright with skills of artist who participated the drama. They bring some color to it. The ancestors who conserve this dramatically arts and the Pasan and Lamentations give much Light to these dramas. It is important to conserve those arts of drama a cultural heritage from the pirates for our future generations. The purpose of these dramas was not only for entertainment but also as an instruction. What happened to this purpose? Ancestors were not only actors. They dem on strate the qualities of Jesus with their lives. They selected the exemplary people to perform the characters. We must think the purpose of this drama.


The Duwa Easter Village

There are many articles,stories written about Duwa. Specially about the Duwa famous drama. This drama is famous not only in Duwa but also in whole Sri Lanka and in some other countries.

The miraculous Statue used for Easter performance has completed 150 years in1989. Even long before they had brought the Statue in 1839, they used statues perform Easter dramas.

Why Jesus’ (Agony) or ‘Torment’ deeply rooted in the hearts of devotees in Duwa, a very small village. When compared with Wennappuwa, Katuneriya, Bolawatta and Dankotuwa it is very small similar to a small object could carried with our palm. Because of this same reason the qualities of Christ may have made some impact on them. They sustain their lives by fighting with the Sea, and they are sure to satisfy their needs with the blessing of God. They were cared by Mother Mary. They care their spiritual needs as well as physical need equally. This village is like Jesus’ home in Nasareth cared by Mother Mary. When they are in trouble or have some problems they go to church and pray, make supplication to God. There was not a moment that the church was empty.

They went to church had a prayer before starting the day and after finishing their duties. In the Easter time, when the Statue is in the church they went more often than usual. The Statue is the symbol of their lives. I had an opportunity to participate 150th Jubilee when I was the Parish Priest. This village was very different than others. The environment was also different. All young and old take care of their spiritual needs as well as their daily needs. It is because they were very much interested in Jesus’ Torment on the cross. They were possesed with Jesus’ qualities. They live as members of one family with unity and harmony.

The main reason to unite them is that they engage in the festival celebrations by participating one or two members of the same family in the Easter drama. Even they had some conflicts between them, they were to be united during the Easter season. It is same even today. There faith is genuine, it is a live.

If a person adhere the teaching of Jesus apply in their daily life, they could live a meaningful and successful life. It can be seen from their lives. We can learn a lesson from them.

History of Easter drama is famous and known by many people. So I do not write anything about it. I feel nobody ever had written something of this village. This is my opinion of this drama and an experiment. Whoever try to live according to Jesus’ teachings would walk in the correct path. Holy church will adorn him with a hailo around his head.

I do not say that they are saints. (the villagers) But when they try to inculcate the teachings deep inside, incone, he could lead a better life. Because these teachings will enlight them.

If a person dimmed his spiritual qualities (life) his life doesn’t have any value. It is worse than a life of an animals. There are many animals help us, like dogs, cows, cats ect., Man is created only a little lower to angels. If a man would not help a fellowman his life is not worth. Life will be miserable.

Many Christians love to watch the Easter drama. Some are participating with a deep devotion. Other want to compare the drama with the written records. It improves the faith, deepen the faith. They used this method to teach a religion that who were illiterate. It can apply even today. When Jesus’ life reflect from us and when it is a reality, we can lead a meaningful l life. What shall I do to this man’ he asked. You can embrace him, imitate him.

Distinguish Five main qualities of Easter drama

What is Duwa Easter Drama? It is merely ascene of a drama or a traditional way of worship? It is the time to identify the issue.

Now the time to reform Catholic way of worship in Sri Lanka. The way has to be localized in Sri Lankan style. Some friends belong to Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist religions still perform their rituals, activities in Pali, Sanscrit, Hindi, Arabic languages. We catholics accomplish every aspect of our devotion in Sinhala in accord with Sri Lankan style.

In the past through out the world in all catholic churches used Latin like a link of a chain. At present only a few retired priest and some laity class know Latin.

  1. It is a continues performance once in three years up todate 150 – 261 years.
    Many organizations prop up and disappeared. Duwa drama is opposite. The reason is that the villagers of Duwa feel each one has a unique roll and they have a responsibility. It is a common activity all are engaged in once it was shown at the St. Peter’s Church and the next two years in Duwa for 7 days, 5 days, now on Good Friday. Once drama was shown in a church belongs to Jesuit order on the 30th November 1602 was said. In 1603 Bolawatta, 1613 Kammala, 1617 Chilaw records reveal the drama had shown in above places.

    Duwa drama was begun 1728. Now it has completed 250 years. We have hand over the investigations to younger generation on that issue. Formerly it was performed in line with Father Jacome Gonsalvez, on the script ‘Torment’. In Tamil it is named ‘viakula pirasangam’. There were no descriminations between Sinhala and Tamil. It is certain that the 100th Jubilee was celebrated in 1839. In 1939 the historical Statue 6’feet 4 inches in hight was used to perform drama in the festical celebrations.

  2. Modernization and revelution made by Father M.Jayakody in 1937.
    The parish priest of Duwa in 1939 made revelutions by adopting a new script in line of the English drama “born to be king” modernize the drama. Many priest knew that it is a great challenge convince the villagers to reform the traditions. But some how Fr. M. Jayakody could win their hearts. It is not an easy task. It is revolution done to reform their lives. With these reforms the villagers could follow Jesus qualities more closer. It is a courageous act. We must honour the ancesturs who werewillingly agreed on the revolutions accomplished about 50 years back.

  3. Living charactors instead of Statues
    The dramas of Lawrence Perera who used living to transform these dramas torusing living characters. In the dramas of Lawrence Perera used living characters. Probably these dramas may have made some impact on the Easter drama in Duwa. However the villagers when they participate vivid charactors in these dramas make dramatical changes in their lives. Although the human characters used in these dramas female rolls as Veronica and Claudia were performed by male actors instead of female. Rev. Fr. Jayakody he knew that the Archbishop of Colombo Rev. Mason the last foreign archbishop prohibited the dramas of Boralessa for the reason that they selected female actors. We never knew about it. From 1939 up to the scene of Pilates verdict some living characters were involved. St. Mary’s, St. Joshph’s characters are performed by using the Statues as earlier. Ascention of Jesus’ and the reciding of 7 verses are done at this time of the scene.

  4. The drama and the sermon is mingled together on the Good Friday.
    It is more than a drama. It is a sermon on the bible. The people get more closer to the event not as spectators but as devotees. Preserve these high standard is a challenge and a responsibility of all the villagers. When Jesus’ carry the cross trekking towards all the spectators compelled to follow him as real devotees. They are not like on lookers but they participate in the event as a reality.

  5. The stage is enormous.
    36 feet in hight, 60 feet in length. In the middle of the stage Jesus’ last supper is performed. Beside the betrayal of Jesus performed with Judas scariol and Caipus. On this stage many events could be performed at the same time not as a normal drama. Some scenes are imitated by old Nurthi dramas says Sunil Mihindukulasuriya. There aren’t any live characters or Statue to performed the roll of two robbers beside Jesus.’ Only two garments hangs on it. I feel this drama is not just some scenes but it represents real way of worship, unique to our country the Sri Lanka. If we could give life to drama, “Raja thun Kattuwa” (Three Kings) it will be a great contribution. It is a cultural treasure.

I humbly request Duwa Easter drama (organization) to publish a book about “Easter of Duwa”. They can invite a scholor who is studying abroad a clergy or laity to complete the above task. Please open a fund on that. Many dramatist, artist inquire about a book of research.

I wish someone may born from the same ground of Duwa.

Hon. Father Earnest Porutota
Parish Priest of Colombo.

Last Update: 29-07-2015

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