Friday, January 23, 2009


The early Sinhalese names were like "Silindu" "Babun" "Menika" etc.Then surnames were added by foreign invaders.They were like "Kumbukgahage", Mudiyanselage" etc.Then people started using first names names of Portuguese Dutch and English origin like Selesthina,David ,John .There were similar surnames like Silva,Perera,Dias etc.Subsequently "national minded" people created first names like Gunapala Sugathadasa,These names were meaning ful.Sugathadasa means a devotee of Buddha.There were similar surnames but they had megalomaniac touches.Jayasuriya,is a victorious sun and Amarasuriya is a Immortal sun .Senanayaka is an army general!
The came names like Sarath ,Nimal ,Sunil etc.Thes e names too are meaningful. Nimal means pure.Than came the meaningless lot Surah ,Akash,Kushla ,Sudesh ,Kushla etc.
Islam names were Mohamad,Aziz etc throughout.There first name are like Umar,Tarique,Pathuma,Faridaa etc.Tamil surnames remain as Subramanium,Chinniahas,Arumugams etc.Their Female first names are Lalitha,Vasanthamala etc.Tamill males have two similar names like Velupliiai Prabhkaran or Ponnambalam Ramanadan.I am not aware of the significance of this.The Burgers have first names like Tom Dick Harry and Mary and surnames like Buuljens ,Koelmeyer,Holdeboettle Wise and Ludovyke.
My observation is that Sinhalese are still trying to to find an identity.They are not stable and have not settled down as far as names are concerned.They have been highly influenced by the invaders like Portuguese and Dutch


Blogger Serendib_Isle said...

Dear Doctor,

I don’t think you could ever do justice to a topic of this nature in such a short article. Sinhala names and their origins are a lot more complicated than you explain here, largely due to casts/creeds/titles and ranks etc that existed in our traditional society. In simple, the original Sinhala names in fact acted as “idetifiers” – meaning, Welegedara Loku Banda meant the eldest boy-child of the house by the (paddy) field and his younger brother could have been Welegedara Punchi Banda or Welegedara Ukku Banda, for example. The girls could have been Welegedara Loku Menika or Welegedara Podi Menika; and these names could have been a bit longer if the family carried any titles or ranks given by the King. Banda/Bandara and Menika are names from a certain cast, and the others could not use them. There are many names attributed to the profession as well. No Sinhala surname was “added by foreign invaders,” I must say... except for those who converted to Christianity and changed their names completely.

Tamil surnames also resemble the family-tree, the difference is that they take the father’s given name as the surname; thereby changing it from generation to generation.

Muslim names also work in a similar pattern – Abu/Bin/Binti etc stand to explain the relationships such as “father of/son of/daughter of” etc.

Like I said, this is a complicated, but interesting, topic – I hope you would find some time to do a bit of research and elaborate on this article with some factual findings.


11:31 AM  
Blogger Sri Lankan Doctor said...

Dear Serendib Isle,
Thanks for the interest and comments.
Sri Lankan Doctor

8:40 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home