Establishing settlements

As aforementioned, Thudella is a village that belongs to Dandugamperuwa.According to history, in the ancient times, the population in the areas that are inhabited today was very small. This was due to the fact that this area used to be covered in marshes and forests. This area became colonized with the spread of west seaside colonies of the Portuguese. Here Dandugama is shown to have gained special attention. According to the Sinhala verse book ‘Magam Upatha’ (the birth of Magam) and the stories that have been passed down orally, this area had been under the rule of a Governor by the name of Seremen. There is also a Hindu Temple in Dandugama that dates back to the time of Chola and it still carries out the beliefs that have been passed down from long ago. Furthermore, it is recorded that Juse Rowel from the generation of Mudaliar Waranakulasooriya Adithya Arshaneeladhitti Nimel has come to Dandugama area as the Mudaliar in 1973 and has resided in the ‘walauwa’ (feudal/ colonial manor house) named Walawaththa Walauwa. Thudella renowned with the name Dandugama, had villages named Kindigoda, Mahagama, Muthurajagama and Gammadu Pitiya included in its area. Accordingly it can be surmised that Dandugama area might have extended from Kindigoda to Ja-Ela. It is also believed that in the beginning some who lived near the Dandugama Oya had begun to chop and gather wood and this spread to other areas afterwards. 

Dundugama has been mentioned in several places in the book, Dutch Period (1658-1795) by the Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka and Thudella is also been mentioned once. It can be believed that, Mahagama, Wahatiya, Suduwella, Thuduwa, Wella and Kiwwanahanawela were collectively named as Thudella.

 

Livelihoods

Long ago many pursued farming as their profession. Wahatiya was renowned for the cultivation of vegetables. However, cultivation of paddy took more prominence. In 1950, it is recorded that in Muthurajawela, a Governor by the name of Muthuraja cultivated paddy, and yielded a good harvest. There were also many paddy fields near the Pothuvila area. It can be taken into consideration that due to the population growth, these paddy fields had to be refilled and used to build houses. Another factor that may have affected cultivation was the refilling of streams and the lack of renovation that led to disturbing the water flow, and caused salt water to flow into the streams. Due to these various reasons farming was completely abandoned. Back in the day, aside from farming some even worked in the field of trading. Besides these two main categories, there was also a small number of people who worked as government employees (such as train drivers or surveyors), lawyers and even teachers. Also there were some that worked as labourers, transporters and fishermen.

The Establishment of schools

In the year 1882 after obtaining a piece of land that belonged to the Church, a school was temporarily built and initiated. Girigoris who lived in the Idivitiya village became the first teacher of the school. At the same time two sub teachers by the name of Justina Perera Dharmarathna and Madeleine Perera from Dalathura were also appointed to teach in the school. After the departure of Girigoris who served as the Principal, Joseph of Katan was appointed as the school principal. Thereafter, during the time of Parish Priest Father C.M. Cardano, in 1887, the school was handed over to Migel De Silva of Seeduwa. Due to his scholarly aptitude and dedication, the school became more and more renowned. He retired in 1926 after serving the school for a very long time. 

After this period the school was divided into two section as male and female. As time went by both schools became popular among the people. One special feature of both schools was the fact that most of the teachers who taught at the schools came from the village itself. Not only during the morning time, they also taught during the afternoon times. Unlike today they did not charge a fee in the school. Therefore, there was no lack of educational and spiritual development as the teachers devoted themselves to both causes. 

Mariah Senarathne, a teacher from the village and also the principal of the girls’ school was a notable individual who rendered an invaluable service to the school. There were several female teachers from the village that served this particular school. After the retirement of Maria Senarathne, the vacancy was filled by Holy Family sisters. 

The service period of M. S. Perera from Tudella who functioned as the principal of the boys’ school should be much appreciated. Many who were educated at the boys’ school during this period continued onto do their higher education and became employed at various government and other institutions. Furthermore, there were many that entered the profession of teaching. During that time students from villages like Kandana, Dalathura, Dehiyagatha, Dandugama, Udammita and Weligampitiya came into the senior class (now A/L) of the school. While M.S. Perera was serving at the school, two English schools were also initiated (today Convent of Mary Immaculate and Christ King College). As these two schools developed many they gained prominent standing. Even students from far away villages started to come to these two schools. Following the inception of these two new schools, although the number of students coming to the older two schools became less, the education standards of the schools were at higher level. 

After the retirement of M. S. Perera, J.T.S. Jayawardene from Dehiyagatha became the principal of the school. This is the period when the school was taken under the government. After this incident the Parish Priests lost the opportunity to look into the religious activities of the schools. After Mr. Jayawardene, Davin Perera (M.D.) became the principal of the school. The services rendered by him were unforgettable. After his retirement, Wilfred Jayakody from Amandoluwa became the principal. During his period the boys’ school was affiliated with the Christ King College while the girls’ school was affiliated with Mary Immaculate Convent.

JUBILEE ANNIVERSARY Golden Jubilee of St. Mary’s Church, Tudella

“Sagare tharuveni – sagaye doratu yathurenisamaye lakuneni – divindu gothire kiruleni” 

This is the only reminder that we have from the 100th Jubilee anniversary that was held about 50 years ago. During that time on November 29, 1951 the first step of the Jubilee celebration was to raise the flag. Subsequently, from the following day with the leadership of Father Robert Fernando, Rev. Father Roland Perera, Rev. Father Nicholas Perera and Rev. Father Edward Peiris holy masses/prayers were held while the afternoon was dedicated to novenas. 

With the dawn of December 9, 1951 the Church and the surroundings were engulfed in a festive atmosphere. The ground in front of the church was decorated with 8 novenas, 8 coconut pandols, various coloured flags and a multitude of other festive features. At about 8 in the morning during this auspicious day Archbishop Thomas Cooray was welcomed to the church by Rev. Father Jabian Fernando who was the parish priest during the time.

After that Archbishop Thomas Cooray started the ceremonial mass at the ancient altar decorated with beautiful flowers. This ceremonial mass was first sung in Sinhala. The next day with a commemoration dedicated to the dead and blessing of the burial grounds located close by, the 100th Jubilee anniversary came to an end.