The Senanayakes

The Senanayake Ethos in Sri Lankan Politics

The Senanayakes’ of Bothale, trace our roots back to the Anuradhapura Era. As pioneers of the Independence Movement, our forefathers changed the very course of Sri Lanka, through Rt. Hon. D. S. Senanayake, whose courage and determination supported the call for self-governance by nationalist leaders, and elevated him to the pre-eminent status of the nation’s first Prime Minister.

Our forbearers have been traced back to when the King sent a delegation to transport a sapling of the sacred Bo tree from Mahiyangana, to be planted at the shrine at Attanagalle. The delegation, having rested for the night near Attanagalle, found the next morning that the sapling had taken root, and henceforth the village was called “Bothale” and care of the temple that was built delegated to Kulawansa Senanayake, from whom the Senanayake clan descended. Our ancestry has instilled a strong sense of religion among them, rendering valuable service over centuries and being instrumental in propagating Buddhism.

Sons of the Soil:

The Senanayakes of old were entrepreneurs that had roots in plantation, mining and coconut estates. Both D.S. and his son Dudley actively endeavored to establish food security, by building up agriculture in the dry zones and thereby, achieving economic development. Their efforts were rewarded when the local production of rice sufficiently fulfilled the national demand, when the traditional supply of food was disrupted during the 2nd World War.

Due to the significant success of D.S’ father, Don Spater’s business, the family was financially independent of the British and thus felt a strong social responsibility towards their fellow villagers to extricate them from dependence on the colonists. They successfully implemented the Temperance Movement in Hapitigama Korale in the Mirigama district, to mitigate the vices of alcohol and its adverse effects upon the community, thereby becoming a foundation for independence.

D.S. Senanayake founded the United National Party one of the leading political parties of the nation in 1946. The brothers’ resolute battle for nationalism had a monumental impact on shaping the destiny of Sri Lanka, paving the way for a political lineage that descends to this day. Through the political and social history of Sri Lanka, we the Senanayakes have remained at the forefront.