'Sri Lanka' to replace all references to colonial 'Ceylon'

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Colombo
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  • Updated: Dec 30, 2010 18:13 IST

All remaining references to the British colonial name of Ceylon will soon be replaced by the Sanskrit-origin Sri Lanka, the government announced on Thursday.

The Sri Lankan cabinet took the decision during a meeting to rename all public institutions beginning with Ceylon with Sri Lanka as soon as the appropriate legislation could be prepared and passed and legalities completed.

The decision was taken while the cabinet was considering a proposal to rechristen the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board. It was then decided to extend it to all other public institutions beginning with the name Ceylon.

Cabinet authorised the Ministry Finance and Planning to take this matter up with the Legal Draftsman and to prepare necessary legislation in a single Bill to change the names all such Statutory Boards and public corporations.

Currently there are several public enterprises with the name of Ceylon, such as Bank of Ceylon, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, Ceylon Electricity Board, Ceylon Tourist Board etc.

Like in south Asian nation, Sri Lanka too has changed several colonial names of streets and localities and replaced them with local names.

The country has been known by various names through history. Ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobane and Arabs referred to it as Serendib (the origin of the word 'serendipity'). According to the Daily Mirror online, Ceilão was the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese when they arrived in 1505, which was transliterated into English as Ceylon.

As a British crown colony, the island was known as Ceylon, and achieved independence under the name Dominion of Ceylon in 1948.

The island became independent from Britain in 1948 and reverted to its traditional Sinhalese name of Sri Lanka in 1972 when it became a republic. The name derives from the Sanskritised 'Sri Lanka' which means venerable (Sri) island (Lanka).

Though as per the new decision names of institutions will be changed, according to AFP, the name Ceylon however is likely to remain in common use in the tea export industry, where the name is highly-valued for denoting the distinct flavour of tea produced on the island.


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