"Light of Asia" Annual Competition


Cultural and Literary activities have been part and parcel of the programmes of the Colombo YMBA from its inception. In 1925, under the leadership of His Excellency Herbert Stanley, the Governor of Ceylon, the Late Mr. DNW de Silva, inaugurated “the Light of Asia” contest in order to develop oratory skills in English and inculcate Buddhist ethics and values among the younger generation of the country. This contest which requires the recital of verses from Sir Edwin Arnold’s Classic “Light of Asia” and explanation in English in their own words, had been continuously held with a brief interruption during the war. The contest has attracted many talented students, and after it was thrown open again to the non-Buddhists a decade ago, it was a matter of great satisfaction that students of the other religions too have participated. It was even more encouraging to note that many students from outstations also compete including pupils from Sinhala and English Dhamma Schools.

The Overall winner out of the 11 Finalists is awarded the DNW de Silva Challenge Trophy donated by Mr. Sidath Sri Nandalochana in memory of his late father Mr. DNW de Silva who was the inaugurator of this contest in 1925, along with a cash prize of Rs. 25,000/=. Those who win the First place in each group receives a trophy, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 1,750/= each. The other winners below them too receive certificates and cash prizes. These prizes are donated by well-wishers and Members of the Board of Management of the Colombo YMBA.


  • Overall Winners from 1990

            Year                Names of Winners

                  1990    -           Mr.Rajindra Rainer of Nalini de Silva School of Speech and Drama, Colombo

                  1991    -           Mr.Janaka Arjuna Ratnayake of Dharma Deepthi Dhamma School of Udahamulla Nugegoda

                  1992    -           Ms.Anusuya Subasinghe of Sirimavo Bandaranayake Vidyalaya

                  1993    -          Mr.Viranga Lakshan Wijeratne of Nalini de Alwis School of Speech and Drama, Colombo

                  1994    -          Ms.Krishani Dilhara Wijewrdane of Wendy Watmore Academy For Speech and Drama Colombo 03.

                  1995    -            Mr.Asela Nadeera Senanayake of Nalini de Alwis School of Speech and Drama, Colombo

                  1996    -           Mr. H. P. K Pathirana   

                  1997    -           Mr.Lasantha Rodrigo of Wendy Whatmore Academy For Speech and Drama

                  1998    -           Ms. A.L. Samarakoon

                  1999    -           Mr. Eraj Shri Chandrasekera

                  2000    -           Mr. D T T Wijeratne of Ananda College Colombo

                  2001    -           Ms.Sanlakshi Liyanagama of Vishaka Vidyalaya Colombo

                  2002    -           Ms.Gamithri Karunasena of Bauddayathana Dhamma School, Mount Lavinia

                  2003    -           Ms. Dilini Dias

                  2004    -           Ms.Piumali Seneviratne

                  2005    -           Mr.Thiran Weerasekere

                  2006    -           Ms.Isurai Adasooriya of Bauddayathana Dhamma School, Mount Lavinia

                  2007     -           Ms.Ruwini Wageesha Kodippili of Nalini de Alwis School of Speech and Drama, Colombo

                  2008     -           Ms.Thihani Welgama

                  2009     -           Ms.Sandamini Athakada

                  2010    -           Ms.Nikeshi Caldera of Vidura International School, Rajagiriya

                  2011    -           Joint Winners Mr.Neranga Jayaweera of Lyceum International School Panadura       

                     "       -                 "        "      Ms.Pemalka Ranmini Pemaratne of Nalini de Alwis School of Speech and Drama Colombo

                  2012    -           Mr.Rakbo Perera of Marjorie De Alwis School Nugegoda

                  2013    -           Ms. Panchali Ilankoon of Musaeus College Colombo

                  2014    -           Mr. W.P.G.H. Malinga de Silva of Siri Sudassanarama Dhamma School


Trophies awarded in Light Of Asia Contest



  Late Mr.DNW de Silva Memorial Trophy   -           Overall Winner


  Mr.& Mrs.LM Kuruppu Challenge Trophy -           Winner Girls, Basic Division, Colombo


  Mr.& Mrs.LM Kuruppu Challenge Trophy -           Winner Boys, Basic Division, Colombo


  Mr.AWA Abeyagoonasekera                         -          Winner Basic Div., Outstation (Mixed) Challenge Trophy


  Mr.& Mrs.J M Piyatissa Challenge Trophy  -           Winner Girls, Primary Div. Colombo


  Mr.& Mrs.J M Piyatissa Challenge Trophy  -           Winner Boys, Primary Div. Colombo


  Mr.& Mrs.L M Kuruppu Challenge Trophy -          Winner Primary Division Outstation (Mixed)


  Mr.& Mrs.H S Gunasekara Challenge Trophy-       Winner Girls, Junior Division Colombo


  Mr.D L F Pedris Challenge Trophy               -           Winner Boys, Junior Division Colombo


  Mr.& Mrs.J W Piyatissa Challenge Trophy  -           Winner Junior Division, Outstation (Mixed)


  Mr.N J V Cooray Challenge Trophy             -           Winner Senior Division, Colombo (Mixed)


  Mr.& Mrs.J W Piyatissa Challenge Trophy  -           Winner Senior Division, Outstation (Mixed)






 The annual “Light of Asia” contest conducted by the Colombo Y.M.B.A. is intended to encourage the youth to learn the art of public-speaking, acquire proficiency in the English language and appreciate the teachings of the Buddha as presented in Sir Edwin Arnold’s classic “LIGHT OF ASIA”. The participants will be judged on (a) the Accuracy of text (b) Pronunciation (c) Audibility and Clarity of Voice (d) Vocal and Facial Expressions (e) Understanding of  the Text. Candidates will be questioned by the judges and they will have to be prepared to explain the meaning of the passage recited in two to three minutes as to what he/she understood from the lines recited.


The contest is organized in the following eleven groups. The candidates who should be within the prescribed age limits as of (01st January of a given year) should recite the number of lines from the “LIGHT OF ASIA” by Sir Edwin Arnold as shown below.






 Senior Division           I             Girls & Boys        Over 17 years and under 21 years of age         
                                                                              (1992.01.02 – 1996.01.01)   -  30 lines

Junior Division            II            Girls                    Over 13 years and under 17 years of age  
                                   III            Boys                   (1996.01.02 – 2000 .01.01)  -  25 Lines

Primary Division         IV            Girls                   Over 11 years and under 13 years of age                                                                 
                                    V            Boys                    (2000.01.02 – 2002.01.01)   -  20 Lines

Basic Division             VI           Girls                    Over  9 years and under 11 years of age                                                          
                                  VII           Boys                    (2002.01.02 – 2004 .01.01)  -  12 Lines








Senior Division     -         VIII             Girls & Boys        Over 17 years and under 21 years of age   - 30 Lines            


Junior Division      -         IX               Girls & Boys        Over 13 years and under 17 years of age   - 25 Lines


Primary Division  -           X                Girls & Boys        Over 11 years and under 13 years of age   - 20 Lines            


Basic Division        -        XI               Girls & Boys       Over 9 years and under   11 years of age   - 12 Lines             



 A candidate who has previously won a first prize at the “Light of Asia” Contest organized by the Colombo YMBA will NOT BE ELIGIBLE to enter again in the Same Division.


 Applications for admission to the contest in the prescribed form should be sent to reach the undersigned not later than (date). Applications may be obtained from this office      on  or before (date).


 This contest will commence on (date) the Colombo Y.M.B.A., No.70, D.S.Senanayake Mawatha, Borella, Colombo 08. Admission cards will be posted to every eligible candidate  before (date). Any eligible candidate who does not receive an admission card should contact this office on Telephone 011-2698083/2695786. The date of Finals will be intimated to the selected contestants.


 All candidates attending Dhamma Schools must also enter the names of the Schools that they regularly attend/attended.


 All candidates are advised that they should be dressed only in white and should refrain from wearing identifiable marks or colours when they present themselves at the contest.





The CHALLENGE CUP in memory of Late Mr. D.N.W.de Silva, the organizer of the First “Light of Asia” Contest held in 1925 and Rs.25,000/= in cash will be awarded to the winner at the contest, which will be held on the day of the Prize-Giving.



 Vouchers from leading bookshops and books along with certificates will be awarded to all winners of the individual categories.


 Hony. Secretary for Literary Activities (English)

 Colombo YMBA

 70, D.S.Senanayake Mawatha



 Tel. No.011-2698083