Sportsmen and sports promoter, the former Diyawadane Nilame Neranjan Priyadarshana Dullewe Wijeyeratne says good bye to the Kandy Municipal Council and politics, as he is to contest the Diyawadane Nilame post again, a position he held earlier for record number of years.
Neranjan, the product of Royal College Colombo, excelled in sports during his school days, and later gave a big hand in sports; he was one time patron of the Kandy association Football League, and also when International cricket matches were played over here in Kandy at Trinity College International Stadium, he was there for all matches.
While as the Opposition leader of the Kandy Municipal Council, he gave his best. The Kandy Municipal Council was formed in 1865 and first met in 1866. Niranjan as the leader of the Opposition gave a big hand in sports; his resignation is a great loss for the Council.
Neranjan was born on August 9, 1956 to Nissanka Wijeyeratne and Nita Dullewe Wijeyeratne; he is the eldest of three brothers and a sister. His father and grandfather were prominent politicians, who had become Cabinet ministers, and his brother Mano Wijeyeratne was Non-Cabinet Minister of Enterprise Development and Plantation Services.
Neranjan, following in his father’s footsteps, was elected Diyawadana Nilame (Chief lay Custodian) of the Temple of the Tooth, Kandy in March 1985, and served for 20 years, until 2005. Prior to being named the Diyawadana Nilame, he served a term of five years as Basnayake Nilame (Lay Custodian) of Lankathilaka Maha Vishnu Devalaya, Kandy.
He was noted for his ability when the temple was restored following the LTTE bombing in 1998. He was also responsible for the construction of the famous ‘golden fence’ around Sri Dalada Maligawa. He set up the Dalada Museum, which houses a historic collection of artifacts, related to the Temple of the Tooth and Buddhism , in Sri Lanka. The ‘Temple of the Tooth Special Development Fund and Sri Dalada Maligawa Buddhist Welfare Fund was set up by him. Meanwhile, the Pallekale Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy (Thai-Sri Lanka International Buddhist Institution) with a modern conference hall that can accommodate 1,000 guests was established by him, while he was Diyawadana Nilame. During his tenure, he maintained close links with Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Myanmar religious dignitaries and played a major role in promoting Sri Lanka’s Buddhist heritage.
After stepping down as Diyawadana Nilame following his second term, he went into active politics. He was the leader of the Opposition at the Kandy Municipal Council, where he did an excellent job.