In this article, I juxtapose the ways the “father of modern Sinhala drama,” John De Silva, and the Sinhala language reformer, Munidasa Cumaratunga, utilized music for different nationalist projects. First, I explore how De Silva created musicals that articulated Arya-Sinhala nationalism to support the Buddhist Revival. Second, I investigate how Cumaratunga, who spearheaded the Hela-Sinhala movement, asserted that genuine Sinhala song should be rid of North Indian influence but full of lyrics composed in “pure” Sinhala. The purpose of this comparison is to critique Partha Chatterjee's notion of the inner domain. Chatterjee focused on Bengali cultural nationalism and its complex relation to Western hegemony. He considered Bengal, the metropolis of the British Raj, to be representative of colonized nations. This article reveals that elsewhere in South Asia—Sri Lanka—one cultural movement sought to define the nation not in relation to the West but in opposition to North India.

You do not currently have access to this content.