Karunaratne Abeysekera

Karunaratne Abeysekera (3 June 1930 – 20 April 1983) was one of Sri Lanka's most famous Sinhala broadcasters. He was also a poet and songwriter and was widely admired for his excellent command of Sinhala.[2]

Karunaratne Abeysekera
Karunaratne Abeysekera.jpg
Born(1930-06-03)3 June 1930
Died20 April 1983 (aged 52)
NationalitySri Lankan
EducationNalanda College Colombo
EmployerRadio Ceylon/Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation
Known forPoetry, Songwriting and Scriptwriting
Spouse(s)Erani Abeysekara[1]
ChildrenDilipa Abeysekara

Abeysekera wrote the lyrics to over 2,000 songs, a record for a lyricist in Sri Lanka.[citation needed] His compositions are still covered by some of the island's top musicians to this day, introducing his lyrics to new audiences in South Asia, and his songs are played regularly by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.

Early yearsEdit

Abeysekera was born on 3 June 1930 in Ratmale near Matara in Southern Sri Lanka. He was educated at Nalanda College Colombo. Some of his notable classmates at Nalanda College were Dr Gunadasa Amarasekara, Stanley Jayasinghe, Dr Harischandra Wijayatunga, Dr Hudson Silva, Hon. Rupa Karunathilake, Hon. Dr Dharmasena Attygalle, Dr Henry Jayasena, Bernie Wijesekera.[3][4] Siri Perera was Abeysekera's Sinhala language teacher at Nalanda.

He was discovered by the children's radio programme Ḷamā Piṭiya ("Children's Field") hosted by Siri Aiya (also known as U.A.S. Perera - Siri Perera QC) and broadcast over Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio station in South Asia. Ḷamā Piṭiya was a showcase for young talents, and Abeysekera performed with his poems on the Radio Ceylon programme in the 1940s. He was an instant hit with the general public and remained a pop icon until his death.

His younger brother Daya Abeysekara was a renowned journalist and an actor. He died on 29 March 2019 at the age of 80. Funeral will be held on 31 March 2019 at Kanatte Cemetery.[5]

A teenage broadcasterEdit

Abeysekera was a pioneering Sinhala broadcaster. He was a rare breed, a "teenage broadcaster" launching a broadcasting career with Radio Ceylon, which he joined in 1950 at the age of 20. In 1958 he was sent to London for specialist broadcasting training with the BBC. Studio 5 of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation has been named after him.


Abeysekera was an announcer, compere, lyricist, dialogue writer, and poet - he also wrote children's stories. He worked very closely with another famous broadcaster, Vernon Corea. It was one of the most productive radio partnerships in Sri Lanka. His songs have been sung by a range of musicians, among them Pundit Amaradeva, Nanda Malini, H. R. Jothipala, Milton Mallawarachchi, J. A. Milton Perera and Mignonne Fernando and the Jetliners. Karunaratne Abeysekera won the prestigious Sarasaviya Awards for his lyrics on two occasions. The Government of Sri Lanka named a road after him in the capital city of Colombo.

Pioneer Sinhala cricket commentatorEdit

Abeysekera made history in the world of radio by being the first cricket commentator using the Sinhala language. He commentated on matches played by Ceylon against visiting English, Indian and Australian teams from the 1950s to the 1970s. He also commentated on local cricket matches. He had to devise cricket terminology to describe cricketing actions - this was uncharted territory in Sinhala; his words to describe various aspects of cricket are used to this day.

Quote on Karunaratne AbeysekeraEdit

Karu (...) has won many awards for his lyrics and achievements in broadcasting and allied fields. Through his children's programmes of the then Radio Ceylon (now SLBC) thousands of young people were able to display their talent and a large number of them later became popular (...). Karu loved cricket.

— Daily News (Colombo)

See alsoEdit


  • Cricket and National Identity in the Postcolonial Age, [Hardcover], Stephen Wagg (Editor), Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (7 July 2005), ISBN 0-415-36348-9


  1. ^ "Actually I had a crazy feeling on him - Erani". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Memories of Karu by his wife". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Henry Jayasena 'A gifted and decent human being….'". island. 2007. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  4. ^ "In memory of Henry Jayasena". island. 2011. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  5. ^ "Veteran journalist Daya Abeysekara passes away". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 29 March 2019.

External linksEdit