In a glittering celebration of Sri Lanka’s literary brilliance, the 14th Vidyodaya Literary Awards ceremony was held on September 1, 2023, at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Sri Jayewardenepura University. This prestigious event, organized by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, is the first and only literary awards ceremony organized by a university in the country. It serves as a beacon for contemporary literature in Sri Lanka, celebrating the remarkable literary talents of the nation.
The Vidyodaya Literary Awards span five distinct categories: novels, short stories, poetry, columns, and academic publications in the humanities and social sciences. What sets these awards apart is the rigorous three-round evaluation process overseen by subject matter experts, ensuring impartiality and thorough assessment of the submitted works.
The 2023 Vidyodaya Literary Awards commenced its evaluation process in August, and after meticulous scrutiny, the finest works were selected for the final round. This year’s ceremony was not just about recognizing literary excellence but also fostering collaboration between academia and the publishing industry. Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed with renowned publishers to strengthen this vital relationship.
Among the esteemed partners, S. Godage and Brothers (Pvt) Ltd. were recognized as the silver partner, while Sarasavi Publishers took the honor of being the gold partner. Fast Publishing Pvt. Ltd. was unveiled as the bronze partner for the 2023 awards. These partnerships not only enhance the stature of the Vidyodaya Literary Awards but also contribute to fostering a literary environment that encourages the growth and appreciation of high-quality publications in Sri Lanka.
The highlight of the evening was the recognition of exceptional literary works published in 2022, spanning various genres such as novels, short stories, poetry, lyrics, columns, and academic publications in humanities and social sciences. The crowning jewel of the event was the ‘Best Novel of the Year’ award, which went to the remarkable work titled “Girija,” authored by Manohari Jayalath.
In addition to the best novel category, the ceremony recognized excellence in various other literary domains:
Best Short Story Collection: “Andhaya Saha Suruttu Nyaya” by Virajini Tennakoon, a Sarasavi Publication.
Best Poetry Collection: “Hengum Gangehi Hengila” by Lakshantha Athukorala, a Vidarshana Publication.
Best Column: “Tomson Mahattaya 1 and Tomson Mahattaya 2” by Bandula P. Dayaratna, published by S. Godage and Brothers.
Best Academic Publication: “Warna: Sannivedanaya Ha Sagnartha” by W. Ranjith Dharmatilake, a publication by S. Godage and Brothers.
The presence of distinguished figures, including Prof. Emeritus Sunil Ariyaratne, Vice-Chancellor of Sri Jayewardenepura University Senior Prof. Pathmalal Manage, Managing Director of University Publishing House Premasiri Haputantri, and Prof. Praneet Abeysundara, among others, added to the grandeur of the event. It was attended by a multitude of academics and journalists who gathered to celebrate the literary excellence and cultural significance of the Vidyodaya Literary Awards.
Prof. Kariyawasam, Chairman of Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (Lake House), expressed his admiration for the collaboration between Vidyodaya University and Lake House, emphasizing their shared mission to nurture and promote Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage. Lake House, as the media sponsor of the event, reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the cultural awakening of the nation, highlighting its position as the largest and oldest newspaper house in Sri Lanka.
Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof. Shirantha Heenkenda, praised the Vidyodaya Literary Awards for its role in fostering contemporary literature. He emphasized that when academics engage with these works, they become part of the larger discourse, ultimately benefiting not only themselves but also inspiring future generations of scholars.
In essence, the 14th Vidyodaya Literary Awards ceremony was not only a celebration of literary excellence but also a testament to the enduring commitment of institutions like Lake House in fostering cultural awakening and promoting the rich literary heritage of Sri Lanka. It was an evening that showcased the power of words to inspire, educate, and unify a nation through the medium of literature.
The Vidyodaya Literary Awards continue to be a vital platform for acknowledging and celebrating the literary brilliance of Sri Lankan talents across various genres, and the event’s collaborative spirit with esteemed publishers reflects its commitment to elevating the literary landscape of the nation.