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Don Carolis Hewavitharana Wijeyaguneratne (1833 - 18 February 1906) was a Ceylonese businessman, industrialist, philanthropist and a pioneer of the Buddhist revival movement. He was the father of Anagarika Dharmapala, and created a political family of considerable influence.

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Early life

He was born in Yatiyana, Hittetiya, Matara, the son of Hewavitharana Dingiri Appuhamy. He was educated at Hittatiya Raja Maha Vihara by Ven. Mirrise Revatha, his brother was to become a monk at the same monastery, later its chief incumbent. He became an astrologer by profession.

In 1860, he married Mallika Dharmagunawardhana, the daughter of Lansige Lansige Andiris Perera Dharmagunawardhana, a wealthy businessman from Colombo. The couple had 5 children, Don David Hewavitharana who later changed is name to Anagarika Dharmapala and became a prominent figure Buddhist revival movement in Ceylon and in India; Dr Charles Alwis Hewavitharana, a proinent physician and independence activist; Edmund Hewavitharana; Simon Alexander Hewavitharana and Dona Engeltina Moonesinghe.

H Don Carolis & Sons

As dowry, Don Carolis received a furniture shop in the Pettah, which became H. Don Carolis & Sons Ltd, one of the largest and reputed furniture companies in Asia. In 1886 H Don Carolis & Sons exported furniture to Australia. An Indo-Afric syndicate was formed in London in 1895 to carry out a large furniture business with South Africa. This led to the establishment of the firm‘s first factory, 'Steam Furniture Works' in Slave Island. The firm became the dominant furniture maker in the country.

By the turn of the century, the firm was exporting to Australia, South Africa, India, Burma, England, Europe & the USA. Don Carolis obtained Gold and Silver medals for furniture exhibited at the Ceylon Agricultural Exhibitions, the Indian Industrial Exhibition of 1901, the Paris Exhibition of 1900, and the St. Louis Exposition of 1904.

Buddhist Revival

Until 1884, Buddhists were forced by the colonial authorities to declare themselves Christian. This was changed after Col. Henry Steele Olcott made representations to Secretary of State for the Colonies in London on behalf of the Buddhists of Sri Lanka.

The Buddhist Defence Committee (also known as the Colombo Committee) was formed in January 1884 under the patronage of Colonel Olcott, mainly with the objective of getting the Vesak full-moon day holiday restored. The British had not shown any interest in restoring the Vesak holiday which the Buddhists lost in 1770 during the Dutch rule. Dharmagunawardena was elected President with Don Carolis as Vice President.In 1885 the Vesak holiday was restored and the committee elected a steering committee, to which Don Carolis and his father-in-law were again elected, which went on to design the Buddhist flag.[1]

Descendants

Don Carolis had five children, the most notable being Anagarika Dharmapala and Dr CA Hewavitharana. Of the others, two had offspring. The most notable of this generation were:

  • Neil Hewavitharana
  • Raja Hewavitharana
  • Kumaradas Moonesinghe, founding Managing Director of the Elephant Match Company

The most prominent members of the third generation:

References

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