Last Queen of Sinhala: Kusumasana DeviJuly 23, 2010, 12:00 pm
by Walter Wijenayake
It was on July 20, 1613 that Kusumasana Devi, also known as Kamalasana Devi or Lokanatha Maha Biso Bandara, the queen of Wimalasharmasuriya I, breathed her last at Velimannatota, present Rock Hill Estate in Kegalle. Today is 397 years.
She was a daughter of King of Kandy - Jayaweera II alias Karaliyadda Bandara, who ruled the Kingdom from 1500 to 1542.
Sitawaka Rajasinghe was instrumental in banishing this King in order to annex the Kandyan Kingdom to Sitawaka. The King Jayaweera II with his queen, son, three year old daughter along with his sister and nephew fled to Mannar to seek refuge under the Portuguese. There the king and the queen breathed their last on an attack of smallpox.
The church of Mannar undertook the custody of the orphan Princess and handed over to the Portuguese nuns. They baptised her as Dona Catherina. Further they gave her an education befitting a queen keeping in their mind a plan to give her in marriage to a Portuguese General at the appropriate time and place her in the Senkadagala throne so that they achieve what they failed by might by sheer diplomatic manoeuvres.
She learnt under the Portuguese the languages, religions, music, state crafts and diplomacy, etiquette and all other intricate details befitting a would be queen.
The Portuguese, who were waiting for the right opportunity to invade the Kandyan Kingdom, planned in 1594 to bring Dona Catherina to Kandy from Mannar. Their motive was to enthrone her as the Queen of Senkadagala and get her married to a Portuguese Prince. When the proposal was made Dona Catherine/Kusumasana Devi who was far-sighted with a balanced mind decided to totally reject this proposal at the right time.
She came to Kandy accompanied by 150 Portuguese soldiers, a batch of Sinhala slaves, two Portuguese Generals and the residents of Mannar. Her trip to the destination took eight days. Don Pedro Lopez, the Portuguese General in Kandy accompanied by all the Kandyan Chiefs, Dissavas, other headmen and Provincial leaders were in attention to receive the Princess. Large crowds gathered on either side of roads to pay their respects and have a glimpse of the heir to the throne and the daughter of their deposed king.
She was crowned in Kandy. She married Wimaladharmasuriya I on January 2, 1594, who became the King of Kandy. This union brought an end to the civil wars within the country.
Kusumasana Devi begot by King Wimaladharmasuriya I, three children, namely, a son Mahaasstane (the legal heir to the throne), two daughters Sunya Mahudasin and Cathan Adsain and lived in the old palace in the premises of the present Kataragama Devale where the palace complex was within inner Fortress as indicated in the old Portuguese maps as well as the French but copied mirror reserved by Spilborgen in 1602.
It was in this particular period that the Perahera of four devales of Kataragama, Vishnu, Matha and Pattini was established. Kusumasana Devi with the King restored peace and harmony in the country and did so much for Buddhism and built the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy.
The King Wimaladharmasuriya breathed his last in August 1604 and Kusumasana Devi then married Senarath, cousin of the late king on January 5, 1605. By this marriage she bore three sons, namely, Wijepala, Kumarasinghe and Mahadasin.
Had Kusumasana Devi got caught in the Portuguese trap and been married to a Portuguese prince at a time when Don Juan Dharmapala of Kotte too had given the country to the Portuguese on a deed of gift we would have lost our country in 1592 and not in 1815. If there had been no Kusumasana Devi, there would have been no Dalada Maligawa today, for Wimaladharmasuriya’s legitimacy derived from his marriage to her.
While residing in a palace in Velimannatota, she passed away on July 20, 1613.