Dharma Rajya at Moratuwa Beach
Melani Manel Perera
Many humans follow a religion to discipline life. Some secular persons reject beliefs. However, some argue through their experience that life becomes more successful when a faith disciplines it. They say that such wellbeing safeguards humanity among the other races and religions as well.
P. Chandra Fernando from Francisco Lane off Beach Road in Moratuwa is also a person who has committed himself to safeguarding humanity. He is a traditional Madel fisherman by profession. He provides livelihoods to several other fishermen too.
Sixty-one year old Chandra is a father of three. He is a Catholic by birth, but his wife and children belong to another Christian sect. Some of his neighbours are Buddhists. Moratuwa is an electorate in which equal proportions of Buddhists and Catholics live. There are a few Muslims and Hindus too. Chandra is a friend to all of them and offers to help them whenever needed.
Many of the Moratuwa people are proud traditional carpenters, and many men and women are engaged in timber-related jobs. Fisheries is another principal livelihood of the people.
“Usually, fishermen are straightforward people,” Chandra said. “They struggle with the sea and therefore trust the mercy of God. Many of them are devout believers. I try to live in the truth taught by religion. I am a fisherman who tries to serve society.”
This man told us that he was not a caretaker of religion, but he tries to practice the teaching of the religion. He believes that the truth taught by the religion must be in the heart of the follower. He is famous in Moratuwa because of these principles.
“Although people talk about race, religion and political parties, we all belong to one set of humans. We will never fight and destroy our lives if we are well aware of such things. We must help each other and live together. That is the thought in my mind throughout the day, and I practice it,” he said.
“There is a saying that the person who hides his or her sorrow and makes others happy is noble. I love that saying and try to create noble men and women for the future other than making myself a noble person. There were noble people in this country. Politicians divided and categorized people for their benefit. In my view, all of us are humans despite all of those divisions. We Catholics help the temple, and the Buddhists help the church. I sleep only three or four hours a day. The rest of the time has been dedicated to social service.”
He is known as Mr. Chandra, Brother Chandra and Uncle Chandra in Moratuwa. He is a brilliant actor too who performs the role of Jesus of Nazareth in the Easter play of the village church. He goes to the village, town, market, beach and everywhere on foot.
“I like to walk and don’t even like riding a bicycle. I can meet people when I walk. I can talk to them and understand their needs. I can then help them and guide them,” Chandra said happily.
His sole income source is his livelihood fishing. The income in rupee terms is meagre, but he has earned and saved many friendships from society.
“He has contributed in many ways to the developments and observances of Kalyani Bodhi temple of Moratuwella, Moratuwa,” said the Deputy Chief Monk of the temple Ven. Warapitiye Pemananda Thero.
Sudarshani Fernando, Nelum Kanchana, Priyadarshani Perera and Lal de Silva, leading members of the devotees council of the temple, lavishly praised Chandra for the valuable guidance provided by him.
Chandra is an organizer of community service, and with the support of other well-wishers, he has helped to develop temples and churches. He is presently the leader of the fishermen of Moratuwa while acting as the national organizer and the Colombo district chairman of the National Fishermen’s Federation. “All my powers, positions, benefits and provisions have been used for public service without discrimination. I will continue my services. It is a pleasure and self-satisfaction for me,” Chandra Fernando said happily.