Gajaman Nona

Gajaman Nona statue
Gajaman Nona statue at Nonagama junction (Photo credit: Google street view)
Dona Isabella Perumal Korneliya alias Gajaman Nona (1758-1814) was an illustrious Sri Lankan poet who was noted for having the ability to compose and recite impromptu Sinhala verses. She is considered the best-known woman poet of the Matara school.

Life events
Gajaman Nona was born in 1758 as the daughter of a minor Sinhala official and the granddaughter of a teacher at a school in Colombo where she is said to have been educated (Jayawardena, 2016). She completed her Sinhala education under Buddhist monks including the famous scholar Karatota Dhammarama Thera (1735-1827).

Gajaman Nona's life was not so pleasant. She was married to an official working in Matara District but it came to end with the death of her husband (Jayawardena, 2016). Her second husband also died, leaving her helpless with four children. She had met John D Oyly, the British Collector of Revenue at Matara, when they both studied Sinhala under the same monk (Gunawardena, 2003). After the death of her second husband, she had to feed up four children alone and therefore she appealed to D Oyly in elegant verse for support from the state (Gunawardena, 2003). It is said that D Oyly granted her some lands in the Hambantota District (Gunawardena, 2003). However, the unexpected loss of her husbands, her parents and later her children except one shows the bitterness she experienced during her lifetime.

Gajaman Nona died in 1814 and her house in Veragampita village is presently protected by the government as an archaeological monument (Gazette notification: no. 1739). A teledrama named "Gajaman Nona" portraying the life story of Gajaman Nona was telecasted in 1999 by the national television Jathika Rupavahini. A statue of Gajaman Nona has been erected at Nonagama Junction in Ambalantota.
1) Gunawardena, C.A., 2003. Encyclopedia of Sri Lanka. Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd. ISBN: 81-207-2536-0. p.121.
2) Jayawardena, K., 2016. Feminism and nationalism in the Third World. Verso Books.
3) Madumali, I., 2016. Spiritual world of Gajaman Nona manifested in''Gajaman Puwatha" stage play and the poem''Divaman Gajaman". pp.145-147. 
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1739. 30 December 2011. p.1092.

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