With the signing of Kandyan Convention, Sri Lanka entered an era of Colonial rule. During colonial regime, long preserved Buddhist culture, tradition and values faced a danger of extinction. During the national and reformist protests in the upcountry, established a movement named ‘ Kulangana Samithiya ’ lead by Buddhist women. As an advisor to the laity in religious and social affairs, Reverend Karadena Attadasssi initiated the forming of this women’s association. To build disciplined cultured Buddhist women with noble qualities were the motto of the association. The setting up of Mahamaya College as the first Buddhist school for women was thus initiated with the visionary guidance of Rev. Karandana Attadassi thero Sarah Soyza and the other founder members of the Kulangana samithiya. The funds for the establishment of the school were initially managed by selling a large collection of fistful of rice that each member of the women’s Association daily set a side and also by selling Vesak cards prepared by them. Later, the Kulangana Samithiya was largely supported by philanthropist from upcountry as well as southern area through the unshaken effort of Mrs. Sarah Soyza in soliciting support from various people in the country.
The kulangana samithiya was able to buy the West Cliff House belonged to Anagarika Dhrmapala together with two and half acre of land adjoining it that belonged to Mr. Arthur Fernando. Mahamaya Girls’ College was formally opened on the 14th of January 1932 by Leuke Rathwatte Kumarihami. Thus, Rev. Attadassi Thero for his noble idea to establish a Buddhist school for women in upcountry, Mrs. Sarah De Soysa for her great sacrifice and the Kulangana Samithiya for their commitment deserve the honor as the Founders of Mahamaya Girls’ College, Kandy.
History of the principals
Mrs. Hilda Westbrook Kularathne was the first principal of Mahamaya Girls’ College. With the sanga’s blessings, the school was declared open with only 16 girls and five teachers. Mrs. Hilda Kularathna came from English background. She accompanied Mrs. Sarah de soyza to persuade parents to send their children to school. The school had boarding facilities then located in a part of west Cliff House. The main school building was declared open on 29th of August in1932 by then Governor, Sir Gream Thompson, Sir Banet Soysa, Hon. C.W.W Kannangara , Mrs. Chithrawo Rathwatte and Sir Baron Jayathilake. At first the syllabus was followed according to the English high school and students were trained for British Cambridge Examinations. Classes were held from the kindergarten to the Junior Cambridge examination level. Western music, Indian folk dance, Sri Lankan history and literature were also taught then.
In 1933 Mrs.A.Bangaru assumed duties as the principal and she concentrated on academic aspects and teaching of English.
On 13th of September 1937 Bertha Rogers took over the administration of the school as the new principal. The social services group was established so as to make students aware of society. The Buddhist union too was formed by her. She encouraged modern English education with Buddhism and Sri Lankan traditions. She made arrangements for students to sit Senior Cambridge Examinations. In the curriculum high place was given to Buddhism to inculcate Buddhist values and also to create the ambiance of an indigenous culture through which students were expected to be educated, reciting of Buddhist precepts, Dhamma sermon, sill campaign vesak and posan day celebrations were introduced.
House system was introduced and students were allotted to Maya, Sujatha, Vishaka and Sangamithha houses. College colors; maroon and blue were introduced by her. Sports activities, drama and singing competitions were introduced to the school. She even introduced embroidery, dressmaking, painting and cookery in special classes. Sports such as Tennis, badminton, netball and girl guiding were also introduced to school. In 1943 the Old Girls Association was formed and during her tenure initiated to send students for Higher School Certificate and Advanced Levels. She focused on all rounded education including sports and co-curricular activities. The motto of the school, ‘vijja uppaththang seta’ (Knowledge is Supreme) and the school anthem in English language were also introduced by Mrs. Berth Rodgers. The school which was founded under the name of ‘Buddhist Girls’ College was named as Mahamaya Girls’ College in 1938.
On first of May 1951 Mrs. Soma Pujitha Gunawardena was appointed the principal of Mahamaya College. During her tenure students got opportunity to study in both in Sinhala and English mediums. Physical resources were developed by expanding the library, and constructing two storied building for science section including three laboratories. Advanced Level science stream was started in 1956 and students’ selection for university entrance increased every year. The Sinhala version of college anthem was introduced. In 1966 college netball and volleyball teams won the All Island championships.
On 17th January 1972 Mrs. Lalitha Abeysinhe Fernando assumed duties as the new principal. College cooperative society was established by her. To reopen the primary section she could acquire Haecock Bunglaw opposite kandy lake and remodeled it to the primary section. Many community based projects were introduced to the school. In 1981, under 13, 15, 17 and 19 national level netball championship was won by the Mayans. ‘kala Mandalaya’, Poson Bathi Gee, Nature Club, western and Eastern Ochestra were also initiated. Under her guidance a saving bank was established. To encourage children to care for nature she introduced a Nature Club to school. She was committed to maintain the high standard of English of the school.
Mrs. D. Perera carried the administration as the acting principal from 1980 until1981.
On the 1st of January 1981, Neeta Pilapitiya was appointed the principal of Mahamaya Girls’ College. Her tenure marks the great achievements in academic as well as co-curricular activities. A new writers’ club was formed and she inaugurated a founders’ Day. In 1982 with the establishment of new three storied building including four laboratories, expanded the science classes for Advanced Level. Cadetting and Cadet Band too were formed and students excelled in both academic and extracurricular activities. Table Tennis was newly introduced. In 1982 had the Golden Jubilee celebration of Mahamaya. With the support from the Old Girls Association and well-wishers the school hall was constructed in 1990.
Mrs. Murial Subasinhe assumed her duty as the principal on 29th of September in 1990. During her tenure introduced the college Colors Awarding Ceremony. A five storied building with an indoor sports room was received to the college.
Since July 10th till 2000 Mrs. R.W.I. K Rathnayake hold the principal post of Mahamay College. Two junior laboratories, three storied building with eight class rooms, new hostel and a swimming pool were constructed. The college dancing troop had performed several shows in Austria and Hungaria on an invitation in 1999.
On 24th April 2000 Mrs. W.M .B Wijesihne assumed duties as the new principal. During her tenure college auditorium was constructed comprising with all facilities. Mahamaya excelled in academic and extra-curricular activities.
On 4th July 2005 Mrs. I. withanachchi took over duties as the principal of Mahamaya. During her administration Mahamaya reached benchmarks with her daughters’ high achievements in curricular and extra-curricular activities. The university entrance percentage in science, Maths, commerce and Art streams excelled with rank holders. In G.C.E Ordinary Level Examination too college could produce island wide rank holders. During her tenure, College physical resources were also developed with the new administrative building for primary section, provision of a coach and a bus to school, constructing green houses and medical center with all facilities. On her retirement in 2018 Mrs. S.A.R.H Senadeera assumed duty as the acting principal until 2020.
On February 28th 2020, Mrs. E.W.L.K Egodawela assumed duty as the principal. She was a senior officer of Srilanka Education Administrative Service. During her tenure, introduced the Advanced Level Commerce stream in English medium. College entrance boundary walls, principal’s office and quadrangle were renovated. She committed to develop academic and co-curricular activities. With the assistance of the Old Girls’ Association she took measures to equip the classrooms with online facilities. As Mrs. K Egodawea was appointed as an Assistant commissioner at the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Dulani Samarakoon who worked as the principal of Christ Church College, Mathale assumed duties as the acting principal for nearly 6 months. Mrs. S. Senadeera who was the principal of Science College in Mathale took over her duties as the present principal on 9th of June 2021. She is an old girl of Mother Mahamaya. During her school days she excelled in academic and extra-curricular. Mrs. S. Senadeera is currently taking all measures to develop and illuminate the school in academic and extra-curricular focusing on a holistic education.