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Sri Lankan English - Updates K

This page contains updates to the dictionary beginning with the letter K. It is divided into 2 parts: New Entries, and Comments and Corrections. Click here to return to the main updates page, or on the links on the left side of the page to go to another letter.

These pages are updated regularly; please contact me if you have any suggestions or feedback which can be included.


kabala: (coll.) jalopy, banger, old car (Sinhala)
“That kabala won’t even get us down a pallama.” (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 341)
“He has refused to accept the BMW the government offered him and still goes about in an old Toyota kabala.” (Sunday Times 05/02/17)

kachchaal (= karachchal): (coll.) problem, trouble (Sinhala/Tamil)
If I didn’t leave at that point the secret would have become a kachchaal and I knew that my mother, she just wouldn’t have been able to deal with it. (The Moon in the Water, by Ameena Hussein, page 73)

kadala gotu: a paper cone filled with kadala (Sinhala)
The gram-sellers at Galle Face Green sold their ‘kadala gotu’ topped with ‘isso wade’ for twenty-five cents. (Rainbows in Braille, by Elmo Jayawardena, page 161)

kade appan: everyday kade-style food such as hoppers, stringhoppers, etc. (Sinhala)
No wonder we young ones longed for kadeappang and issarakema. (Island 19/11/00)
… a family seated on a reed mat by a country roadside serving themselves kade appan from a plastic bucket onto plastic plates - … (Daily News 27/11/01)

kade paan: normal white bread from a kade (Sinhala)
They had taken a packed lunch of chicken roast, kadé paan, pol sambol and beer. (The Moon in the Water, by Ameena Hussein, page 69)

kade tea, kade thee (= milk tea): tea with milk and sugar as served in a kade
... it also offers kade tea and iced teas. (Financial Times 01/06/13)
… this was sweet to the point of being difficult to eat - like those cups of maximum-diabetes kade tea. (

kadu faculty: (coll.) English department at university (from Sinhala kaduwa = sword)
The Department of English, affectionately and informally called ‘The Kadu Faculty’ … (University of Kelaniya website)
… what was then called the 'elitist' English Department or also known as the 'Kadu' faculty with 'snobbish' students, … (Daily News 04/11/09)

kadupul: queen of the night, nightblooming cereus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum), a rare white flower which blooms at night (Sinhala)
Kadupul: the midnight miracle
This is the Kadupul - the legendary flower of the Celestial Nagas. (Sunday Observer 12/10/08)

Kaffir: a member of a small community of African origin, brought to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese and still living as a distinct community mainly based in the Puttalam area
> The word kaffir is derived from the Arabic word qafir meaning non-Muslim or non-believer. It was used for several centuries as a term for black South Africans, but in Africa is now considered a racist term. The Sri Lankan Kaffirs are Catholics and their traditional language is Portuguese Creole, which is still spoken by some elders of the community.

Seven hundred Kaffirs were also brought in to form a regiment. These Kaffirs were purchased by the British in Goa where they had lived miserably as the slaves of the Portuguese resident there. (Colombo, by Carl Muller, page 433)
By 1848, the Corps numbered 3,000 experienced workers, … assisted by African troops (called ‘Kaffirs’), descendants of those brought by the Portuguese to Sri Lanka. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 91)
The saxophonist went under the name of Freddie Fonseka, but his flat nose and woolly hair branded him a Kaffir. The Dutch had brought them over from Africa to deploy against the island’s kings. (The Hamilton Case, by Michelle de Kretser, page 102)
It is then that I notice that her features are almost African; maybe she has Kaffir blood. Kaffirs are descendants of Africans, brought here by the Portuguese. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 400)
... like the old-time Kaffirs already in his employ ... (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 222)
“But his hair, dear. Awfully curly, don’t you think? Kaffir hair?” (The Professional, by Ashok Ferrey, page 74)

kaffrinja: a type of dance music originally associated with the Kaffir community, from which baila evolved (from Kaffir + Portuguese diminutive -inha)
… and a rollicking kaffrinja set everybody in motion … (The Jam Fruit Tree, by Carl Muller, page 58)
The rhythm of baila and kaffringa, Latha found, was yet another of those traditions of the maritime provinces, inherited from the island’s European conquerors, that had been hidden from her by her mother’s prejudice against all things ‘Western’. … All around the room the most dignified of men and prudent of women were rocking within seconds to the energetic, compelling beat of baila and kaffringa, the men in mock-amorous pursuit, the women flashing coy, side-long glances while pretending to retreat. (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 196-7)

… but there also came a stage when the elders would dance the “Kafferinjha” with its elaborate and stately steps, while my father would burst out into its repertoire of songs. (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 116)
“But you just put some Kaffringha music on, he’ll be down here before you can say Robertson’s Marmalade.” (The Professional, by Ashok Ferrey, page 74)

kahata (1): astringent (one of the 6 tastes described in ayurveda, also called stainy in Caribbean English) (Sinhala)
> Kahata refers to the bitter taste (caused by tannin) in strong tea (especially plain tea without sugar), in herbal remedies such as kasaya, and in certain fruits such as uguressa (especially when unripe). The Sinhala word kahata is much more common than the English equivalent astringent, so kahata is also used in English-speaking contexts.

Veralu has a kahata taste which we don't know how to translate, it's kinda pasty and acidic, verging on bitter sometimes. ( 10/04/15)

kahata (2): plain tea without sugar (Sinhala)
“… we can’t even have a minute’s leisure, even for a cup of kahata at the canteen downstairs.” (Rails Run Parallel, by Ayathurai Santhan, page 126)

In any case, a simple cup of kahata gives you a legitimate excuse to stop and vegetate for a while. (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 110)
Kahata, freshly brewed tea with neither sugar nor milk but often served with hakuru, and ‘plain tea’ (with sugar, no milk) are available anywhere, even in the most remote village. (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 374)
A couple of people are seated outside on a log bench, having a ‘kahata’ (a cup of plain tea, which you sip while biting on a piece of jaggery …). ( 2012)
We’ve never been confined to that plain old-fashioned cup of kahata. ( 2012)

Kali Yuga: the current historical epoch according to Hindu philosophy (from Sanskrit) (SAE)
“And the yuga in which we live, the Kali Yuga, is to be 432,000 years, …” (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 110)
“Kali Yuga has come, I tell you.” (The Moon in the Water, by Ameena Hussein, page 23)
“Poor old Sri Lanka is heading still further into the Kali Yuga.” (The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 215)
“In the darkness of this Kali Yuga, devotion is the greater essential, not knowledge.” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 543)

kallathoni: a boat carrying illegal cargo or people (Tamil); also refers to illegal immigrants or boat people, and hence a derogatory term for Tamil people (> dhoni)
Many kallathonis carried such weapons, to beat off the Navy men who had to seize them at sea. (Spit and Polish, by Carl Muller, page 172)

Kallathoni, Rajan thought to himself. It was the Tamil word for boat people, used by the Sinhalese to denigrate them. (Song of the Sun God, by Shankari Chandran, page 348)
It is interesting that, to the racist Sinhala, every Tamil is a “Kalla Thoni.” ( 22/03/06)
It was owned by an old Tamil who was later arrested and deported for being a Kallathoni. (Daily News 10/11/10)
I learnt that Kuttan migrated to Ceylon when he was just 20 years of age by ‘kalla thoni’ as it was known then and chopped firewood for a firewood seller, for a meager daily wage. ( 16/03/13)
In this they were aided and abetted by the so-called ‘Kallathoni’ (illicit) private bus operators, who openly ran buses in contravention of the law nationalising public bus transport. … The new buses ran and became quite popular, being streets ahead of the old rattletraps run by the ‘Kallathoni’ bus operators. (Nation 08/12/13)
West of Point Pedro is the infamous coastal village of Velvettiturai, which for decades, had been a stronghold of the petty local smugglers and the landing point of illegal immigrants or Kallathoni’s from South India. (Sunday Observer 17/08/14)

kalu: black (Sinhala)
We have developed a sort of super-vision for spotting kalu-boards; the classic black signboards used by the Archaeology Department to indicate official archaeological sites. Veering off your route and following a kalu-board is a bit of a lucky dip - … (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 10)
I suggested different colours of clothing on different days, instead of the SAME DULL DRAB KALU COAT EVERYDAY. (comment on 31/07/12)

kalu coat karaya: lawyer (humorous reference to the black coats lawyers wear) (Sinhala) (> karaya)
You will, of course, find the odd Sinhala kalu koat karayas … complaining about the lack of Tamil translators in courts. ( 01/09/12)
As someone had said somewhere none of the KALU COAT karayas have appeared in the Supreme Court as they are just below mediocre lawyers. (comment on 26/11/12)
The video of this demonstration of loyalty to the CJ by the kalu koat karayas (KKKs) is now circulating in cyber space. The Kalu Koat fans only stopped short of asking for her autograph! ( 29/11/12)

Kandyan chief: a former chief or headman in the Kandyan kingdom
… 1815, when it fell to the British, not due to the superior arms of the Imperial Raj, but because of the internal intrigues of the Kandyan chiefs. (Accha House and Umma House, by Asiff Hussein, page 108)
In just two years after the Kandyan chiefs handed over the last Sinhala Kingdom ruled by Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe the people of the Kandyan region rose in rebellion against the British. They fought the British Red Coats for the next three years and many Kandyan chiefs, officials, laymen and clergy joined it. (Daily News 04/02/10)

Kandyan drummer: a traditional drummer seen in peraheras and other religious and cultural events; also Kandyan drum, Kandyan drumming
The North Koreans who had arrived and opened their embassies amidst Jasmine garlands and Kandyan drummers were asked to leave. (Monsoons and Potholes, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 134)
There were four identical images of Kandyan drummers, their hands beating barrelled drums, … (A Little Dust on the Eyes, by Minoli Salgado, page 20)

Kandyan hospitality: (dated) a euphemism for sexual favours granted to foreign men serving upcountry during the colonial period
Ever-eager-to-please local chieftains ensured that their white masters’ every need was met, including what was known as ‘Kandyan hospitality’. ( 02/07/05)
Kandyan women (and men) are said to have acquired their fair complexions due to the “kandyan hospitality” afforded to visiting colonial governers and high officials during the british occupation of ceylon. (comment on 01/05/11)
Kandyan hospitality created a fairer community in the hills, whose genes both technically interbred, due to their method of marrying within close knit families, and polyandry, and also of sharing foreigners with their wives resulting in the more knowledgeable and less mentally deficient sons and daughters turning out to be fair. Remember many a product of interbreeding had severe defects, one of which was a huge reduction in fertility. This enabled the products of secret liaisons to emerge as the new Kandyan and the more able of them were promoted to positions of authority, which then resulted in the Adigars of the Kandyan Kingdom, and other noblemen. ( 06/04/13)
“I am sure as a Kandyan you have inherited valuable Aryan traits.” Is it to do with Kandyan hospitality? (comment on 18/04/17)

Kandyan law: a traditional legal system relating to marriage, divorce and inheritance, which applies to Sinhalese of Kandyan descent
Kandyan law, however, made a distinction between forms of marriage; in the case of binna marriage, where the husband moved to live with his wife and her family, the wife had the same rights as her brothers in ancestral property. Where the marriage was diga, the wife moving to the husband’s house, she could not claim equal inheritance with her brothers. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 285)
The Kandyan Law stipulates that a "deega" daughter coming from a family originating from the Kandyan Region … is not entitled to inherit property from her father. (Sunday Observer 10/03/02)
My own research in Kandyan law has documented the manner in which colonial legislation transformed these Kandyan laws, and entrenched male centred legal principles that discriminated against women. (Island 30/04/11)

kankun: water spinach, water morning glory (Ipomoea aquatica), a green leaf used in cooking (Malay)
We always ate gotukola and kankun that grew wild on the riverbank. It was free. That was what we had with our rice at most times, gotukola and kankun. (Sam’s Story, by Elmo Jayawardena, page 45)
… the vegetable-hawker who had stacked her kankun and mukunuvanna miti in neatly tied bright green bundles. (Rainbows in Braille, by Elmo Jayawardena, page 111)
Finally it arrived – vegetable fried rice, cuttlefish in butter sauce, sweet and sour chicken, kankung beef, prawns in batter, and vegetable chow mein. (The Mango Tree, by Anthea Senaratna, page 96)
Or it might have been the extra strength garlic in the kang-kung. (Serendipity, by Ashok Ferrey, page 207)
Renu and I would often find her in the kitchen, … peeling onions and garlic or sorting through kankong leaves. (The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 73)

kapati suit: a sarcastic term for the white national dress commonly worn by politicians (Sinhala: kapati = cunning)
From the time I knew him Anura Kumara Dissanayake has always appeared in slacks and shirt and he had never appeared in a kapati suit or a national dress. (Sunday Times 08/08/04)
Although you could see some youth wearing coloured nationals here and there as a fashion, today the national dress is worn mostly by the politicians. Some sarcastically brand it as the “Kapati Suit”. (Daily News 08/06/05)
I have no reason to belittle the comments you have made in your article about those rogues in Kapati suit, from both sides of the divide. (comment on 09/05/12)
His brother, Stanley, of the Foreign Service, slipped into the ‘national costume’, a.k.a. the
kapati suit’ favored by politicians but without a saatakaya. (Nation 07/04/13)
It will be interesting to see how the kapati-suit fraternity will handle the issue of anti-tobacco warnings. ( 02/02/14)
I am all in admiration of the Sinhala national dress sometimes sniggeringly named kapati suit since many who don it are cunning. (Ceylon Today 25/04/15)

kapha (= phlegm): (in ayurveda) one of the three doshas which affect a person’s health (from Sanskrit) (SAE) (> pitta, vata)
The dosha affects not just the shape of one’s body but also bodily tendencies (like food preferences and digestion), and the temperament of one’s mind and emotions. For example, the earth element in people with Kapha dosha is evident in their solid, sturdy body type, their tendency for slower digestion, their strong memory, and their emotional steadiness. (

karachchal (= kachchaal): (coll.) problem, trouble (Sinhala/Tamil)
If the Minister in-charge of SLBC cannot stop the karachchal in the SLBC’s news bulletin, will the President be powerful enough to do it? (Island 02/05/06)

karaiyar: the ‘fisher’ caste (equivalent of Sinhala karava) (Tamil) (> caste)
Prabhakaran belongs to Karaiyar or deep sea fisherman’s caste. This caste is way below the dominant Brahman and Vellala caste. (Island 25/02/01)
The people of the fishing castes, collectively known as the Karaiyar, were independent of this social structure to which the landed communities were bound. ( 03/01/12)

kasa karaya: a whip cracker who leads the perahera (Sinhala)
Not only the elephants, but also the dancers, drummers, kasa karayas and pandam holders are becoming harder and harder to find. (Sunday Times 28/07/02)
Within minutes they hear the sound of ‘kasa karayas’ - whip crackers who act as announcers that the Perahera is on its way. (Sunday Times 31/07/05)
Beginning with the Kasa Karayas (the whip-crackers) the procession consisted of stilt-walkers, conch blowers, rhythmic dancers and drummers representing traditional dance forms from all parts of the country. (Sunday Observer 19/02/06)
As the sound of the ‘kasa karayas’ (whip crackers) is heard, the crowd gets excited. (Sunday Times 26/08/07)
Ranging from kasa karayas (whip-crackers) who inaugurate the Perahera by cracking their whips in the air, school children carrying colourful flags including the national and the Buddhist flag, percussion bands, conch shell blowers, stilt-walkers, flautists, drummers and the usual parade of elephants brought from different parts of the island it is pleasant to know the Nawam Perahera will continue, come what may. (Sunday Observer 24/02/08)

kasippu den: a place where kasippu is made and sold illegally
Weligama kasippu den raided (Daily Mirror 31/07/10)
After she died, he went on a binge and spent almost a month living in a kassippu den, drinking day and night. (The Lament of the Dhobi Woman, by Karen Roberts, page 28)

kasthane: (hist.) a ceremonial sword (Sinhala)
Regal 18th century Kasthane takes its stand at the museum: The 18th century Kasthane sword, believed to have belonged to a Kandyan aristocrat was taken to the UK in 1906. … The return of the sword to the Colombo National Museum which has a collection of  around 75 kasthane swords is a significant moment, … The Sinhala term Kasthane is said to be derived from the Portuguese word ‘castao’, meaning the hilt (of a walking stick). … The kasthanes are also believed to have been given by the Dutch Government to persons who are to be invested with a rank. (Sunday Times 06/08/17)

katina pinkama: an annual Buddhist temple ceremony (pinkama) which takes place in October or November at the end of the vas season (Sinhala)
The katina pinkama is the most eagerly awaited ritual in the calendar of events in a temple. It marks the end of the vassana period when the monks spend the rainy season indoors following a practice started during the Buddha's time. (Sunday Times 19/10/03)
However, Katina Pinkamas nowadays are characterised by colourful processions … Some of the processions even include Kavadi dancers performing attractive rhythmic acts to Baila tunes. (Daily Mirror 31/07/15)

katty (= kathi, manna): (also catty) (dated) a large curved knife (from Tamil kathi)
Taking a katty, he kept the coconut on the mortar and split it into two equal halves. (Daily News 25/02/04)
A brother of the victim girl had been clearing the undergrowth with a katty, which is believed to have struck a buried anti-personnel mine, causing it to explode. (Island 28/10/12) 
The victim and two of his children had been returning home on a motorcycle after a party about five hundred metres away from his home, when the suspect attacked him with a katty. (Island 13/05/14)
The Secretary General of Jathika Bala Sena, Mahiyanganaya PS member Ven. Wataraka Vijitha thero has brought a catty to the meeting. ( 27/08/14)
Suspended sentence for katty attack: The Negombo High Court Judge sentenced an accused to one and a half years in prison suspended for 15 years after he pleaded guilty to causing serious injuries to a person by hacking him with a katty, … (Island 28/02/16)

katussa: garden lizard, chameleon (Sinhala)
His critics have dubbed him katussa (chameleon), slang for turncoat. (Island 08/04/08) 
Watch it people what happens to these Katussas after Jan 8th. (comment on 17/12/14)
Stay in power at any cost by taking crooks and political katussas?? (comment on 29/05/15)

~ like a katussa: (1) skinny
why are you so skinny like a katussa? (comment on 30/11/08)
highlights from sanga just after he made his debut. he looked a bit like a katussa back then. (comment on 05/05/13)

~ like a katussa: (2) changing colours like a chameleon
The writer who was earlier a close pal of late Ranjan Wijeratne is like a katussa jumping from party to party for his personal gains. (comment on 14/02/10)
Cant trust this HoraNika woman Aney. Changing colors like a katussa. (comment on 23/09/12)
I wonder that ex-LTTE Mohan guy … who changes his color everyday like a Katussa … (comment on 10/07/15)

kavadi: a decorated arch carried on the shoulders as a symbol of religious penance as part of a Hindu festival, accompanied by a dance (Tamil) (SAE)
(Click here to see a photograph)
… they dance the ‘Kavadi’ and even walk on burning embers to repay vows. (Island 26/11/07)
Many devotees carry kavadi, which is beautifully arch shaped and studded with peacock feathers and the devotees dance to the rhythm of the music. (Daily News 16/08/10)
A large number of Kavadi dancers are thronging to the Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple every day for the annual festival that commenced on 12 August. Kavadi dance is an expression of devotion to Lord Skanda (the Kataragama deity) … (Ceylon Today 16/08/13)

He reminded himself of a Tamil proverb, … - once the kavadi is lifted to his shoulder, the dancer must finish his full round. (Rails Run Parallel, by Ayathurai Santhan, page 138)

kaviya: poem, verse, traditional ballad (Sinhala, plural kavi)
“Why do I have to waste my time studying Sinhala kavi, Miss?” (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 55)

… while we also sang ‘kavi’, verses in Sinhala. (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 232)
Worse, at times: he got them to read out the kavi in the Selalihini Sandheshaya, and the Guththilaya: … He knew it too well that … they weren’t the kavi type. (Stable Horses, by Vihanga Perera, page 71)
The astrologer … recollected the words of a kaviya he had once heard from his father’s lips. (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 147)
“I did not know she could recite kavi so well.” (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 250)

Far away I hear the cook and Nizam singing kavi, each outdoing the other in the bawdiness of their rhyming couplets. (Serendipity, by Ashok Ferrey, page 200)

keeri samba: a small-grained variety of samba rice (Sinhala)
The government was buying nadu paddy for Rs. 38 and keeri samba for Rs. 50 but it cost the farmer Rs. 45 to grow those. (Sunday Times 13/03/16)

kehel kana, kesel kana: a whole branch of bananas, the full crop from a single tree (Sinhala)
(Click here to see a photograph)
“Two full kana on any given day, …” (Rainbows in Braille, by Elmo Jayawardena, page 30)

The rows of banana trees with all the kehel kena or bunches tilting uniformly to one side; the unusual method of plucking each everiya (comb) rather than the whole kena; … A world away from swaying banana trees growing in untidy clumps, bent with the weight of the maturing kena! (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 140-1)
All smiles as he brings his ‘kesel kena’ to the ‘pola’ ( 05/07/12)
What if one neighbor has a long history of jumping into your premises when you are not around or while you are asleep and taking off with a kehel kena or two? (

kekka: a long stick or bamboo pole with a hook on the end, used for picking fruits (Sinhala)
A man who was plucking a coconut with a kekka from the roof of a toilet, died when a coconut he had plucked fell on his head, a coroner's inquest was told yesterday. (Daily News 22/07/13)

kenda: a type of leaf (Macaranga peltata) used to wrap jaggery, halapa, etc. (Sinhala)
…halapa, steamed in kenda kola, wide leaves plucked from the back garden; … (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 254)
Kenda leaves are commonly used for flavoring in Sri Lanka. Halapa dough is often flattened on a kenda leaf to soak in the flavor. Kenda leaves are used to wrap jaggery and other sweetmeats. (
The President was worried that the envoys would consume the helapa along with the kenda leaf in which the sweetmeat is wrapped so he proceeded to eat one by carefully removing the cover in the presence of the new Ambassador for Palestine … (Sunday Times 05/03/06)
Halapa in particular will intrigue anyone who is not used to eating it. It is a flat sweet wrapped in the leaf which must be peeled away to taste the sweet. The unique flavour of the Kenda leaf is infused in to these sweets, which give them a characteristic taste. ( 08/11)

kerosene oil: kerosene (US), paraffin (UK)
“We only want some kerosene oil,” … (Colombo, by Carl Muller, page 178)
The carter would beat with a stick on a kerosene-oil tin to scare any leopards away. (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 318)
… rubbing the edges of doorways with kerosene oil in a halfhearted attempt to keep them [red ants] away. (On Sal Mal Lane, by Ru Freeman, page 250)
37,000 drinking water bottles contaminated with kerosene oil have been apprehended. ( 21/04/14)

keththa: a long-handled knife with a curved blade (Sinhala)
We were armed with a Kettha each, not much use if it was an elephant or buffalo. (Arjuna Nadaraja, in The Nature of Sri Lanka by Luxshmanan Nadaraja, page 247)

“… he’ll be after you with a kattha.” (Rannygazoo, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 320)

Kili: (coll.) Kilinochchi
President arrives in Kili aboard Yal Devi (Daily News 16/09/13)

kindify: tease (from Sinhala) (> -fy)
Nayana is still muffling a kindifying sneer. (Unplugged Quarter, by Vihanga Perera, page 100)

kirala: mangrove apple (Sonneratia), a type of fruit used to make juice (Sinhala)
Kumana has always been called a bird sanctuary and the reason for this is the Kumana Villu. It is a mangrove swamp where Kirala trees (Sonneratim Acida) grow. … At a lower level are the Herons, Egrets and Cormorants, and at ground level among the Karang bushes and Kirala roots, nest the Whistling Teal and Black Wing Stilts. (Shirley Perera, in The Nature of Sri Lanka by Luxshmanan Nadaraja, page 93)
However, the ripened ‘Kirala’ has a very delightful taste as a fruit and is used to make an even more delightful fruit drink that is rich in vitamins. It is also said that ‘Kirala’ is a very cooling drink that soothes the body and is also a good remedy for stomach related ailments. ( 03/12)

kiri aappa (= milk hopper, paal appam): a sweet hopper made with coconut milk (Sinhala)
I used to go there and have "kiri appa" everyday I had classes at shakthi. (comment on 23/01/15)

kiribath structure: an artificial kiribath display at a wedding (> cake structure)
The milk rice (kiribath) structure is cheaper than a cake! You’d be amazed how much you’ll save. (comment on 06/07/12)
In Kandyan wedding themes Kiribath symbolizes prosperity and it conveys a traditional wedding theme. Today, most of the floral designers and wedding service providers provide Kiribath structures as well. (

kitul piti: (also kitul flour) a flour made from the pith extracted from the bark of the kitul tree (Sinhala)
… the old man who used to sell his kitul pani, kitul piti, kitul jaggery, … (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 271)
We used to once in a while have kitul flour helapa - pinkish shivery mounds surrounded by a mix of treacle and coconut milk. … The kitul piti was hard to come by, but it was bought at any cost since it was supposed to be nutritious and more importantly, seethalai. (Island 19/11/00) (seethalai = cooling)
… history also mentions the famine of 1830 during which kithul piti or kithul flour was consumed in large quantities. (Sunday Times 09/04/17)

kitul tapper: a person who taps the flower of the kitul tree; also kitul tapping (> tapper)
In addition to Chena cultivation until 1977, the villagers who lived close to the Sinharaja Forest would also use the forest for kitul tapping; … (The Nature of Sri Lanka, by Luxshmanan Nadaraja, page 289)
Tradition is upheld by these kithul tappers to whom the skill had been passed down by their forefathers. … The dearth of kithul tappers and the diminishing number of trees remain the biggest hurdles facing this age-old industry. … Although a lucrative source of income …, kithul tapping has always remained an extra source of income for these farmers who are engaged in either farming or mining. (Sunday Times 09/04/17)

KKS: Kankesanthurai (harbour on the north coast of the Jaffna peninsula) (> VVT)
The two cement plants at K.K.S. suffered considerable damage during the shelling of the subsequent months. (The Broken Palmyrah, by Rajan Hoole et al, page 191)
“How about next week if all of us go to K.K.S.? I’ll get the warrants.” (Yakada Yaka, by Carl Muller, page 151)
… how they had landed at the KKS harbour, … (Rails Run Parallel, by Ayathurai Santhan, page 58)

In KKS, gaping holes where limestone has been mined reveal the perfunctory nature of enforcement. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 296)
Yal Devi to KKS from today (Daily Mirror 02/01/15)

knock off: knock out
… knowing very well that Stanley's small arracks were enough to knock off a horse. (July, by Karen Roberts, page 21)
“Our air force will knock them off easily.” (Arathi, by Nihal de Silva, page 128)

koholla: the sticky substance found in a jakfruit (Sinhala)
Some of them were cleaning jak fruit, rubbing coconut oil onto their fingers to remove the sticky, milky koholla. (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 131)
Not to be outdone, our lads found an additive - Koholla, the gum from the jak fruit. This easily available item when added to the can completely absorbed the dye, making identification impossible. Our lads won the day. (Island 16/02/05)
Big mistake. Don't include Ajantha Mendis. He has to go with some koholla to catch the ball. His bowling is very ordinary. (comment on 2010)
Talk about a very sticky wicket. And add some koholla to that. (comment on 23/03/15)

kota uda
: off the road, grounded, out of action (Sinhala: on logs)
Some 350 Pajeros and 300 other jeeps purchased for the Police at a cost of around Rs. 720 million are now ‘Kota-uda’ with serious engine defects and other malfunctions, … (Sunday Times 26/05/96)
Indian Train Goes Kota Uda On First Trip (Sunday Leader 20/03/11)
Ranil’s vehicle ‘Kota Uda’ due to bad petrol (Daily Mirror 21/07/11)
Even if they do manage to buy a vehicle the fuel prices will ensure that the proud purchase will be ‘Kota Uda’ most of the time. (Sunday Leader 10/11/12)
One of my friend have a Mondao of similar vintage and most of the time “kota uda” waiting for parts from UK (comment on 15/03/17)
The Speaker Karu Jayasuriya … told the House on Monday how he, too, had been rendered ‘kota uda’ by the fuel shortage … (Sunday Times 12/11/17)

kottan, kottamba: tropical almond (Terminalia catappa), a tree with spreading branches and edible seeds (Sinhala)
… and the leaves shaking in the Kottamba tree as the bats flew in and out for their evening meal. (Rainbows in Braille, by Elmo Jayawardena, page 48)

The natural vegetation bordering the Bolgoda River is rich and includes trees such as kirala, wild kottan, … (Facets of Wewala, by Seneka Abeyratne, page 23)
Mythil hid behind a big kottamba tree near the stream … (Mythil’s Secret, by Prashani Rambukwella, page 9)
There were of course some things we loved doing together, like cracking open the kottang, the nuts of the Ceylon almond we found scattered by the roadside … (Accha House and Umma House, by Asiff Hussein, page 72)

kudda: (coll.) drug addict (Sinhala)

Most of us used to go to Darley Road for auto stuff. But in my personal experience it is not the nicest place to be in the city with kudda’s all around. ( 19/11/07)
I was labelled a “Kudda” – DM (Daily Mirror 23/12/13)

kumarihamy: an aristocratic Kandyan lady (Sinhala)
… and canny, country-bred kumarihamys with sons fattening nicely for market. (The Good Little Ceylonese Girl, by Ashok Ferrey, page 57)
The door was opened by the elderly Kumarihamy herself. (The Professional, by Ashok Ferrey, page 100)

The Kumarihamy made her slow progress through the dim gloom of the walauwa interior. (The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons, by Ashok Ferrey, page 97)
Being a big-city dweller, he was not used to the ways of Kumarihamies. (The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons, by Ashok Ferrey, page 271)
Receiving the groom’s party at the bride’s residence were Amunugama Basnayaka Nilame, the Adigar in Kandyan chieftain’s attire along with his kumarihamy. (
Around eight Berava families resident here have for generations turned out beautiful cottons adorned with traditional motifs known as Dumbararataa likely to captivate the heart of any blue-blooded Kandyan Kumarihami. (Sunday Observer 11/05/03)
There too the young administrator tried to have a word with the 'Kumarihamy', but she somehow evaded him. (Sunday Observer 10/12/06)

kunkumam: a red paste rubbed onto the forehead during Hindu religious rituals (Tamil)
The rituals were long drawn out and milk, coconut water, sandalwood paste and kumkumum together with the juices of fresh fruit like lime were applied on the idols of the gods and goddesses … (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 219)
I rubbed holy ash on my forehead and pressed kumkumum and sandalwood on it. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 221-2)
He would place the garland around my uncle’s throat and rub ash and kunkumum, the red paste, onto his forehead. … Manjal, lime, white powder, and kunkumum are ground together into a paste as the ayer sings through the verses of forgiveness. (Love Marriage, by V.V. Ganeshananthan, page 281)

Rajan dipped his finger into the pot of kunkumam powder the priest held out to him. Slowly and carefully, he placed a small red moon on her pale forehead. (Song of the Sun God, by Shankari Chandran, page 28)
She licked the iron nail, then dipped it into the pot of vermilion kunkumam, slowly and steadily re-applying the coloured powder to the middle of her forehead. (Song of the Sun God, by Shankari Chandran, page 374)
She placed a chain of gardenias around him and anointed his forehead with holy ash and kunkumam. (Song of the Sun God, by Shankari Chandran, page 384)

kuppi: cyanide capsule carried by LTTE cadres (Tamil = vial or small bottle)
Since Prabhakaran is a man who cannot give up, it is totally unlikely that he would remain in Mullaitivu, waiting with the "kuppi" in hand. (Island 05/01/09)
Thereafter each fighter marches up to the presiding commander and receives a cyanide vial, a kuppi, a totem that marks a commitment to selfless action, inclusive of suicide when faced with capture. … Yogi informed the BBC personnel that the kuppi had to be bitten not just swallowed, … (Island 08/04/09)

kuppi lamp: a small kerosene bottle lamp
When I reached home, two ‘Kuppi’ lamps were burning. (Island 12/01/02)
The situation is no different from the days of the Kuppi lamps, kerosene lamps and Petromax lamps. ( 03/12/12)

kurakkan satakaya: maroon shawl popularised by President Mahinda Rajapaksa together with white national dress (> satakaya)
> The kurakkan satakaya was first worn by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s father and uncle, prominent politicians in the south. It has now become associated with his presidential style, and hanging onto the kurakkan satakaya has come to mean the same as hanging onto the sari pota in the context of earlier leaders Sirima Bandaranaike and Chandrika Kumaratunga.
Earlier this year he hung onto President MR’s Kurakkan Satakaya in an attempt to become the Colombo City Mayor, but lost to a political novice. (Island 24/08/06)
Basil entered parliament adorning the President's trademark kurakkan satakaya, giving the impression that he would be the SLFP's next presidential candidate. However, it has now been revealed there is more to Basil's satakaya than just making a fashion statement. Upon being nominated to parliament Basil was asked by his brother, the President, to adorn the kurakkan satakaya in keeping with the Rajapakse tradition. Basil objected saying that he did not like the idea of wearing a satakaya as it did not suit him. … Finally, due to his desire to be appointed as the Beliatte organiser, Basil agreed to wear the satakaya. (Sunday Leader 13/07/08)
It is unlikely that he wishes to exchange his "Kurakkan Satakaya" and homespun white, for an emperor’s ermine and a crown. (Island 04/06/09)
It shows members of the TNA docilely following the giant size President, holding on to his Kurakkan Satakaya. (Island 21/09/09)
The Kurakkan Satakaya that he and his sons wear I am told is a constant reminder to them of their bond with the people of the Ruhuna. (Sunday Observer 06/11/11)
It was this suffering, particularly of the poor peasant farmers who resorted to growing kurakkan in the jungle chenas, that moved D M followed by D A to turn to politics wearing the kurakkan satakaya. The wearing of the kurakkan satakaya today by the next generation is just not a tradition, but reflects the feeling that their children, Mahinda in particular, have for the villagers of the region, and elsewhere, and finds expression in their politics. (Daily News 06/11/12)
In his trademark kurakkan saatakaya, he delivered perhaps the most significant speech in the country's post independence history and declared victory — ... (
In characteristic “Kurakkan Sataka” style, Mahinda Rajapaksa had neither informed the Joint Opposition leaders before the meeting nor briefed them in detail afterwards. (Daily Mirror 20/05/17)

kutti: monk’s cell (Sinhala)
Some of the caves are divided by brick walls to be made into kutties for monks. (Shirley Perera, in The Nature of Sri Lanka by Luxshmanan Nadaraja, page 95)

… little mud kooties to which once in a while could be seen a yellow robed figure walking sedately. (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 12)
The residences of the sangha are outside the sacred terraced area and may consist solely of constructed kuti (cells) as in Pidurangala … (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 23)
We thought we were climbing Nuwaragala, until a bhikku who came out of his kutiya put us right by pointing across to the next range! (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 327)
The only building at the summit is the tiny kuti under the rock. (Sri Lanka: The Island from Above, by Richard Simon, page 18)


kaneru: yellow oleander, a plant with poisonous seeds (Sinhala)

kavadi dancer: Hindu devotional dancer (not ‘traditional’ Hindu dancer)
(Click here to see a photograph) (and see kavadi above)

kohomba: margosa, neem (Sinhala)

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