By Sharmini Jayawardena
Big Match Fever!
Come the month of March and Colombo is transformed into carnival🎡 atmosphere. The schools’ cricket🏏 lead by the match between Royal👑 College, Colombo and St Thomas’s College, Mt Lavinia, triggers off the traditions between rival schools.
For the boys who don’t play cricket or are not on the team it is a time or excuse to part-ay! And part-ay they do and they will, only they know how! The whole event precedes with the team of each school been taken on differently themed parades, (usually, cycle parades), to their captain’s residence.
The following day, the first day of the match, which used to be traditionally held at The Oval or The P. Sara (Saravanamuttu), Stadium in Vanaathamulla, becomes a hive of what they call “match fever”!
Match fever certainly rises high with Colombo coming to a screeching halt in every way!
The reason being – most of the “old boys”, are members of the cabinet. The prime ministers and presidents being from either of these schools (colleges). Those in public office as well as the private sector and professionals too belonging to these schools!
These three days (it used to be two), are set aside for revelry and devilry, when they are transformed into party 🥳 animals, singing🎼🎵🎶(especially the Baila*, and other improvised music provided by what is called Papara bands, and dance forms), dancing💃🕺 , boozing and merrymaking almost non-stop. All, while attempting to watch cricket?!
Inside the grounds, there are tents ⛺ put up for the “old boys” of each year known by equestrian terms like Mustangs, Thoroughbreds, Broncos and Cavalry!
This kind of merrymaking is seen only amongst the ‘elite’ of Colombo you may say. Though now, others have made inroads to the city and follow in the footsteps of their forebears.
The school boys get on to bedecked trucks festooned with plants, foliage, flags of their school colors, (Royal being Blue and Gold and St Thomas’s being Blue and Black), dressed in all sorts of fanciful attire, with a band playing raucous music inside, spreading merriment around the city as they go about picking up their friends on their way to the match.
Later, in the day they will drive around town at random especially disturbing the peace at their fave girls’ schools! The girls who’s boyfriends are most often from one or the other school, are themselves struck by match fever?! They either take two days off from school to attend the match which begins on a Thursday and ends on a Saturday or wait for their bfs at their school gates. The boys dance on the walls of these schools, make a general ruckus attempting to “gate crash”, and leave. Sometimes doing the unthinkable, (nothing extreme), a girl decides to climb into the truck!!!! “Facing the music”, as it were, later on, the next morning, at school.
For weeks ahead, and during the matches, vehicles🚗🚙🛻 transporting students to these schools will have their school flags flying from their cars!
This tradition, of part-aying and merrymaking especially in ‘mad March’, during the ‘Big Matches’, prevails only in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and we aught to do further research on this very serious and unique attribute called: Match Fever👨⚕️, which only us ‘Colombians’ are prone to!