After independence was granted to Sri Lanka (at the time known as Ceylon) in 1948, the need for a national anthem arose. As a result of a contest, Ananda Samarkone’s contribution, written in Sinhala, was chosen as the new anthem. It was first performed on the fourth anniversary of independence in early 1952. There was some controversy with the early lyrics, and they were slightly changed in the early 1960s, against the author’s wishes.
The anthem is usually performed in Sinhala, but lyrics also exist in Tamil, the country’s other official language, and are usually performed in Tamil speaking areas of the country. Despite a government official openly opining that the Tamil lyrics should be scrapped, a public backlash forced a reversal on this position, and the Tamil lyrics remain official.