How many of us know that the elephant printed with a man wearing a cap near it, appearing on the 1,000/- rupees notes, has an astonishing story behind it?
Every one of us familiar with the Rupees 1000/- notes for its size, colour and so on will not know about the factual story of the elephant and the man with the cap near it, printed on the 1000/- rupees notes that are now in circulation in Sri Lanka.
Can anyone imagine that the elephant and the man wearing a cap near it are from the eastern province and the man is a Muslim? Yes, they are from the eastern province. The man is Umar Lebbai Panicker from Eravur in the Batticaloa district and the tusker in the note was caught in 1925 in the Eravur forest and reared by him.
It is said Umar Lebbai Panicker presented this tusker to Dalada Maligawa and within a short period it escaped from there and went in search of him to Eravur. He brought it back again and handed over to the Dalada Maligawa.
His Excellency President late J.R. Jayawardene in order to honour the long services of the tusker had declared it as a national asset in 1984. This tusker named as Raja adored the Esala Perehera processions in Kandy and thus became national fame and honoured nationally.
After this, the government in power then, decided to honour the person presented this elephant to Dalada Maligawa by printing the picture of him with the tusker nearby, on the notes of rupees 1000/- and the village Eravur was thus honoured by this action.
The tusker Raja that served in Dalada Maligawa and brought fame and honour not only for itself but also to the person presented it to Dalada Maligawa and the village Eravur finally died on July 15, 1988 after serving 50 years in the Maligawa.
“Panicker “is a name given to people who catch elephants in the forest, rear them and sell to people involved in business,
transporting or carrying very heavy materials and things. Their decedents are still identified as “Panicker Thaththi” or “Panicker Kathara”in Eravur. There is a road in Eravur known as ‘Panicker Veedy’named after their name.