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Diocese of Chilaw

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Diocese of Chilaw
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Chilaw is a coastal area in the northwestern province of Sri Lanka, spanning a land area of about 3,013.4 square kilometers. It comes under the northwestern province of the country. Chilaw is a seaside town on the west coast of the island of Sri Lanka. It is famous for crabs and coconuts. This is the second most important capital of the North Western Province where coconut plantations thrive.

Chilaw in early times was not only a reputed seaport it was also famous for its pearl fishery. Chilaw diocese is well known for its picturesque lagoon, a paradise for shallow sea fishing activities. More recently prawn farming activities have also flourished in the area. The history of this diocese goes back to the arrival of North Indian Prince Vijaya, 2500 years ago in Tammanna in the coastal belt above Puttalam. This happened when his vessel was washed ashore. Thonigala the homeland of Kuweni is situated deep in the district. Chilaw diocese is the second largest coconut producer in the country. And Tabbowa, fertile land for agriculture records the highest paddy production per acre. Holland fort at Kalpitiya, St. Anne's Church in Thalawila, and Munneshwaram Kovil in Chillaw underline the historical importance of this diocese. Munneswaram temple is a popular Hindu temple that is north of the capital, Chilaw. The temple is dedicated to the main deity in Saivism namely Lord Siva and is one of the five ancient Sivan temples on the island.

Chilaw has been the home of 'Nadagam' an integrated version of the dramatized 'Way of the Cross' and the Sinhalese 'Koolam' a form of devil dancing practiced by lowlanders - the first form of Sinhala drama in Sri Lanka. The great Mahatma Gandhi, the "Father of India", once visited Chilaw in 1927 on his first and only visit to Ceylon. The Kaffrinha had a community in this coastal district. They were brought to the island of Ceylon by the Portuguese from African villages. The Kaffir slaves settled here and their descendants speak Portuguese. The population of the Chilaw diocese, the population is 835,000 at end of 2016. (The population of the whole country 21,670,000.) Most residents are Sinhalese.

Chilaw diocese is adjacent to Anuradhapura in the North, Batticaloa in the West, Colombo in the South, and Kandy in the Central. The diocese was founded on Jan 5, 1939. Bishop Edmund Peiris, O.M.I. was consecrated as the first bishop. He was appointed on Jan 12, 1940, and resigned on Dec 27, 1972. There are now 40 parishes with 99 resident priests.

Earlier the Kurunegala diocese was under the Chilaw diocese and was later carved out as a new diocese of Kurunegala. The Chilaw diocese patron saint is Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There are 284,150 baptized Catholics in the diocese of Chilaw.


The Sinhala and Tamil languages are in use.


The rainy season begins in May and lasts till August and October to January, this is the time of year when heavy rains can be expected. Warm weather prevails from February to April and cooler, temperate weather from December to February. The average temperature is about 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

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