Roshan Peiris – Pioneer Female Indian Journalist And Sathya Sai Baba Devotee

Then Secretary of the Editors Guild of Sri Lanka and current chairman of Lake House Bandula Padma Kumara placing the gold medal on Roshan Peiris at the Guild’s Awards ceremony.

Then Secretary of th Editors Guild of Sri Lanka and current chairman of Lake House Bandula Padma Kumara placing the gold medal on Roshan Peiris at the Guild’s Awards ceremony.

Challenge-loving scribe who quizzed world leaders and delivered top stories – Roshan Peiris

She was in the twilight of her professional life as a journalist when she joined The Sunday Times, in the early ’90s, but even at that stage of her career she was a formidable force, and soon earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues.

She had in earlier times reached the highest echelons of the Ceylon Observer during her long and distinguished career as a journalist. She was admired for the breadth of her knowledge of current affairs, Sri Lankan and international, her efficiency and crisp writing skills.

Never one to waste even a second, the minute she returned from an assignment, she would head for the typewriter and get on with the job. With Roshan, there was no time to be frittered away at lunches and coffee breaks when a copy was due. It was always work first. She would not rest till she had finished her story and handed it in.

She was game for any assignment, and even the hurly-burly of election campaigning did not daunt her. Tired she may have been after long evenings on the campaign trail, covering election rallies as political campaigns reached fever pitch, but she always filed her stories on time. She delighted in the challenge of a tough story and being the first to break the news.In the course of a long career she interviewed many famous figures – from world leaders to film stars, writers and other celebrities.

Her list of “contacts” was legendary. She had a particularly soft spot for the world’s first woman Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and never missed her birthday gatherings at Tintagel.

She was an ardent disciple of Sathya Sai Baba, and looked forward to her visits to Puttapathi, in India.

Her colleagues knew her as a kind and generous person, always willing to help those in need. She was always forthright and sound with her advice.

Every so often she would bring us special treats. She would make Indian sweets and Parsee dishes and bring these to office, and then look on happily as her colleagues did justice to her culinary preparations, which invariably vanished in a trice.

Her love and devotion to her family, her daughter Savitri and son Suren, was an example to all. She is remembered with affection, three months after her passing away.

By A Colleague (Reference)

Pioneer woman-journalist Roshan Peiris departs

Roshan Peiris, a pioneer woman-journalist, departed from us last week. She was amongst a handful of women-journalists of the so called “Golden Age” of Lake House in the early 1950s who braved the citadel to work with the impregnable bastion of male journalists such as Tarzie Vittachchi, Denzil Peiris and Mervyn De Silva. It was a difficult task but Roshan, just as the rest of the determined and committed women-journalists at the time such as Ranji Handy, Jean Pinto, Vijitha Fernando, Malini Balasingham, Sumana Saparamadu, Hema Gunawardene and Mallika Wanigasundera, took them on and set trends of the highest order.

Hailing from a distinguised Parsee family – the Dadabhoys which had famous physicians and businessmen, Roshan, with a degree from the University of Ceylon joined Lake House in 1953 and took to journalsim like duck to water. She was a feature-writer and Women’s Page Editress of the Observer when she married the legendary Observer Editor Denzil Peiris who was at the time editing the Janatha, the Silumina and Jana – an international Lake House magazine.

They had two children – Suren who is an Attorney-at-Law today and Savithri whose death Roshan refused to accept till the time of her death.

Roshan wrote on a range of topics – politics, arts, fashions, health, human interest stories as well as colour pieces on special events. She rose to be the Features Editor and later even acted for the Editor of the Sunday Observer in the mid 1970s, an opportunity which perhaps did not come in the way of other women-journalists at the time. Her career spanned for over four decades and Roshan was the pick when Sirimavo Bandaranaike wanted to ‘grant’ an interview to a journalist. Roshan interviewed at least two Prime Ministers of India including Indira Gandhi and many, many other international VVIPs.

Roshan was also awarded a medal for long service in journalism at the 2001 Editors’ Guild Awards Ceremony. She spent her last years of journalism at The Sunday Times. If not for her poor health and the mental trauma of losing her daughter Roshan would have certainly continued with her writing right to the end.

By Rajitha Weerakoon (Reference)

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