H.B. Udurawana (1900-1989) was elected the 16th Diyawadana Nilame of the Temple of the Tooth in 1964. He was a Senator in Sri Lanka from 1967-1971. He was also the Deputy Mayor of Kandy, Sri Lanka and served as the Mayor on certain occasions. Udurawana is regarded as one of the most effective Diyawadana Nilames of modern times for the substantial improvements and advancements made to the Temple of the Tooth during his tenure.
Mr. Udurawana was born December 15, 1900 at Udurawana, Wattegama. He was educated at Christ Church College, Wattegama and at the School of Agriculture, Alawatugoda. He was a proprietary planter businessman, leading contractor and transport agent. Mr. Udurawana was elected to the Kandy Municipal Council in 1948 and served as Deputy Mayor and acted as Mayor on certain occasions. During his tenure of office he took effective action to improve the Kandy D. S. Senanayake Library, Kandy Central Market and got a satisfactory Water Supply Scheme for Kandy. One of the main roads in central Kandy is called H.B. Udurawana Mawatha in honor of Mr. Udurawana's contributions to the city.
He also served as a member of the Senate of Ceylon from August 1967 to October 1979. In 1948, was elected Basnayake Nilame of Saman Devale, Alawatugoda; later became the Basnayake Nilame of the Natha Devale in Kandy in 1958. He was a Member of the Suduhumpola Ward of the Kandy Municipal Council in 1948, and of the Katukelle Ward in 1970, until the Council was dissolved.
He was elected the 16th Diyawadana Nilame in 1964, and continued in office for ten years and was succeeded by Dr. Nissanka Wijeyeratne in 1974. Diyawadana Nilame is the office of chief lay custodian of Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Formerly an office of the royal household, today it remains a prestigious position, enriched with over two thousand years of history to safeguard and carry out ancient rituals for the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. The Diyawadana Nilame has the responsibility of overseeing of all aspects of the Sri Dalada Maligawa. He has the traditional duty of organizing the annual pageant, the Kandy Esala Perahera.
As Diyawadana Nilame Mr. Udurawana initiated the Mahamaluwa Restoration Society and obtained flood-lights gifted by the Federal Republic of Germany. On a request by the then Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the Japanese Government donated a bullet-proof glass chamber for the safety of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The first ever gift of an elephant was made by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India. Temple of the Tooth had only two elephants at that time and Mr. Udurawana owned ten elephants. The tallest elephant in Asia, "Neela", was in the possession of the Udurawana family. He made arrangements for the Buddhist monks to view the perahera in a special enclosure. He built the 'Multhenge' out of private funds.
Mr. Udurawana's legacy is that of a humanist, patriot, statesman and democrat who dedicated is life in the service of the people of Kandy and in the propagation of Buddhism. Mr. Udurawana's political career can be looked as an example for those in public life. He maintained an untarnished reputation for honesty, integrity and public service.