Ananda College (Sinhala: ආනන්ද විද්යාලය), Colombo, is a national school for boys, with a student population exceeding 7,000 across 13 grades from primary to secondary classes, on a campus of 20 acres (81,000 m2) in the suburb of Maradana. The College, incepted as a result of the Sri Lankan Buddhist Renaissance which took place in the late 19th century, continues to be a premier boys' school in the country, producing countless Sri Lankan erudite scholars, professionals, military servicemen and all around well-disciplined citizens. It was established on November 1, 1886, by the Buddhist Theosophical Society led by Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and became a government school in 1961. As of 2016 an academic staff of more than 150 was led by Mr. S.M. Keerthiratne. Ananda College is often cited as the crowning glory of Sri Lankan Buddhist education.
Following a meeting of Buddhists at Pettah, under the patronage of Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera, an English-Buddhist school was inaugurated at No. 61 Maliban Street, Colombo, on 1 November 1886 by the Buddhist Theosophical Society. C. W. Leadbeater was appointed the first principal of "Ananda today". The first session was attended by 37 students.
By the time the school was officially registered in March 1889, there were 120 students. In August 1889, it was moved to more spacious premises at No. 19 Prince Street. That same year, J. P. R. Weerasuriya became the first Anandian to pass the Cambridge junior examination.
In March 1890, the school's proximity to a Catholic school led to controversy—and a move to 54 Maliban Street where further growth ensued, and student enrolments rose to 200 in September 1892 and 270 in 1894. That year, Mr Tudor Rajapaksha donated 3.2 acres (13,000 m2) of land and the school was relocated in the suburb of Maradana. On 17 August 1895, the former English Buddhist School was renamed as Ananda College Colombo.
By 1961, the college had officially become a government school.
The iconic Ananda Viharaya, the inspirational and stirring landmark of Ananda College is undoubtedly the most easily distinguishable building of the college. The foundation stone for the Vihara mandiraya was laid by Late Prime Minister, Hon. Dudly Senanayake on 29 January 1953 during the tenure of Mr. L.H. Mettananda. The model of the "Mulagandhakuti Viharaya" has been replicated when designing the building and the Buddha statue has been designed by Venerable Kalasoori Mapalagama Vipulasara Thero.
Completed under Col. E.A. Perusinghe, Late Governor, Honourable William Goppallawa handed over the Viharaya to the School on 6 March 1969. A magnificent edifice constructed to cater to the spiritual needs of the students. The Vihara Mandiraya has become indispensably and irrevocably intertwined with the identity of Ananda College. Venerated by students, teachers and the administration and all who visit the College premises, the Ananda Vihara Mandiraya by such virtue has become the Third Most venerated Buddhist shrine in the world.Fritz Kunz Memorial Trophy – This is the school's most prestigious lifetime achievement trophy, given to the "most outstanding Anandian" passing out from the school each year.
Anada Minimuthu Award – This is the school's second best prize which is awarded at the annual prize giving for the best student in each grade.
Dr. Keerthi Rajapakse Memorial Trophy – This is awarded at the annual prize giving to the prefect with most outstanding academic performance.
Ananda Pradeepa Trophy – This is awarded at the annual prize giving to the student with highest marks for each subject in GCE Advanced Level examination.
C. W. Leadbeater Challenge Trophy
S. A. Wijethilaka Memorial Challenge Trophy
A. E. Bultjens Challenge Trophy
J. T. Davis Challenge Trophy
K. G. Maddumahewage Challenge Trophy
Most Outstanding Sportsman Trophy – This is the most prestigious award a sportsman can achieve at the school, awarded annually at the school Colours Night to a sportsman who has made outstanding achievements in his field of sports.
Ananda Padma Award – Presented for outstanding achievement in sports as a student.
The students are divided among four houses:Parakrama – Colour – Red
Vijaya – Colour – Dark Green
Asoka – Colour – Dark Purple
Gamunu – Colour – Navy Blue
The houses are named after the four main ancient Sinhala kings of Sri Lanka. An annual track-and-field tournament among these houses is held at the beginning of the first term.
In a tradition dating back to 1924, an annual cricket contest is held between Ananda College and Nalanda College Colombo. The two schools have contributed many players to the Sri Lanka national cricket team, including the old Anandians Sidath Wettimuny recipient of Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1985, Arjuna Ranatunga – who captained the Sri Lanka Cricket team to victory in the 1996 Cricket World Cup and who was also named as a Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1999 – former Test captain Marvan Atapattu and T20 captain Dinesh Chandimal.
Sir D. B. Jayatilleke, the then principal, conceived the idea of the Ananda College Old Boys' Association in 1908. Initially its main function was to organise a sports-meet and the annual dinner. In subsequent years the OBA and the school's administration have co-operated in furthering the development of the College. Prior to 1961 (when the school was nationalised) the incumbent principal of the school presided over the OBA. Since that date, a president is elected by members at each annual general meeting.
Students at the Ananda College run over 40 clubs and organizations, including cultural and religious groups, academic clubs and teams, and common-interest organizations. These student societies include:
Olcott oration is an annual event organized by the old boys association of Ananada College, which commemorate the founder Colonel Henry Steel Olcott of Ananda College and other leading Buddhist schools in Sri Lanka. Every year famous personalities who educated at Ananda College, share their own experience for the "Olcott oration" and renowned dignitaries who have delivered the oration in the past, include Prof. Nimal Rajapakshe, Prof. Sumedha Chandana Wirasinghe and Prof. Ravindra Fernando.
The Ananda College war memorial is situated in front of the Henry Steel Olcott Hall, and is dedicated to alumni of Ananda college who died while members of the Sri Lankan armed forces. Lieutenant A.P.N. P de Vas Gunawardana on 23 July 1983 became the first Anandian officer to sacrifice his life while in the Military. The plaque bears the names of old Anandians who were killed in the line of duty which includes the names of 45 war heroes from the Sri Lanka Army, and many more names of war heroes from the sri Lanka Navy and the Sri Lanka Air Force. Ananda College OBA organises an annual "Ananda Viruharasara" event to honour military dead.Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero
Sikkim Mahinda Thero
Polwatte Buddhadatta Mahanayake Thera
Gunapala Piyasena Malalasekera
Agampodi Paulus de Zoysa
Tuan Burhanudeen Jayah
R. A. Chandrasena
Rev. Dr. Kotagama Vachissara Thero
Ven. Atapattukande Ananda Thero
Ven. Kallal Elle Ananda Sagara Thero alias Keyas (1945–1947)