Old Malay military mosque, now an abandoned icon
Built by the British Malay Rifle Regiment in 1854, the historic Masjidul Jamiah mosque served as a spiritual place for Malays military from colonial times to the 21st century. The Malay people have a long history of service in the forces. Many laid their lives down for the country in the war against the LTTE. Java Lane was a lovely little lane and the mosque was an important meeting place for the neighbourhood community, but a massive housing project has left the mosque abandoned and boarded in with anonymous high rises. As a sign of support, the other mosques in the area encourage their devotees to visit the Java mosque so that it isn’t forgotten. Services are in English and Tamil.
The eviction of residents in an area approximately 160 acres in the heart of Colombo 02 began in 2012. Seventy thousand households are being relocated to newly constructed apartment-style housing in other parts of the city. It is part of an ambitious USD287 million ‘City of Colombo Urban Regeneration Project’ spearheaded by the Urban Development Authority fuelled by Chinese and Indian money. The scale and speed of the project is mindboggling with some streets simply being erased from the map and with it the social fabric and memories of place. Java Lane is one of them.