At one point or another, we have all wondered whether we are truly alone in this universe ‒ especially when news reports like this one crop up.

Science may not yet be able to tell us for sure whether or not there are intelligent lifeforms out there, but, like everything else that disrupts everyday life in our country, rumours of alien landings and UFO sightings naturally attract our attention.

Photo of what is believed to be the most recent sighting of a UFO that was seen in Ratnapura, Hambantota, Galle and Matara. No conclusive information was found on the matter, however. Image courtesy: newsfirst.lk

Sri Lanka’s Unidentified Flying Object Research Association, (yes, such a thing exists. Or did, at some point) or SLUFORA, used to be the only established research organisation that looked into reports of UFO sightings and extraterrestrial visitations that supposedly occurred in the island. The Association, which was inaugurated in 1998, was the only group with expertise in ufology ‒ the study of reports, visual records, physical evidence, and other phenomena related to unidentified flying objects (UFOs).

However, the group has since disbanded, leaving behind some of the association’s case files, which were published as a book in 2006.

The first few records of UFO sightings ‒ or ‘close encounters of the first kind’, which, according to the Hynek’s scale in ufology, is an event in which a person witnesses an unidentified flying object ‒ have been reported in Sri Lanka in the late 1960s and the 1970s. Yet, not much information is available practically anywhere, due to a lack of witness reports. The decades following, however, seem to have had some interesting (sometimes spooky) stories to tell.

Polonnaruwa, 1984

The first major incident recorded by the SLUFORA occurred in Polonnaruwa, in 1984.

As per the inquiry reports of the SLUFORA, a blue spherical object was seen in the sky at around 12.30 one afternoon, in Mahawewa, Polonnaruwa.

According to accounts of the three children and a school teacher who witnessed the incident, the object had landed adjacent to a nearby school, after which an obscure, humanoid creature had emerged from the object. The experience had reportedly shocked the three students, who had then fled the area.

Bandarawela, 1998

Going by alleged sightings in Sri Lanka, school children seem to have a knack for spotting unusual phenomena, particularly of the extraterrestrial variety.

The SLUFORA has recorded, in its casefile BAN-CE-II, how, in Bandarawela in 1998, two students aged 8 and 10 witnessed what they described as a large, disc-shaped object emitting red and yellow lights landing in their school grounds after it had hovered several feet in the air.

According to one of the students, the object had a diameter of approximately eight feet and was seven feet in height.

The report further noted that the students had witnessed a similar object hovering in the sky above the school on previous occasions, too. The two students had not approached the UFO, which they claimed had landed, and then hovered for several minutes before taking off. According to the report, however, the object had not made any indentations on the ground where it was supposed to have landed.

Around the same time, others from the area also claimed to have witnessed a similar object streak across the sky and disappear into the horizon.

The SLUFORA concludes the report saying that it was, therefore, unlikely that this phenomenon was fabricated, due to the similarities in different eyewitness accounts.  

Kosgama, 2000

In January 2000, three residents of Bollaththewa, Kosgama, claimed to have witnessed a glowing ball-like object speeding across the sky. According to the SLUFORA casefile KOS-CE-I, the spherical UFO also reportedly emitted a blinking blue light but had been around 200 feet above ground.

The object had reportedly zigzagged across the night sky several times before disappearing. According to the SLUFORA, three witnesses had observed the object in three separate areas.

The SLUFORA report concludes, however, that the eyewitness reports were contradictory, because the individuals had offered different descriptions, such as on how large the object was, the colour of the light emitted, and the speed at which it travelled.

Polonnaruwa, 2002

The most prolific UFO sighting pursued by the SLUFORA was recorded in 2002, when, apparently, a wave of UFO sightings took place over a particular period of time.

According to the SLUFORA casefile POL-CE-II-001, over the course of one month, more than 100 individuals had reported to have witnessed single or multiple UFO sightings in the Polonnaruwa area. And more importantly, various reports that came from all over the Polonnaruwa region possessed eerie similarities, pushing the investigators to conclude that this might not have been a contrived phenomenon.  

Eyewitness reports had stated that a large number of glowing spherical objects had been seen hovering in the sky. These objects were always seen in clusters, emitting coloured lights from several feet above the ground. The clusters were reported to have had erratic fly patterns and then speed away after staying air-bourne for several minutes.

The phenomenon attracted the attention of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), who had deployed investigators in Polonnaruwa to check out the mysterious sightings.

A photo of an “unusual atmospheric occurrence” taken by a retired RAF officer who was holidaying in Sri Lanka in March 2004. It was later debated if it could have been a UFO. Image courtesy: bbc.com

Thanamalvila, 2006

This more recent incident, although not inquired into by the SLUFORA, gained notoriety in local media.

The allegations of alien visitors came after strange sightings in different parts of the country, including Galle. Two children and their grandmother, returning home from a bath in the river, claimed to have met with certain humanoid creatures who were described as not more than two feet tall, standing in the middle of their path.

The children narrating the encounter had told the media that the three “persons” had dark complexions, and had been wearing hats, but had disappeared shortly after being spotted.

At the time, investigators are believed to have commenced inquiries into the incident, after similar encounters were reported from the Thanamalvila area as well. According to reports, over 50 people claimed to have actually witnessed these creatures, and even stumbled upon footprints supposedly left behind.

The incidents were dismissed by the police, local scientists, and others who attributed the sightings to disguised thieves who were trying to distract people. In spite of this, for some time at least, villagers were left alarmed and worried.

Are We Truly Alone?

Well, then…

Science may have passed many milestones, but this is one of those questions that has remained unanswered. Sightings of unusual, seemingly otherworldly phenomena, have been attributed to many things: drones or oddly-shaped aircraft, strange cloud formations, birds, insects, or perhaps even an overactive imagination.

But taking into account the many sightings (or supposed sightings) of strange creatures and flying objects reported over a period of time in Sri Lanka alone, one can’t help wondering, if ‒ supposing if they were all for real, what obsession could the extraterrestrials possibly have had with this little island nation?

Featured image courtesy bbc.com