How to say Happy Birthday in Sinhala and not sound like an idiot

lazy but smart sinhala birthday-2Let me guess… you wanted to know how to say Happy Birthday in Sinhala because Facebook just told you that your Sinhala-speaking friend’s birthday is today and you thought, “Hey, maybe I’ll post my wishes in his/her language. That’ll be cool“?

Or perhaps it’s your Sri Lankan partner’s birthday and you wanted to give an extra special birthday wish this year (although, I hope for your sake, that you remembered it before Facebook told you)?

Either way, you decided to search online and you ended up here. Good, because then you’ll be able to relate to what I’m about to say.

I know the above title is harsh, but let me tell you why…

I too am fortunate to receive a ton of heartfelt wishes from friends all over. Granted that some of these messages are a little less thoughtful with just a straight-to-the-point ‘Happy Birthday” but hey, it’s the thought that counts (BTW, someone once just “liked” another person’s birthday wish to me. Brilliant, right? Talk about being lazy but smart…).

Anyway, every year there’ll always be a non-Sri Lankan friend of mine who gets the same bright idea to wish me Happy Birthday in Sinhala. And since he or she does not have the time to post a question in Yahoo! Answers and wait for a proper response, the next best thing is to find an online automatic translator.

I’m sure there are some good translators out there (I haven’t really searched) but based on the translated “happy birthdays” I’ve got, I’d say there might also be a couple of really crappy ones too (I’m trying my best not to say “sh*tty’ here)…

You see, one year someone wished me “su∙bȧ a∙luth auw∙rudh∙dhak vḗ∙va!”, which means “Happy new year!” in Sinhala (would’ve been perfect if I was born on the 1st of January).

Then, another year it was “aa∙yu∙bō∙wan”, which is a formal traditional greeting in Sinhala which I don’t think has ever been used as a birthday wish.

And my all-time favorite was “su∙bȧ udhḗ∙sȧ∙nak!” which just means “Good morning!”.

Okay, so maybe “idiot” was a bit of a strong word. I honestly did appreciate the effort taken by these guys to wish me in my language.

But since you’re about to wish your Sri Lankan ‘someone’ today, let me make sure you get it right the first time.


So, the correct way to say Happy Birthday in Sinhala is:

su∙bȧ u∙pan   dhi∙nȧ∙yak   vḗ∙va!


[su∙bȧ = “Happy/prosperous”; u∙pan dhi∙nȧ∙yak = “a birthday”; vḗ∙va = (indicates a wish e.g. “May you have…”)]




Now, on to the fun part…something more than just Happy Birthday in Sinhala

Below, I’ve collected some birthday related phrases that are typically said to the birthday boy or girl.

They might sound strange in English, but trust me, I’ve been asked each of the following from my relatives or my Sri Lankan friends, EVERY SINGLE YEAR! It’s almost like people run out of things to talk about after saying “Happy Birthday”…

So, depending on who you want to wish and how close you both are, use any of them by copying and pasting it into your Facebook wall post.

If you’re planning on saying it to someone verbally, try to get the same intonation as me (click on the sound icon); Believe me, they won’t know what hit ’em.


i∙thin,   a∙dhȧ   va∙yȧ∙sȧ   kee∙yȧ∙dhȧ?


“So, how old are you today?” or “So, what’s your age today?”

[i∙thin = “so”; a∙dhȧ = “today”; va∙yȧ∙sȧ = “age”; kee∙yȧ∙dhȧ? = “how much?”]

u∙pan   dhi∙nȧ∙yȧ∙tȧ   mo∙naa∙dhȧ   kȧ∙ran∙né?



‘Birthday’   é∙kȧ∙tȧ   mo∙naa∙dhȧ   kȧ∙ran∙né?


“What are you doing for your birthday?”

[u∙pan dhi∙nȧ∙yȧ∙tȧ = “for (your) birthday”; ‘birthday’ é∙kȧ∙tȧ = “for (your) birthday” (borrowed from English); mo∙naa∙dhȧ kȧ∙ran∙né = colloquial way of asking “what are you doing?”]

a∙dhȧ   paa∙ti∙yak   dhaa∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ?


“Are your throwing/having a party today?”

[a∙dhȧ = “today”; paa∙ti∙yak = “a party” (borrowed from English); dhaa∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ? = “(are you) putting?]

a∙pi∙tȧ   ‘treat’   é∙kak   ō∙né,   hoňdhḗ?


“We want a (birthday) treat, okay?”

[a∙pi∙tȧ = “for us”; ‘treat’ é∙kak = “a treat” (word borrowed from English); ō∙né = “want”; hoňdhḗ? = “ok?”]

va∙yȧ∙sȧ∙tȧ   gi∙yaa∙tȧ   thaa∙mȧ   kol∙la   va∙gḗ (for a male)



va∙yȧ∙sȧ∙tȧ   gi∙yaa∙tȧ   thaa∙mȧ   kél∙lȧ   va∙gḗ (for a female)


“Even if you have aged, you’re still like a young man/woman”

[va∙yȧ∙sȧ∙tȧ gi∙yaa∙tȧ = “although (you) have aged”; o∙yaa = “you” (informal); thaa∙mȧ = “still”; kol∙la = “boy”; kél∙lȧ = “girl”; va∙gḗ = “like”]

I’ll leave you with one that I, at the age of 33, I still get from aunts back home:

dhæn   baňdhi∙nȧ   va∙yȧ∙sȧ   ha∙ri,   nḗ?


“Now is the right age to get married, isn’t it?”

[dhæn = “now”; baňdhi∙nȧ va∙yȧ∙sȧ = “marrying age” ha∙ri = “right/correct”; nḗ? = “isn’t it?”]

Sigh…Every damn year…

Edit: I got married a few years later. But not because my aunts told me to…

Is there any other special or unusual way you wanted to wish someone Happy Birthday in Sinhala? Put it in the comments below and I’ll try to translate it for you.

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20 Responses to How to say Happy Birthday in Sinhala and not sound like an idiot

  1. jhowjow May 28, 2013 at 17:40 #

    hi Dilshan. i have a sri lankan friend and im planning on singing a happy birthday to this person. may i know how you sing happy birthday? thanks.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 28, 2013 at 22:42 #


      That’s a nice thought but unfortunately there is no such Sinhala “birthday song” that is sung at a birthday party.

      The Sri Lankans who follow the tradition of cutting the birthday cake and blowing out the candles will sing the traditional English version (“Happy birthday to you..”), which everyone knows.

      On the other hand, I do remember an old Sinhala pop song by the legendary local group The Gypsies called “suba upan dhinak vewa” (“happy birthday”), which you should be able to find on Youtube. But keep in mind this is almost never sung as the birthday song in the traditional sense.

      • jhowjow May 29, 2013 at 15:30 #

        ohhh. I see. But anyway thank you so much. I’m glad to see your blog. it’ll help me a lot.

        • Dilshan Jayasinha October 8, 2014 at 11:20 #

          You’re very welcome :)

          • Genevieve March 7, 2015 at 04:45 #

            Quick question – when they sign “happy birthday” (the english version) do they sing in Sinhala or in english?

          • Dilshan Jayasinha March 12, 2015 at 14:12 #

            I’m not sure I understood your question fully. They do sing the English version in English :)

          • Genevieve March 12, 2015 at 14:43 #

            Apologies! I wondered if there was a sinhala translated version of the english happy birthday lyrics and if so, what were they?

          • Dilshan Jayasinha April 9, 2015 at 17:53 #

            Hi again Genevieve, apart from the song I mentioned in an earlier comment, I don’t believe there is a translated version of the birthday song in Sinhala.

  2. Dino June 29, 2013 at 05:38 #

    Thank you SO much for this amazing site – please keep up the good work and keep more coming! Fantastic!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha June 29, 2013 at 09:43 #

      …and thank you for the fantastic feedback Dino. Much appreciated.

  3. Andrea December 4, 2013 at 14:50 #

    Thanks a lot! I have a friend from Colombo who never wants to teach me anything in Sinhala and today is his b-day.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha December 7, 2013 at 18:35 #

      Ha, now you’ve a range of lines to throw at him! Serves him right for not teaching you :)

      Let me know how he reacts. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Leticia March 27, 2014 at 05:31 #

    Hi, Dilshan! Nice to meet you! I found your blog today and I’m sooooo glad! I have a friend from Sri Lanka, he’s from Matale. And since I’ve met him I want to learn the language, but he doesn’t have too much time to teach me and the time he has he wants to practice english.
    I’ve been looking for translation websites but I couldn’t find anything interesting. It will be his birthday very soon and I’m happy I´ll be able to send him my greetings in sinhala.
    Also I’m very happy I can learn to speak it!
    Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge and your time! This blog is just GREAT!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha April 2, 2014 at 19:56 #

      Hi Leticia,

      Like I said in my reply to your email, thanks for all the kind words. Welcome to the LBSS blog and I hope you have a fun time here. Take care and thanks again!

  5. Linda September 24, 2014 at 18:20 #

    Hi Dilshan,

    first of all thanks for this amazing blog. I´ve said it before but I can´t help repeating it. I love, love, love this blog! Since I´ve spent three month in an english language school in Sri Lanka I keep in touch with the folks and send them my wishes for their birthdays etc. Also planning on coming back to vist sometimes soon. Now there is a sweet little girl whom I was very close to and she is going to turn 5 soon.

    I was wondering if there are any more phrases especially for kids? Instead of the “Isn´t it time to get married soon” and “.. one year older but you still look like a young woman..” maybe something like” Won´t you be going to school as of next year? Are you excited about it?” or ” What was the best gift that you´ve got this year?” “Will you bring some friends home for a little party?” or “You´re growing so fast. I hope I´ll see you again before you´ll be taller than me”.

    I guess you might be pretty busy so it´s no rush. Just if you´ve got a minute it´d be much appreciated. Thanks and hello from rainy Germany :)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha October 8, 2014 at 11:35 #

      Hi Linda! Happy to hear from you again.Sorry for taking so long to respond.

      Thanks for your question! I love it when readers already suggest the phrases to me rather than sending me just the broad idea without a single example.

      Here goes:

      Won´t you be going to school as of next year?
      o∙yaa é∙nȧ awu∙rudh∙dhé is∙kō∙lé pa∙tan gan∙nȧ∙va nḗ∙dhȧ?
      (Lit: “You’re starting school next year, isn’t it?”)

      Are you excited about it?
      o∙yaa ḗ∙kȧ gæ∙nȧ san∙thō∙sȧ∙dhȧ?
      (Lit: “Are you happy about it?”)

      What was the best gift that you´ve got this year?
      o∙yaa∙tȧ mḗ awu∙rudh∙dhé ham∙bȧ véch∙chȧ hoňdhȧmȧ thǣg∙gȧ mo∙kak∙dhȧ?
      (Lit: same as what you asked for)

      Will you bring some friends home for a little party?
      po∙di uth∙sȧ∙vȧ∙yȧ∙kȧ∙tȧ o∙yaa∙gé yaa∙lu∙wan∙vȧ gé∙dhȧ∙rȧ∙tȧ aňda ga∙ha∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ?
      (Lit: same as what you asked for)

      You´re growing so fast.
      o∙yaa ha∙ri ik∙mȧ∙nȧ∙tȧ lo∙ku vé∙nȧ∙va
      (Lit: “You are becoming big so fast”)

      I hope I´ll see you again before you´ll be taller than me”
      ma∙tȧ va∙daa u∙sȧ yan∙nȧ is∙sél∙la o∙yaa∙vȧ aayith dha∙kin∙nȧ ham∙bȧ vu∙noth hoňdhayi
      (Lit: “It’ll be good to see you again before you become taller than me”)

      Hope that helped Linda and sorry again for the delay.

      Greetings from RAINY Sri Lanka (it has barely stopped since yesterday morning!!)

  6. Kate October 24, 2014 at 12:31 #

    Hi Dilshan!

    Thank you so much for this. I have a sponsor child in Sri Lanka and I wanted to attempt a Sinhala birthday greeting for her card this year as well as English and Irish. I hope she will be happy with it :)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 2, 2014 at 06:57 #

      You’re very welcome, Kate. Please do let me know how the little one reacts? :)

      Also, how do you say happy birthday in Irish/Gaeilge?

  7. Bettie January 7, 2015 at 17:39 #

    I want to wish my friend Sandeepa a Happy Birthday today. I’m posting it to Facebook, so I can’t cut and paste the phrases above. Can you post the actual symbols (write it in Sinhalese). I sponsored him for over ten years and he turns 21 today. I’m so proud of him!

  8. Mhel December 3, 2018 at 13:09 #

    Thank you for this. BTW, my partner is a Srilankan and we have a 7-year old kid. Never had a chance to know the word HAPPY BIRTHDAY in sinhala. He’ll be surprise. Thanks

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