Sri Lanka High Commission in London commemorates 68th Independence Day
By Janaka Alahapperuma
Feb 15, 2016

The High Commission of Sri Lanka in the UK (London) commemorated the 68th Independence Day celebrations on 4th February 2016. The proceedings of the official ceremony in the morning commenced with the hoisting of the national flag by Acting High Commissioner Sugeeshwara Gunaratne in the backdrop of the sound of the ceremonial drums (magul bera) followed by the singing of the National Anthem. The event was attended by a wide cross-section of members of the Sri Lankan community in the UK.

Two minutes silence was observed in honor of all patriots who have laid down their lives to preserve and protect the freedom, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

Following the lighting of the traditional oil lamp, multi-religious observances were conducted. Religious observances representing all four major religions in Sri Lanka; Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam were conducted by the Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thero, Sivasri Supramaniyak Kurukkal, Rev. Fr. Daya Perera, and Moulavi Mohamed Anas respectively, blessed the country, the leaders and the people.

While reading out excerpts from the independence day messages of President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Acting High Commissioner Sugeeshwara Gunaratna stated that the Government was engaged in the twin tasks of building a lasting peace between our communities through ongoing reconciliation efforts while at the same time engaging in a concerted development drive aimed at restructuring the economy, attracting investment and boosting exports. The end vision of both the reconciliation and development drives was the creation of a prosperous, modern democracy based on good governance, rule of law and a truly meaningful parliamentary system. Addressing the ceremony, he requested the Sri Lankan community members in the UK to extend their hands to the efforts of the government to consolidate on the hard won peace and freedom achieved and in taking the country forward.

Printed copies of the Independence Day messages of the President, Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister were distributed in Sinhala, Tamil and English at the beginning of the ceremony. To conclude the ceremony the National Anthem of Sri Lanka was sung in Tamil language.

On 5th February, the Acting High Commissioner hosted a separate reception for the members of the diplomatic corps, Lords and Members of the House of Commons, representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, representatives of international organizations in London, Mayors and Councillors, academics and the business community with interests in Sri Lanka. Acting High Commissioner Sugeeshwara Gunaratna during his welcoming address highlighted the enhanced bilateral relations between UK and Sri Lanka and briefed the invitees about the developments in Sri Lanka including Sri Lanka’s achievements during the last 68 years, especially in the area of human development. While encouraging those present to strengthen linkages with Sri Lanka, he noted that in many ways it was an exciting time to be in Sri Lanka and a number of travellers’ magazines have rated Sri Lanka quite highly. He highlighted the fact that the Association of British Travel Agents has included Sri Lanka as one of the 12 destinations expected to capture consumers’ imagination in 2016. UK’s Harper’s Bazaar Magazine has put Sri Lanka at No. 3 in tourism hot spots around the world, Condé Nast Travellers Magazine has put Sri Lanka at No. 2 while Lonely Planet has put Sri Lanka among the Dream Trips for 2016. He ended his short address with a toast to the good health of Her Majesty The Queen while Her Majesty’s Marshall Alistair Harrison raised a toast to the good health of His Excellency The President of Sri Lanka.

At both events Sri Lankan traditional cuisine, complemented with Sri Lankan sweets and Ceylon tea were served to the guests at the end of the ceremony.

Source: Sri Lanka High Commission- London

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