65th Independence Day celebrations in Washington DC
By Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington DC
Feb 15, 2013
The Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC celebrated the 65thAnniversary of the Independence of Sri Lanka with a spectacular cultural evening at the University of the District of Columbia on Saturday, February 9. Approximately one thousand Sri Lankan – American community members and distinguished invitees including United States Congressmen , senior government officials and Washington based Ambassadors witnessed the biggest Sri Lankan cultural event held outside of Sri Lanka.
Co-chair of the Congressional Sri Lanka Caucus Congressman Hon. Robert Aderholt, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Sub Committee on Asia and the Pacific Congressman Hon. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dr. Alyssa Ayres and visiting Sri Lankan Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy Hon. Susil Premajayanth delivered remarks.
Minister of Public Management Reforms Hon. Navin Dissanayake, former US envoy to Sri Lanka Ambassador Patricia Butenis, Indian Ambassador to US Her Excellency Mrs. Nirupama Rao and senior diplomats in Washington were also in attendance .
Dr. Alyssa Ayres, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs read the message of US President His Excellency Barack Obama for Sri Lanka’s Independence Day. Dr . Ayers also spoke about her pleasant experience in Sri Lanka recently and expressed the aspiration of the United States to be a partner with Sri Lanka’s post-conflict progress.
Hon. Robert Aderholt, addressing the audience said that he truly values the opportunity he has to help US- Sri Lanka relations as the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus.
“It is our collective responsibility to share the real of story of Sri Lanka , a country we all know of love and peace and certainly a nation that is governed by democracy, also, a nation that strives for the protection of Human rights and the rule of law.”, he opined.
Congressman Aderholt commending Sri Lanka’s post conflict –achievements said that the continued implementation of Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission Recommendations, successful resettlement and redevelopment activities and rehabilitation and reintegration of former combatants are the true testament for Sri Lanka’s commitment to a brighter future .
Congressman Hon. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega in his address recalled the painful past of the US before becoming the free and prosperous nation it is today.
“I recall that we went through a terrible soul searching situation even in this country. Well over 600,000 soldiers lost their lives, in that terrible conflict, we know as the civil war from 1860 to 1865. And there was a question whether or not slavery would be continued as an institution in this country. And, of course, thanks to President Abraham Lincoln the country continues to be what it is today.”, he said.
He also opined that the beauty of American Democracy is the efforts made by the nation to correct its mistakes.
“I sincerely hope that the efforts will continue to take place in terms of reconciliation , to see that the good people of Sri Lanka will find peace and unity , and prosperity to years to come .”, he added,
Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy of Sri Lanka Hon. Susil Premjayanth, said that Sri Lanka is now on the right path with strong focus on development under the leadership of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa .
Minister Premjayanth also requested Sri Lanka community and US government representatives to support Sri Lanka’s journey towards brighter future after 30 years of conflict.
His Excellency Mr. Jaliya Wickramasuriya , the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States delivered the keynote address.
“There is no more conflict. There is no more suffering. There is no loss of life due to terrorism. Sri Lanka today is a country at peace. This is the reality about Sri Lanka today”, Ambassador Wickramasuriya said.
“This is what we must show the world – the image of Sri Lanka as a peaceful and reconciled society which is governed by democracy, the observance of human rights and rule of law”, he added .
Ambassador Wickramasuriya also highlighted the vital role that Sri Lankans living in US and other countries have to play in Sri Lanka’s growth and development.
“As Sri Lankan Americans, please continue to play your vital role in Sri Lanka’s growth and development. Whether you can offer your service to help with humanitarian work, offer your investment, offer support to help Sri Lankans regain their livelihoods, or even offer your voice to spread the correct story of Sri Lanka”, he said.
“It is our duty to offer support to our Sri Lankan brothers and sisters who are finally safe and at peace, have so many new opportunities, and are looking forward”, he added.
The Independence Day message of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa , the President of Sri Lanka was read by the Deputy Chief of Mission, Ambassador Esala Weerakoon.
The events of the celebration commenced with the Ambassador hoisting the National flag and a choir comprising one hundred Sri Lankan American children singing the National Anthem. Mrs.Anjalika Silva, a Washington area Sri Lankan soprano, sang the U.S. National Anthem
The audience observed one-minute silence in honor of the fallen war heroes. A group US-Sri Lankan teenagers, performed Jayamanagla Gatha and lighting of traditional oil lamp was performed in keeping with the age old Sri Lankan traditions.
Chief Incumbent of Washington Buddhist Vihara Venerable Maharagama Dhammasiri Nayake Thero , and Chief Incumbent of Maryland Buddhist Vihara, Venerable Katugastota Uparatana Nayake Thero conducted Buddhist religious observances. Swami Sivanatha Kurukkal ,Mr. Naseer Azeez and Dr.Greg Fernandopulle invoked blessings according to Hindu , Islam and Christian traditions respectively.
The two hour cultural spectacular featured internationally renowned dance troupe, Visha School of Dance from Sri Lanka directed by the eminent dance teacher and choreographer Visha De Silva . The performances also showcased the professional and budding Sri Lankan talent from the greater Washington area.
Sri Lankan professional choreographers and dance teachers in US ; Asanga Domask, Chathuri Wickramarachchi and Nisha Niroshini displayed the best of Sri Lankan culture with their performances and of their students . Ms. Sandali Chandradasa, another Sri Lankan American dance artiste performed the Bharatanatyam. Guest Sri Lankan musician S.W. Sampath rendered the patriotic Sri Lankan classic “Sasara Wasana Thuru” of maestro W.D. Amaradewa.
Deputy Chief of Mission, Ambassador Esala Weerakoon proposed the vote of thanks before the conclusion of the event with a grand finale.
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