Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New York Sri Lankan expatriates celebrate the National Independence Day

By Pushpi Weerakoon

The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations hosted a Concert and Reception at the Forest Hills High school New York to mark the 63rd anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence. Over 1200 Sri Lankan expatriates and well wishers were present at the event, the largest gathering in the history of Independence celebrations in New York. The guests were treated to a memorable evening by the renowned Chithrasena Vajira dance ensemble, in addition to the music and drama performed by the Sri Lankan community, representing all five boroughs in New York, the state of New Jersey and Boston.

The occasion was graced by H.E. Ambassador Dr Palitha Kohona along with Major General Shavendra Silva Deputy Permanent Representative who inaugurated the event by lighting the traditional oil lamp along with a group of children representing the multiethnic Sri Lankan community. The official event consisted of hoisting of the national flag, singing of the national anthem and jayamangala gatha. Addressing the gathering Dr. Palitha Kohona, stated that “Those Sri Lankans who live overseas have a seminal contribution to make as the nation forges ahead. We must continue to convey the best possible image of Sri Lanka internationally and help to build bridges and foster understanding – Bridges among ourselves and with the international community.”

Following blessings by the Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu and Islamic religious dignitaries, the cultural event which lasted the rest of the evening began with a serene pooja dance to pay obeisance to mother Lanka. The other items included patriotic songs and dramas in Sinhala, Tamil and English. The Chitrasena dance group enchanted the audience with throbbing Kandyan drums and excerpts from the Kohomba Kankariya.

The traditional Sri Lankan buffet dinner added spice to the rekindled patriotism and unity among the participants. The event as a whole was highly acclaimed and praised by the attendees as the best National Day celebration to date.

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