Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New York's Asia Society Reverberates to the Rhythms of Kandyan Drums

By Pushpi Weerakoon

The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations hosted a well attended Concert and Reception at the prestigious Asia Society for the diplomatic community, senior UN personnel and members of the business and social elite of New York to mark the 63rd anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence. Over 120 Permanent Missions were represented at the event. The guests were treated to a memorable evening of classical music, jazz and traditional Sri Lankan dance by Sri Lanka’s own artistes. Maestro Rohan de Silva was at the piano with Ms. Sujeeva Hapugalle, Paul Metzke enthralled the audience with the guitar and Ms. Yolande Bavan, the perennial jazz favorite, kept their toes tapping. The Chitrasena dance group enraptured the audience with throbbing Kandyan drums and Kohomba Kankari for the first time.

While the Asia Society audience was regaled to an incomparable treat in music and dance, a confident nation itself is reaching forward to a period of expanded freedom and expedited growth following the end of the conflict in 2009. As President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in his Independence Day message “We must set right the errors of both past and present in this march towards greater freedom, won through divisions, which leads to the loss of freedom for us all. Therefore, building a united Sri Lanka is the best means by which freedom can be secured and given more meaning. We must have the same commitment to building a united nation as we had in defending our country.” Foreign Minister Professor G.L. Peiris said “With the advent of a durable peace after the successful elimination of terrorism in Sri Lanka, our principal focus has been on steering the nation on the right course to achieve accelerated social and economic development across the country, which would benefit people from all parts of the country.” Dr. Palitha Kohona, the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations stated in his message 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 to the international community. United, we must embrace the world.”

The occasion was graced by the presence of Permanent Representatives and Deputy Permanent Representatives of over 120 countries, including, India, Russia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, The Ireland, Serbia, Spain, Syria, Cuba, Fiji, Australia, Mongolia, Rumania, Hungary, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Israel, Bosnia, Slovania, Qatar and Brazil.

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