70th Independence Day Celebrations of the Consulate General of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in Sydney, Australia
The 70th Independence Day of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka was celebrated by the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Sydney, Australia on Monday, 5th February 2018 at the Great Hall of The University of Sydney.
The event commenced with a reception held on the North Lawn adjoining the Great Hall of The University of Sydney where 400 plus guests were treated to Sri Lankan food.
The evening’s proceedings commenced with the singing of the National Anthem of Sri Lanka followed by the National Anthem of Australia. The traditional oil lamp was lit by the Hon. Scott Farlow, Parliament Secretary to the Premier in the Legislative Council representing the Premier and the Minister for Multiculturalism and Disability Services of the New South Wales, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka H.E. Somasundaram Skandakumar, Ms Rhonda Piggott, Director of New South Wales State Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) and Ms Jane Louise Connolly, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps representing the Consuls General attended and dignitaries.
Religious blessings were performed by Venerable Pundit Meegahakumbure Dhammagavesi Thero, Chief Prelate of the Malwatta Chapter of the Siamese Sect in Australia, Rev. Father Chaminda Wanigasekera, Mr. Ubaidur Rahman Mahmood and Kurukkal Arumugam Iyer. Two minutes silence was observed to commemorate all who sacrificed their lives serving the Nation. The message of His Excellency the President was read by Mr. M.M. Abdul Raheem, Consul (Commercial).
The Consul General welcomed the invited guests who included Members of NSW Parliament; Consuls General accredited to New South Wales, friends of Sri Lanka and expatriate Sri Lankans. Consul General commended the Sri Lankan expatriate community, majority consisting of professionals in wide and varied disciplines performing at high levels, apart from blending very well with the community at large, as expressed, time and again by the Australian Government authorities. He also welcomed the spirit of reconciliation shown by the different ethnic groups of Sri Lankan origin in New South Wales and Queensland. He urged them to move beyond by sharing their professional experiences and knowledge with Sri Lankan counterparts. The High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in his address endorsed what the Consul General has stated in his welcome speech and added that Sri Lanka has had many achievements as well as setbacks since independence, and it was time for all Sri Lankans to reach their true potential and the nation itself to move towards a highly developed country. He stated that all be treated equally and with equal opportunity Sri Lanka would develop. Sri Lanka gifted with many resources is expected to grow now that reconciliation and unity is in the forefront of governance.
Hon. Scott Farlow, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier stated that he has had great connections with expatriate Sri Lankans from his school days and regarded them as a highly intelligent people who have contributed towards the development of Australia. He congratulated Sri Lanka on reaching 70 years of independence and wished the people more strength and courage in their forward journey.
Ms Rhonda Piggott, State Director of DFAT too congratulated Sri Lanka on achieving this milestone and recounted the people to people friendships and collaborations in the fields of commerce, agriculture, education and border protection amongst cultural and sporting ties to be the highlights of the two countries.
Dr. Siran Deraniyagala, the Keynote Speaker shared his vast knowledge in the field of Archaeology and Sri Lanka’s Pre-history through a detailed Power Point presentation which was well received by the large audience.
A song from the Sinhala Movie ‘Hithaka Pipuna Mal’, lyrics by Fr. Marcelline Jayakody, music by Dr. Shelton Premaratne, reproduced by Mr. Agra Premaratne was harmonised by Ms Ishi Yogya and Ms Their Kulatilake, which was hailed by the audience.
The song was followed by a dance choreographed and presented by Ms Anandavalli of Lingalayam Dance Company with three dancers performing an evocative movement to the strains of “Danno Budunge”sung by the Acapella Group Voice Print who were flown in courtesy of Sri Lankan Airlines to perform at this event and they proceeded to sing a medley of songs spanning from 1948 to date covering the evolving of Sri Lankan music and songs which kept the large audience enthralled. The event concluded with the Vote of Thanks by Ms Pramuditha Manusinghe, Consul.