The 66th anniversary of Independence of Sri Lanka was commemorated at events held in Paris. Religious observances were conducted at the Embassy of Sri Lanka with religious dignitaries representing the Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islamic faiths offering blessings on the country and the people.
Following an alms giving, the national flag of Sri Lanka was hoisted, followed by the singing of the national anthem, lighting of the traditional oil lamp and the observances of two minutes of silence for patriots and fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives for the nation. The 66th Independence Day messages were read in Sinhala, Tamil and English.
Ambassador Karunaratne Hangawatte addressed the gathering and highlighted the need for all communities to unite to preserve the hard won peace in the country.
A Diplomatic and Community reception was held at the main reception hall of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Ambassador Hangawatte addressed the gathering and spoke about the efforts under way in the country and the achievements made thus far.
Ambassador Hangawatte noted that while independence was gained in 1948, and strides made in the ensuing years, it wasn’t until 2009 that Sri Lanka was able to rid itself of the evil of terrorism and the resulting turmoil that plagued the island for three decades.
He added that the noble beliefs of compassion and care reside in the hearts and minds of Sri Lankans, having inherited these values from an ancient civilization, proud heritage and a rich and vibrant culture shaped primarily by Buddhism, and then Hinduism, Christianity and Islam as well.
Sri Lankans have lived for generations in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society in harmony and unison.
It is through such means that the country has striven to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society those who took up arms against the state instead of opting for vindictive and punitive measures, he said. While stressing the need for patience with a country that has not only grappled with terrorism but also defeated it, he said that “we look to our friends across the world to comprehend the magnitude of the task at hand and understand what has been accomplished so far.” Speaking on the beauty and attractive nature of the country, Ambassador Hangawatte said that Sri Lanka is blessed with natural beauty of golden beaches, fauna and flora, green hills, exquisite wild life and man-made wonders including eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, that make it rated as a top tourist destination.
Senator Nathalie Goulet, Senator for Orne and President of the newly created France Sri Lanka Friendship Committee in the Senate of France, recalled her visit to Sri Lanka last year.
The audience was enthralled thereafter by a cultural presentation in which differing dance forms from across the island were incorporated to provide the guests with a spectacular display.
The presentation conveying the message of unity and peace by Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim youth of the Sri Lankan Diaspora in Paris captivated the guests with their artistic ability and united spirit.
The 66th anniversary of the Independence of Sri Lanka was held at the Reiyukai Hall in Tokyo. The event organised by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Tokyo was held with the participation of a large gathering of Sri Lankan expatriates in Japan.
The Independence Day celebrations began with religious observances performed by Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian clergy, the reading of Independence Day messages of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne and External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L.Peiris.
A special cultural dance performance was performed by a three-member dance troupe comprising Sri Lankan students in Japan.
Addressing the gathering, Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Japan Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda said the longstanding relations between Japan and Sri Lanka will further continue to grow stronger in the coming years.
He also stressed that although the two countries had commemorated 60 years of diplomatic ties in 2012, the relations and strong ties date back many centuries to the time of the first envoys both from Japan, Rev. Shaku Kozen in 1887 and from Sri Lanka, Col. Sir Henry Steel Olcott in 1889 who extended visits to each other’s countries to expand ties in Buddhism.
Ambassador Admiral Karannagoda also highlighted the growing economic ties between the two countries with the first milestone in 1972 being the establishment of a joint venture between Noritake of Japan and the Ceylon Ceramics Corporation.
Since then, Japanese investment has contributed immeasurably to the country’s economic development, particularly in electronics, ceramics, engineering and metal based sectors, he said.
The ambassador said total Japanese investments to Sri Lanka for the past three years is US $ 560 million.
He said a result of the effective tourism promotional work by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Japan, the number of Japanese tourists visiting Sri Lanka has risen to 31,505 which is a 21percent increase in comparison to 2012.
He said the Tourism Resources Improvement Project (TRIP) which commenced in 2011 with loan assistance from JICA is currently progressing in Japan under the stewardship of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Tokyo in collaboration with the Economic Development Ministry, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the ADEX advertising agency in Japan.
Ambassador Admiral Karannagoda commended the role played by the Sri Lankan community in Japan stating that it is their contribution in different spheres that has currently made Sri Lanka an attractive destination in Japan, in terms of travel and investment.
The participants at the Independence Day celebrations participated in a breakfast reception which included traditional milk rice and Sri Lankan sweet-meats.
The Sri Lankan Embassy staff, joined by their families, students, community members and well-wishers in Cuba celebrated the 66th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence at the embassy premises.
The ceremony began with the hoisting of the National Flag by Ambassador Sarath Dissanayake amidst the beating of magul bera followed by singing of the National Anthem, lighting the ceremonial oil lamp and observance of two minutes’ silence in memory of national heroes.
The National Day messages of the President, Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister were read out in national languages by the embassy staff.
The ambassador emphasised the importance of promoting and preserving unity, harmony and peaceful co-existence among multi-ethnic and multi-religious communities in the country for their socio-economic wellbeing and cultural emancipation.
While underscoring the significance of nation building endeavors launched by the government since May 2009, Ambassador Dissanayake requested those present to perform their duty for the motherland and support the government’s endeavors to usher a new era for all.
He also conveyed his appreciation to all those present for their commitment and support to the embassy in organising promotional activities and wished them all the best and continued success.
An evening reception, attended by over 250 guests was hosted at the ambassador’s residence which Cuba’s Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero was the chief guest.
The ambassador highlighted the unprecedented developments the country has recorded and peace and stability enjoyed by Sri Lankans in all parts of the country since the end of the conflict.
He paid tribute to Sri Lankan and Cuban leaders for their vision and steadfastness in laying a solid foundation to foster excellent Sri Lanka – Cuba relations and emphasised the significance of the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations which fall on July 19, 2014, as a historic milestone.
The guests were treated to an array of Sri Lankan cuisine and sweetmeats and presented with a gift.