The High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi organized several events to celebrate the 71st anniversary of independence. The official ceremony in the morning of 04th February commenced with the hoisting of the national flag amidst the sound of the ceremonial drums (Magul Bera). Following the rendering of the National Anthem in both Sinhala and Tamil, religious dignitaries representing all four religions in Sri Lanka – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity – blessed the country, the leaders and the people of Sri Lanka.
The programme included the reading of Independence Day messages by President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana.At the end of the formal event, two dance items were performed by the Sri Lanka Navy Dance Troupe bringing colour to the event. The invitees numbering around 120 including Sri Lankan expatriates and students who are in New Delhi were hosted to a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast. An alms giving was held prior to the official ceremony at the official residence, for the Buddhist clergy representing the major Sri Lankan Buddhist Institutes in India.
On 04th February evening, a Diplomatic Reception for around 800 guests, was held for the political dignitaries, Senior Government Officials of India, members of the diplomatic corp, eminent business leaders and members of the Sri Lankan community in India at the Residence of the High Commissioner. The Chief Guest of the event was Hon. Suresh Prabhu, Minister for Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation of India.
In his address, High Commissioner Austin Fernando stated that as neighbours, friends, and relatives, Sri Lanka has had close relationship with India in many spheres. Buddhism has played a seminal aspect that binds us together, which is a significant factor that contributes to the celebration of Independence Day in India. While speaking on the Sri Lanka’s bilateral relations with India, he emphasized that enhanced application of the latter mentioned relationships will certainly pave the way to make Sri Lankans to fully enjoy the real freedom received in 1948. Hon. Suresh Prabhu stated in his address that India and Sri Lanka must explore expanding cooperation in potential areas for mutual benefit.
The 20 member dance troupe made a spectacular performance encapsulating all aspects of the Sri Lankan traditional dancing such as pooja dance, mask dance, folk and fire dances which mesmerized the audience.
The High Commission arranged for the guests to savour Indian as well as Sri Lankan cuisine, which was laid out by the Sri Lankan Chefs from the Hotel Blue Water, Wadduwa, and the Executive Chief Nihal Somasiri was specially flown in from Sri Lanka and the Indian cuisine was prepared by the ITC Maurya Hotel in New Delhi.
The National Day reception was supported by sponsors such as Sri Lankan Airlines, Sri Lanka Export Development Board, Sri Lanka Handicraft Board (Laksala), Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, DBS Bank, ITC Hotels Group, IRCON International Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra, MJF Tea Pvt Ltd (world famous Dilmah Brand) in Sri Lanka, RITES Ltd. And BRANDIX Lanka Limited, which is a leading apparel company in Sri Lanka with the largest Sri Lankan investment in India.
Additionally, a Sri Lanka Food Festival was inaugurated on 5th February on the sidelines of the 71st Independence Day celebrations, which will run through till 10th February and Sri Lankan Chef from the Hotel Blue Waters and his assistants will prepare authentic Sri Lankan food for the festival bringing the best of flavours of Sri Lankan spices while offering a wide array of curries and desserts to the delhiites. The Sri Lanka Food festival is jointly organized with the ITC Maurya Hotel in New Delhi.
A Sri Lankan cultural performance was arranged for the Delhi Public and school children on 5th February at the Charkha Museum, Open Air Theatre in the Connaught Place in the heart of the city of Delhi. This cultural performance was organized jointly with the New Delhi Municipal Council.