The second anniversary of the tsunami was commemorated at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washiongton D.C. with a representative gathering of the Sri Lankan community on December 26, 2006.

The mood was somber as the people gathered in the late evening for religious observances and prayers for all those affected by the tsunami. Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke who set the tone for the event, in his opening remarks noted that widely acknowledged as the largest and most devastating natural catastrophe in the island’s history, the tsunami affected 70% of our coastline, killed and leaving missing over 35,000, displaced nearly one million people, destroyed over 100,000 homes, devastated the fisheries and the coastal tourist industries and damaged coastal infrastructure and natural eco-systems. Referring to the developments regarding tsunami recovery, the Ambassador went on to express his appreciation for the generosity of Sri Lankan expatriates and Americans who came to Sri Lanka’s aid in her hour of need. Ambassador Goonetilleke said, “the significance of commemorative events such as these is that they provide us with an opportunity to reflect on our common humanity, and the sincerity with which all Sri Lankans, irrespective of their ethnic or religious divides, rallied round, in great collective strength, to assist those who survived this mammoth natural disaster. In this regard, we have to acknowledge with appreciation the important role played by the expatriate Sri Lanka community, religious and other organisations based in various countries to assist the victims during the relief and reconstructions process. Equally important was the role played by friendly countries both small and large, private sector organisations, humanitarian organisations as well as private individuals, who rushed to Sri Lanka within days after the natural disaster and pledged support for the reconstruction work. The United States Government provided approximately $135 million and much more was channelled by the corporate sector and private individuals.”

The Ambassador’s remarks were followed by religious observances. Ven. Maharagama Dhammasiri Nayake Thera of the Washington Buddhist Vihara and Ven. Katugastota Uparatana Nayake Thera of the International Buddhist Center led the Buddhist religious observances while Ven. Thapovana Suthadara Thera of the Washington Buddhist Vihara spoke to the gathering about the transience of all things and the focus of impermanence in Buddhism.

The Hindu religious observances were conducted by Mrs. Kanaga Ranganathan. The Christian religious observances were conducted by Dr. Hilarian Codippily and the Muslim religious observances were conducted by Mr. Naseer Azeez.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

26 December 2006


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