Welcome speech by the Ambassador

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC celebrated the Thai Pongal celebrations on January 17, 2009 with the presence of a large number of Sri Lankan Tamil community and representatives of the Sri Lankan Associations based in the Greater Washington DC area at the Official Residence of the Ambassador.

Lighting the oil lamp - Ambassador and Mrs. Wickramasuriya

The celebrations were held in keeping with the tradition of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC of celebrating the important religious festivals of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

Ambassador Wickramasuriya welcomed the gathering and said that the Sri Lankan Embassy had been celebrating the important religious festivals of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians for the past several years. He further stated that the Thai Pongal is recognized as a cultural festival and is particularly significant to the Tamil people, as a thanks giving ritual expressing gratitude to the sprits of nature, the Sun and paying homage to the farm animals for their contributions in providing a bountiful harvest. It is celebrated with great joy by all bringing peace, happiness, prosperity, brightness and harmony in the lives of everyone. The Ambassador also made a few remarks in Tamil inviting all Sri Lankans to join hands to build a nation, where everyone could live with in dignity and harmony with the cultures of different communities.

Mrs . Kanaga Ranganathan explains the significance of Thai pongal

Mrs. Kanaga Ranganathan who conducted the Hindu prayers, highlighted the “Significance of Thai Pongal”. She also touched upon the importance of Hinduism and its philosophy. She further said that Thai Pongal is an important festival for Tamils since it dawns with the month of Thai (January 14) according to the Tamil calendar. Tamils usually believe that prosperity, happiness, peace, brightness and harmony will reach their lives from the inception of Thai. She stated that on the Pongal Day the Tamils offer their gratitude towards the Sun. On the following day, they celebrate “Mattu Pongal” which is dedicated to the cattle that helped in agricultural activities.

Sri Sivanathakuru Kurukkal performs the pooja

Following the remarks made by Mrs. Kanaga Ranganathan, Ambassador and Madam Wickramasuriya lighted the traditional oil lamp followed by a program of devotional songs to Lord Murugan, Lord Ganesha, Divine mother, Ayypa and Thirupuhal , sung by the group of artists organized by Ms. Deepa Sri Kumar.

Ambassador with the guests

The religious prayers were performed by the Hindu Priest of Siva Vishnu Temple, Sri Sivakantha kurukal and placed vibuthy on the forehead of the Ambassador and visitors. The religious rituals ended with the offering of Pongal to the Deities. The Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Tissa Wijeratne delivered a vote of thanks.

Pongal and sweetmeat traditionally associated with Thai Pongal were served at the end of the event followed by Ceylon Tea. Decorative motifs, popularly known as “Kolams” among the Tamil community drawn on the floor and the musicals on Nathaswaram added a colourful ambience to the celebrations held at the Official residence of the Ambassador.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

19 January 2009


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