Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya and the Embassy of Sri Lanka staff observed the 62nd anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence Thursday with a stirring ceremony of thanksgiving that included Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian prayer services.

The ceremony opened with the raising of the Sri Lankan flag by Ambassador Wickramasuriya to the sound of traditional Sri Lankan drums and the national anthem.

Religious dignitaries then took part in the lighting of the traditional oil lamp and offered prayers of thanksgiving for the peaceful period that Sri Lanka now enjoys.

An Independence Day message from Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, was also read.

Ambassador Wickramasuriya noted that Independence Day in Sri Lanka this year has special meaning because Sri Lankan forces have eliminated terrorism after 26 years of conflict, freeing the population from fear.

“On this Independence Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to ensure that this peaceful period takes hold,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya said. “Let us shed past prejudices and embrace each other as Sri Lankans."

“As Ambassador, my official job is to represent Sri Lanka in the United States. But my unofficial job is to bring the Sri Lankans who live here - Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and all others - together as a community.”

Religious leaders who took part in the ceremony included the Venerable Veihene Pannaloka Nayaka Thero, Adviser to the Washington Buddhist Vihara; Ven. Maharagama Dhammasiri Nayake Thero, President of the Washington Buddhist Vihara; Sivanatha Kurukkal, who performed Hindu observances, Dr.Greg Fernandopulle who offered Christian prayers and Mr. Mohamed Zuhurdeen, who conducted Islamic observances.

In addition, the ceremony was also attended by Buddhist monks from the Wheaton International Buddhist Center.

A Sri Lankan community-wide Independence Day celebration will be held on Feb. 13, 2010 from 1:30 - 6 p.m. in the auditorium of Wheaton High School in Wheaton, Md. The program will feature a cultural performance by the famed Channa Upuli dance company of Sri Lanka. The ceremony was originally scheduled for Feb. 6, but was postponed due to inclement weather.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

04 February 2010


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