CELEBRATES SRI LANKA’S 62ND INDEPENDENCE DAY WITH
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
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.