Sri Lanka Festival 2016 draws unprecedented crowds in Canberra
Canberra community came in large numbers to savour a little of Sri Lanka at the by the High Commission on Saturday 12th November in the High Commission premises. Over 3000 people and children representing the Commonwealth and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) governments, diplomatic corps, and the local community visited the Festival and enjoyed the food, culture and crafts of Sri Lanka. Australian Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs Senator Zed Seselja was the Chief Guest. Former Sri Lanka cricketer Asanka Gurusinghe travelled all the way from Melbourne to be present at the Festival. Addressing the Opening Ceremony, the Assistant Minister emphasised the importance of multiculturalism for Australia, and congratulated the High Commission and the Sri Lankan community for coming together in promoting Sri Lanka.
High Commissioner Somasundaram Skandakumar in his welcome address appreciated the participation and contribution of all Sri Lankan communities in Canberra which made the event truly Sri Lankan and depicted the diversity of Sri Lankan society. The High Commissioner also thanked the cultural groups from Canberra and Sydney that participated to provide entertainment to the visitors through a carefully designed programme that extended from 11 am to 6 pm. He particularly underlined the collective effort of the High Commission and the Sri Lankan community that contributed to the success of the event.
Volunteers played a valuable role in selling raffle tickets, managing and supervising the children’s play area, conducting creative activities for children, face painting, providing medical and nursing care, compering, photo and video recording of the event, technical skills with sounds and electric supply and by assisting in in numerous other ways. Sri Lankan cuisine on offer included the traditional Koththu, Hoppers, Kadalay, Biriyani,Fried rice, and savouries,and were sold out ahead of the closing time !!
A portrait of the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull done on wood using pyrography was presented to the Chief Guest by artists Malaka and Mahesh from Thermal Arts, who had come all the way from Sri Lanka to take part in the Festival. The official logo for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Australia in 2017, designed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), was launched at the Festival by the First Assistant Secretary for South and West Asia Division of DFAT Ms. Kathy Klugman and High Commissioner Skandakumar. First Assistant Secretary Klugman, who is a former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, briefly outlined the history of the relationship between the two countries while the High Commissioner mentioned some of the activities being planned in 2017 to commemorate 70 years of friendship.
The participation of two Sri Lankan companies showcasing art and handlooms, an Astrologer and the benefits of Ayurveda were special features at the Festival. The High Commission, with the assistance of the Consulate General office in Sydney, conducted a tourism and tea promotion stall. Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Sri Lanka Tea Board and SriLankan Airlines contributed to the success of the event providing the stage, advertisements, raffle prizes, and promotional material.
The event was meticulously planned over five months by a working committee comprising Deputy High Commissioner Himalee Arunatilaka, Minister Cyril Gunapala, and Minister Counsellor Chandana Weerasena and enthusiastically supported by the Mission staff and Community leaders.
Sri Lanka High Commission in Australia,Canberra, 14th November 2016