Canberra celebrates 70 years of Sri Lanka’s Independence
February 5, 2018
70th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence was celebrated at the High Commission in Canberra on 4th February with the participation of over 300 guests from the Sri Lankan community.
After thanking the clergy representing Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity for their blessings, High Commissioner Somasundaram Skandakumar paid tribute to the Venerable Medauyangoda Dhammawimala Thero of the Sri Lanka Buddhist Vihara, Canberra for his wonderful message on national unity.
The Venerable Thero said religion is a ‘label’ that people put on themselves, which have proved to be a cause for division and disunity, but religion was never intended as such by any of the great religious leaders whose teachings are based on compassion, love and equality.Countries, religions and nationalities are divisions created by man, but we are all human beings. Sri Lanka regained its Independence 70 years ago due to the commitment of our national leaders from all ethnic communities: therefore, using religion or ethnicity to cause division is a great disservice to our country.
Addressing the audience, the High Commissioner said “If I was asked what the most significant lesson that we learnt from the 70 years I would unhesitatingly say that No country can ever hope to achieve the true potential of its Independence if that Independence does not embrace each of its citizens equally”. Recalling the blood donation programme in April 2017 when almost one hundred Sri Lankans came forward to donate blood and plasma to commemorate 70 years of diplomatic ties with Australia, the High Commissioner noted that was a gesture of unconditional love and demonstrated who we really are. Referring to his own upbringing, the High Commissioner said he had his education at the leading Government School Royal, and University, the Colombo campus, which provided a strong foundation for his future: “I remind myself that it was an investment my country made in my education and a debt I must repay.”
Pointing out that the National Day messages from President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Foreign Minister Talk Marapana gave a clear indication of the vision and commitment to the future, the High Commissioner called upon all Sri Lankans present to “support that process to help build a united and prosperous Sri Lanka”.
A special feature of the National Day celebrations was a photo exhibition depicting events of significance in Sri Lanka Australia relations spanning 70 years on display at the Chancery. School children sang the National Anthem in Sinhala and Tamil, followed by Jayamangala Gatha. Senior members of the Sri Lankan community representing Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher communities joined the High Commissioner in lighting the traditional oil lamp.