State Dance Ensemble enthral crowds at the Sri Lanka Festival 2017 in Canberra

Vibrantly colourful and authentic portrayal of traditional Sri Lankan dance and drumming by the State Dance Ensemble led by its Artistic Director and renowned choreographer, dancer and drummer Ravibandhu Vidyapathy, enthralled all present at the Sri Lanka Festival 2017 on Saturday 25th November in Canberra. They performed several items throughout the day starting with namaskara gaatha and Saraswathie Pooja and going on to low country, and Kandyan dancing traditions, with the grand finale of Bheri Vrunda or Drum Orchestra, that resonated throughout the grounds.

Chair of the Australia Sri Lanka Parliamentary Group in the Australian Parliament, Scott Buchholz and Minister for Multicultural Affairs of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Rachel Stephen Smith graced the occasion as Guests of Honour. The latter was representing the Chief Minister of the ACT. Also present as Special Invitees were the Secretary to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs Dewasirige Swarnapala, ACT Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs Elizabeth Kikkert, First Assistant Secretary for South & West Asia Division of the Department of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Kathy Klugman, Director, Multicultural Office of the ACT Azra Khna, and Assistant Commissioner and National Manager Protection Operations of ACT Policing, Commander John Bourke. Presidents of all Sri Lanka Associations in Canberra represented the diverse Sri Lankan community at the Opening Ceremony.

High Commissioner Skandakumar welcomed the invitees and said 2017 has been a very special year for Sri Lanka-Australia relations due to the number of reciprocal high level visits and special commemorative events that were held. Kathy Klugman from the DFAT who is a former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, echoed the High Commissioner’s sentiments and applauded the presence of Ravibandhu Vidyapathy, as the pre-eminent expert on traditional Sri Lankan dancing and drumming in Sri Lanka.

Federal Member Scott Buchholz paid tribute to his predecessor in the Sri Lanka Australia Parliamentary Group the late Don Randall, for his contribution to strengthening relations between the two countries and Parliaments and announced that he will be going to Sri Lanka in April 2018 with a Parliamentary delegation. ACT Multicultural Affairs Minister paid tribute to the Sri Lankan community in Canberra for their participation and contribution to the cultural diversity of the Canberra community.

Large crowds braved the hot temperatures to savour the Sri Lankan tea and culinary delights on offer, as well as handlooms, burnt wood art and porcelain. The High Commission organised a Tea Counter and a Tourism stall to promote Sri Lanka while Sri Lankan Associations offered hoppers, thosai, vadei, fresh juice, rice & curry and kottu. Family members of the High Commission staff organised a food stall and the proceeds will be donated to the Government supported charity project ‘Little Hearts’ to construct a cardiac unit at the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital in Sri Lanka.

The Festival was organised by Sri Lanka’s High Commission to Australia for the second consecutive year. In recognition of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries this year, the Cultural Affairs Ministry sponsored the national Dance Ensemble to perform at the Festival. Other sponsors included the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Sri Lanka Tea Board, SriLankan Airlines, Hyatt Hotel Canberra, University of Canberra, Hony Consul for Western Australia and the Sinhala Cultural Association of Canberra. The Consulates Offices in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as the Hony Consuls in Queensland and Southern Australia also assisted in publicity, organising performances for the State Dance Troupe and selling raffle tickets.

 

27 November 2017

Sri Lanka High Commission, Canberra

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