The 69th National Day was celebrated by the Consulate General in Sydney on 3rd and 4th of February. National Day Reception was held on 3rd February which was graced by Ms Rhonda Piggott, Director of the State Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Kevin Conolly, Member of State Parliament for Riverstone. Number of Consuls General and representatives from various Institutions, Universities and business personal joined in to celebrate the Sri Lankan National Day.
More than fifteen Sri Lankan Associations including Sinhalese Cultural Forum, Sri Lanka Association of NSW, Tamil Senior Association and Austra Lanka Muslim Association were represented at this event with over 300 attendees.
The programme started with the singing of National anthem of Sri Lanka in Sinhala and Tamil and National Anthem of Australia. The traditional oil lamp was lit by the Chief Guest, Member of Parliament for Riverstone and the Presidents of the Associations. Religious blessings were performed by Venerable Pundit Meegahakumbure Dhammagavesi Thero, Chief Prelate of the Malwatta Chapter of the Siamese Sect in Australia, Father Chaminda Wanigasekera and Mohamed Yassir Abdul Careem. Venerable Pundit Meegahakumbure Dhammagavesi Thero in his blessings emphasise the contribution of the National Heroes in winning the independence to the country.
Consul General, Lal Wickrematunge in his speech stated that the country is at a cusp of a new era to set a foundation for a knowledge based economy and the next generations should take it forward. He thanked the community associations and overseas Sri Lankans for their cooperation with the Consulate General and requested them to continue their support in the future as well. He further stated that most of Sri Lanka’s intelligence is overseas. They have reached greater heights and wished that they or their next generation would share with Sri Lanka what they have learnt in Australia.
Addressing the audience Ms Rhonda Piggott, Director of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stated that Australia places great value in longstanding relationship with Sri Lanka with strong people to people links, growing trade and investment ties, effective development partnership, excellent defence and education cooperation. Over 130,000 Sri Lankan community in Australia enriches the multicultural life of Australia and appreciated Sri Lanka’s consistent cooperation on the Government level on security and people smuggling. Referring to the 70th year Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations she mentioned that the economic partnership was the centre of that relationship. Australia has always supported educational aspirations of Sri Lankan students and has funded more than 100 students since early 1950s. Present there are over 7500 Sri Lankan students studying in Australia. This year Australia expects to provide Sri Lanka with 26.9 million Australian dollars for development cooperation.
At the end of the official programme the award-winning Sri Lankan film Saroja directed by Dr Somaratne Dissanayake was screened.
On 4th February the official function was held at the Consulate General Office. National Anthem was sung in Sinhala and Tamil. A two-minute silence was observed in remembrance of all who have sacrificed their lives for the nation. National Day messages of the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were read. Programme winded with a brief address by the Consul General.
On the same evening the Sri Lankan Community Associations in Sydney celebrated the 69th National Day in collaboration with the Consulate General. Consul General attended the ceremony as the Chief Guest along with Ms Julie Owens, Labour Federal Member in the Australian Parliament and Shadow Assistant Minister for Small Business, Citizenship and Multicultural Australia and Kevin Conolly, State Member of Parliament for Riverstone. Special awards were presented to the students of Sri Lankan origin appreciating their achievements in the fields of education, sports and arts. Number of traditional dances and patriotic songs were performed.