By Nandasiri (Nandi) Jasentuliyana *
LOS ANGELES (IDN) — A Sri Lanka-themed virtual Global Celebration will be launched in the United States on the Sri Lanka Foundation International platform providing an opportunity for a worldwide audience to go shopping in Sri Lanka’s premier outlets while being entertained by cultural performances in the comfort of one’s living room.
A dazzling parade and a glittering fashion show will come to living rooms in the US and overseas, bringing post covid fashions never before seen. The show will originate from Australia and Sri Lanka, courtesy of Bellesza Design Studios, Australia and Shanika Batiks, Sri Lanka. There will also be Special Presentations in the Networking Lounge relating to Education, Medical Culture and Cooking.
This unique virtual event takes place on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14, 2022, when traders, manufacturers, and service providers, will meet virtually all under one roof to market their products, network, and do business. It will also serve as a business platform for Sri Lankan traders to make inroads into the global market and develop strategic partnership programs with Australian, British, Canadian and U.S. firms while virtually meeting and networking with them.
Added highlights for the vendors and sponsors will include audio and Video features in the booths to directly speak with the customers. The auditorium will be available to present promotional videos of their businesses during the Cultural Performances. The platform will open a few days early and will remain open a few days later for people who missed the event on the weekend.
The Sri Lanka Foundation International is organising the event on a virtual platform for the second successive year to make the pre covid era annual Sri Lanka Day celebrations in Los Angeles a worldwide event.
When the annual Sri Lanka Day was last celebrated in the historic city of Pasadena in 2019, the thousands of visitors who lined up along the historic route of the New Year’s Day Rose Parade watched the ‘Pageant of Lanka,’ a miniature Kandy Perahera with decorated elephants on rollers and traditional Sri Lankan dancers, parading on the streets of Los Angeles. That day, Sri Lanka took its rightful place among the many ethnic festivals held in America.
This year, Sri Lanka Day is going worldwide for the second time. As a virtual event, Sri Lanka Day will reach millions of viewers across the globe.
The celebrations are sponsored and organised by the Sri Lanka Foundation, based in Los Angeles, California, a brainchild of Dr Walter Jayasinghe, a leading expatriate physician. He came to the US in the early 1960s. In 2003, he established the Foundation to promote Sri Lankan cultural activities in the US and expose the American public to the many facets of the historical heritage and culture of Sri Lanka.
Since then, the Foundation has been serving a wider community of Sri Lankans in and outside of the United States, and it is now the Sri Lanka Foundation International.
Throughout the two-day celebrations, it will feature events from around the world when the sights, sounds, and unique tastes of Sri Lanka will virtually come alive. It will feature Sri Lankan traditional music, dances, art, and theatre staged in Sri Lanka, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, The UK, and India.
Music groups from the United States that will participate will include the SLF Academy of Performing Arts, BEHRI Troupe, Swara Dahan Group, Talin Silva and group, Dhyan Hewage and Group (SL National Anthem), Janika Sutherland (Star spangled banner), Vernon Fernando (on saxophone), Waruna & Sandani group, Mahesh Balasooriya (on Piano), Salaru Sri Lankan Cultural Academy Texas and the HEAT Band (Baila session).
A glimpse of Chilean and non-Sri Lankans performing Kandyan and low country dances will be a rare treat. The audience will also be treated to a tour de force of Sri Lankan art, artefacts, fashionable clothing, jewellery, sweets, spices, food to promote indigenous products and entrepreneurs.
Mesmerising dance and music performances will be staged throughout the two days. Keeping the audience entranced will be the traditional Kandyan and low country dances featuring vibrant costumes and ornate jewellery; Raban Pada, Hela Gee Rangana, ‘Thaala’ Nada, and other Sri Lankan classical and popular songs accompanied by well-choreographed dances with breath-taking spin movements and pulsating drumming. The performances are to be interspersed with a cultural fashion show with Sri Lankan models showcasing Sri Lankan costumes on the catwalk.
Also on the boards will be the Kandy Perahera, the ‘Pageant of Lanka,’ a sample of the iconic Kandy Esala Perahera featuring a procession of ceremonial musicians, drummers, dancers, singers, stilt walkers, whip crackers, flag bearers, sword carriers, ‘Sesath’ Carriers, led by elegantly dressed ‘Nilames’ and various other performers accompanied by several elaborately adorned elephants, including the casket carrier parading the streets in celebration. Several schools in Sri Lanka and the United States will also be participating in the Pageant this year.
Staging the virtual Sri Lanka Day event is a gigantic task. The planning and preparation for the event began several months back with hundreds of volunteers. The Sri Lankan embassies and Sri Lankan community organisations worldwide have been brought together to plan and support the event.
The effort is led by the Foundation team led by Shirani Stanislaus, Chief Operating Officer & Corporate Secretary; Keshini Wijegoonerathna. Director, Project Management & Public Relations; Achala Weerasinghe, Director, Cultural Affairs, and Chamodh and Amarasinghe, Media Director under Dr Dishan Jayasinha, the President & CEO of the Foundation. The effort that had to be undertaken to get the groups to rehearsals and record the various events was particularly demanding in the context of the challenges faced in Sri Lanka this year.
The mega event is sponsored by a leading group of Sri Lankans and Sri Lankan companies, including Mohan Chandramohan, Aura Lanka Herbal Products, Bold Gems, HSBC, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Hatch’ Delmege Forsyth & Co Ltd, Ceilan Coir Products Export, Salota International, Mireka Homes Havelock City, Jmed, Uniformity, Raju Rasiah Jewellers, Rupavahini (Ethera Methara), Derana TV, and ITN.
According to the organisers, the Sri Lanka Day celebrations this year will have a global audience exceeding 50,000, and the event will exceed the standards set by long-established ethnic events anywhere. It should be a matter of pride to every Sri Lankan that their countrymen can stand side by side with other nations wherever they may be.
*The writer is a former Deputy Director-General, United Nations, Director, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and President Emeritus, International Institute of Space Law & Policy. [IDN-InDepthNews — 03 August 2022]
Image credit: Sri Lanka Foundation Intl.
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