- Celebrations will be held at Independence Square
- Tree-planting program to commence alongside celebrations
- Govt. to sing National Anthem only in Sinhala but says no restrictions on public singing in Tamil
- Invites 2,500 guests, 1,000 public to participate
- March-past consists of 8,250 security personnel
- Navy to celebrate at Galle Face
- Air Force to join celebration with 30 aircraft
By Nuwan Senarathna
All arrangements have been made to celebrate the 72nd Independence Day at Independence Square under the theme ‘A Secured Nation – A Prosperous Country’.
The event will be presided over by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. An islandwide tree-planting program will also be held to celebrate Independence.
Speaking to media at the Information Department, Public Administration and Home Affairs State Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said the event would be held in a manner that minimises inconvenience to the public.
“Celebrations will be held at Independence Square to minimise the inconvenience to the public. If we hold celebrations at Galle Face Green, that would cause a lot of inconvenience to the public due to the traffic plan,” he said.
Samarasinghe said the Government decided to sing the National Anthem only in Sinhala at Independence Day celebrations.
However, he pointed out that those who wish to sing the National Anthem in Tamil will be able to sing at the celebration.
“This time the National Anthem will only be sung in Sinhala at the official ceremony. But there is no restriction to sing the National Anthem. Anyone can sing it in a language they prefer. People in the north and east can sing the National Anthem the way they prefer. However, the National Anthem will only be in Sinhala at the Independence Day celebrations,” he added.
He said more than 2,500 guests had been invited for the celebration, including foreign diplomats, with space reserved for 1,000 members of the public as well. The march-past will consist of 8,260 security personnel. Major General Mahinda Mudalige will lead the Sri Lanka Army’s parade and 4,325 members of the Army will join the march. Meanwhile, 868 personnel from the Navy and 815 personnel from the Air Force will also join the parade, while 1,382 Police personnel will also be part of the parade.
Navy Spokesman Lieutenant Commander Isuru Sooriyabandara said a separate celebration would be held at Galle Face Green alongside the Independence Day celebration.
“The Navy will anchor its ships at the sea facing Galle Face Green. A special gun salute will be given at the premises. A special stall will be set up and all projects carried out by the Navy will also be displayed at the premises,” he said.
Air Force Spokesman Group Captain Gihan Seneviratne said 30 aircraft would fly in the parade and a special air show would also be held at the celebration. “The Air Force air show will include three K8 aircrafts, five PT-6 aircrafts, three F7 jets, three MI17 helicopters and a Bell 212 helicopter,” he said.
Fifteen schools in Colombo closed on Monday
The Education Ministry had decided to close 15 schools in Colombo on Monday (3 February) due to the rehearsals for Independence Day celebrations.
The decision was taken to minimise traffic congestion at the Independence Square during the 72nd Independence Day celebrations.
The Public Administration, Home Affairs and Local Government Ministry had advised the Education Ministry to close all schools near the Independence Square on Monday to provide relevant facilities for security personnel participating in the ceremony.
The schools scheduled to be closed are as follows:
D. S. Senanayake College, Royal College, Thurstan College, Yasodara Vidyalaya, Musaeus College, St. Bridget’s Convent, Colombo Ladies’ College, Colombo International School, Wycherley International School, Mahanama College, St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s Girls School including the primary school, Mihindu Maha Vidyalaya, Al-Hidhaya Maha Vidyalaya, and Asoka College Colombo.