The High Commission of Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom organised its Annual Christmas Carol Service and Celebrations on Thursday 13 December in the High Commission premises with the participation of the Sri Lankan community representing all faiths, denominations and ethnicities. The celebrations were attended by Member of the House of Lords and friend of Sri Lanka Lord Mohamed Sheikh as the Chief Guest.
The celebrations commenced with religious observances led by the Chaplain of the Sri Lankan Catholic Sinhala Speaking Community Reverend Father Sudham Perera and the Chaplain of the Sri Lankan Catholic Tamil Speaking Community Reverend Father Elmo Arulnesan who bestowed blessings on Sri Lanka and the people gathered, and highlighted the significance of Christmas and its universal message of peace and love.
High Commissioner Manisha Gunasekera in her welcome address remarked on the unique nature of this year’s Christmas celebrations with the two chaplains representing the Sri Lankan Catholic Sinhala and Tamil communities being present on the occasion along with devotees of the chaplaincies. The High Commissioner also referred to Sri Lanka embodying the true spirit of Christmas and its message of peace and harmony with the country’s plural and cosmopolitan composition, where people of the Christian, Catholic and all other faiths come together at the year-end in joyful celebration of this festival. She also appreciated the participation of the Lord Sheikh who has been a longstanding and engaged friend of Sri Lanka in the UK, for his gracious presence at this year’s Christmas celebrations.
Addressing the event, the Lord Sheikh appreciated Sri Lanka’s recognition of all major religions of the world and encouraged all people of Sri Lanka to join hands to build the country. He referred to the universal appeal of and commonalities among the world’s great religions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism which is cause for celebration. He also remarked on the importance of promoting trade relations between Sri Lanka and the UK given the special historical relations between the two countries.
The gathering joined the choirs to sing Christmas Carols in Sinhala, Tamil and English, reflective of the peace and coexistence in Sri Lanka. The children of the Chaplaincies also took part in the Carol Service. The Vote of Thanks was delivered by Deputy High Commissioner Sugeeshwara Gunaratna.
The celebrations were attended by a large gathering of Sri Lankans living in the UK with their families. The guests were treated to a dinner comprising traditional Sri Lankan cuisine with Christmas delicacies.