A commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Independence of Sri Lanka took place in Victoria, Mahe Island, on 3 and 4 February with the participation of the Sri Lankan community living in Seychelles. Representatives of the Seychelles Government, among others, also took part. The festivities were organised by the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Seychelles in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Association in Seychelles. A group of artists arrived from Sri Lanka to add glitter to the event.
A special dance festival was held on the evening of 2 February at Hotel Coral Strands to display the rich cultural heritage of Sri Lanka before a large gathering of foreign tourists, Seychellois and Sri Lankan expatriates. The performance of the Sri Lankan traditional dancers, led by Himala Bandara of the University of Visual and Performing Arts, Sri Lanka, captured the entire audience. At the same time, Singers who came from Sri Lanka entertained the Sri Lankans gathered at the Football Federation of Seychelles.
As a precursor to the grand celebrations, a musical evening titled Nidahas Udanaya was held on 3 February at the Baha’I National Convention Centre. A group of singers includingIlyas Mohideen Baig and Mahesha Sandamali Karunaratne, the second runner up at this year’s Derana Dream Star contest, entertained the audience.
The official ceremony commenced at 09.30 am on 04 February at the official residence of the High Commissioner. A large number of Sri Lankans, including Justice Tony Fernando, Justice Mohan Booran and retired Justice Ranjan Perera attended the ceremony. The proceedings were commenced after hoisting the national flag by Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Seychelles Tikiri Herath Gunathilake and a rendition of the national anthem in Sinhala and Tamil. This was followed by the lighting of the traditional oil lamp and multi-religious observances conducted by religious dignitaries representing Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islamic faiths.
Thereafter, a one-minute silence was observed in remembrance of Sri Lankans who sacrificed their lives for the motherland. The National Day message of the President of Sri Lanka was read by the High Commissioner in Sinhala and by Captain Thelwaththa in Tamil. The message of the Prime Minister was read by Attache of the High Commission Tharushi Gunathilake, while Justice Tony Fernando read the message of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The official ceremony was concluded with a traditional Sri Lankan tea party with Sri Lankan sweetmeats.
In the afternoon, a special cultural show titled Rangana was held at the Seychelles International Conference Centre. The event was graced by Vice President of Seychelles Vincent Meriton, Deputy Speaker Nicholas Prea,and State Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Barry Four. Popular patriotic songs were performed at the event, accompanied by colourful dances to entertain the gathering. Sega dances performed by Seychellois school children added glamour to the event. During the event, the Guinness Record holder for the youngest (male) author for a published book Thanuwana Serasinghe, who is currently residing in Seychelles with his parents, was felicitated and awarded by Vice President Vincent Meriton.
The organisation of the celebrations were supported by Sri Lankan Airlines, Hemas Hospitals Limited, Bank of Ceylon, Sanken Lanka (Overseas) Company, Lanka Hospitals Corporation, Medical Tourism Private Limited, Double Click, Pure FM, and the North West Marine Boat and Blue Boat Company.