The Embassy and Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Austria together with the Sri Lankan community and friends of Sri Lanka from many parts of Austria celebrated the Sinhala and Tamil New Year at the Embassy reception hall on the evening of 14 April 2013.
Guests arriving at the event were met with a traditional greeting according to Sinhala and Tamil customs, with a sheaf of betel and pottu. The event commenced with the lighting of the oil lamp by children.
Ambassador Azeez welcomed the guests to the event. In his remarks, the Ambassador highlighted the significance of the New Year, especially for building friendship, unity and harmony. The Ambassador also spoke of the many promotional and outreach activities carried out by the mission during the past year and outlined the events scheduled to take place in the future, including the celebration of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Austria in 2014.
He stated that the events marking the beginning of this celebration would extend throughout 2014, commencing from June 2013.
Chief Guest Vienna Region Member of Parliament Omar Al-Rawi, highlighted the strong bond of friendship between Austria and Sri Lanka and emphasised the importance of the Sri Lankan community to Vienna and expressed his wish that Sri Lankans would in the future, play a greater role in the Vienna Region.
He stressed that it was an important duty of Sri Lankans and their friends abroad to strive together to advance the sense of togetherness and peace that prevails in Sri Lanka. He also conveyed the best wishes of the Mayor of Vienna to the Sri Lankan community.
The guests were entertained with dancing and musical performances according to the Sinhala and Tamil traditions. University of Ljubljana in Slovenia professional musician and a lecturer Dr. Lasanthi Kalinga, performed several folk songs associated with the New Year, to an enthralled audience.
Classical dance performances, including the ‘Bharatha Natyam’ dance tradition, were performed by Julia Nuland and Tania Abraham.
Children, who accompanied their parents to the event, enthusiastically participated in the traditional games organised during the celebration. Foremost among this was the selection of the ‘Avurudhu Kumari’ and ‘Avurudu Kumaraya’. Folk games associated with the New Year, including placing the eye on the elephant, fancy dress competition, bursting the balloon, guessing the number of stones in the pot, identifying the ‘sengavuna amuththa’ were among the games that both children and adults participated with much eagerness.
In accordance with the New Year customs, the guests also engaged in ‘ganu denu’ with the Embassy staff where the guests were presented with a token gift on a sheaf of betel. The guests were also served traditional Sri Lankan dinner and sweetmeats.
The final event for the day was the ‘Young Achievers 2013’ award, presented to Sri Lankan youth in Austria for outstanding achievements in various fields that brought honour and recognition to their motherland.
The awards were presented to two young Sri Lankans, based on the nominations received from the Sri Lankan community. Mishan Wickramasinghe, who was selected for the Under 18 Austrian National Rugby team and Michael Jayasekera, who was elected as the Chairperson of the Vienna School Students Union, were presented with the ‘Young Achievers 2013’ award.