The Rev. Prof. V. Ponnambalam, Chief Priest of the Sri Muthunaya Kovil in Palermo, along with Rev. Sellaya Viknesvaram, Satkuna and Chandradevi, participated at the 64th Independence Day celebrations held in Rome, despite the very heavy snow and adverse weather conditions.
In his speech at the celebrations, Rev. Prof. Ponnambalam said it was the first time they had decided to participate at the Independence Day celebrations, in consequence of the visit to Palermo of Ambassador Asitha Perera along with the Embassy staff, who conducted a successful and very useful ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ mobile service for the benefit of some 20,000 Sri Lankan Tamils living in the island of Sicily.
Ambassador Asitha Perera, addressing the Sri Lankans who had braved the very adverse weather conditions in Italy, thanked them for turning up from cities more than 600km away, from the north of Italy such as Milan, Verona and Brescia, to the south such as Catania, Palermo and Naples, expressed his sincere gratitude for their commitment.
Continuing further, the Ambassador appealed and challenged all patriotic Sri Lankans to act as tourism Ambassadors for Sri Lanka, and to send at least one of their Italian friends/colleagues to Sri Lanka on tourism in the year 2012-2013.
He explained that there are some two million Sri Lankans working in overseas countries, and that if at least half of these Sri Lankans could send at least one of their friends/colleagues to Sri Lanka for the purposes of tourism, not only would we achieve a target set, but we would also send a considerable amount of foreign exchange for the Government of Sri Lanka. He opined that this was indeed a very simple idea, but if all patriotic Sri Lankans rallied round, we could achieve amazing results.
The Ambassador also urged all Sri Lankans to invite foreign businessmen to participate in the Expo 2012 exhibition to be held in Sri Lanka.
He thanked the Ven. Molligoda Dheerananda Thero, Chief Incumbent of the Rome Buddhist Vihara for his participation, as well as the Chief Incumbents of the Sicily Buddhist Vihara of Catania and the Sri Lanka Buddhist Cultural Dhamma Institute of Brescia, both of whom travelled over 600km to attend the 64th anniversary of the Independence Day celebrations. Rev. Mons. Neville Joe Perera, National Coordinator of the Sri Lankan community in Italy for the Italian Bishop’s Conference, addressing the gathering during the 64th Independence Day celebrations, stated that it was after four to five years that he had set foot in the Sri Lankan Embassy in Rome and thanked the Ambassador and the Embassy staff for the cooperation and support extended to the Sri Lankans living in Italy.