2021 Sri Lanka Day Expo & Parade Goes Global
A spectacular presentation PROMOTING Sri Lanka’s arts, crafts & Merchandise on the global stage.
Nandasiri (Nandi) Jasentuliyana
LOS ANGELES — When the annual Sri Lanka Day was celebrated in the historic city of Pasadena in 2019 the thousands of visitors who filed along the historic route of the New Year’s Day Rose Parade, gasped in amazement as they watched the ‘Pageant of Lanka,’ a miniature Kandy Perahera with decorated elephants on rollers and traditional Sri Lankan dancers, parading on the streets of Los Angeles. That day, Sri Lanka took its rightful place among the ethnic festivals held in America.
This year, Sri Lanka Day is going worldwide. As a virtual event Sri Lanka Day 2021 will reach millions of viewers across the globe. Although virtual events are not quite like seeing an event in person, these “quarantine events” are playing a fascinating role in keeping the public arts alive while public life is in lockdown. Each live event is unique and unfiltered, revealing a side of artists that many fans do not get an opportunity to see up close. And like viewers, artists are looking for ways to display their unique talents. Through these at-home shows, they have found a perfect opportunity to blend performance with an uplifting experience, and that is what is offered by the Sri Lanka Day Virtual Event this year. It is billed to be an elaborate public celebration intended to expose the historical heritage, culture, and traditions of Sri Lanka to the world.
Sri Lanka Day celebrations are sponsored and organized by the Sri Lanka Foundation, based in Los Angeles, California, a brainchild of Dr Walter Jayasinghe, a leading expatriate physician who came to the US in the early 1960s. In 2003, he established the Foundation to promote Sri Lankan cultural activities in the US and expose the American public to the many facets of the historical heritage and culture of Sri Lanka. Since then, the Foundation has been serving a wider community of Sri Lankans in and outside of the United States, and it is now the Sri Lanka Foundation International.
The Foundation’s premiere event is the annual Sri Lanka Day celebration. This year’s global event will be held on 20, 21, and 23 August. Throughout the three days, it will feature events from around the world when the sights and sounds and the unique taste of Sri Lanka will virtually come alive. It will feature Sri Lankan traditional music, dances, art, and theatre. The audience will also be treated to a tour de force of Sri Lankan art, artifacts, fashionable clothing, jewelry, sweets, spices, food to promote indigenous products and entrepreneurs with the opportunity for the audience to purchase the featured items during the celebrations on the foundation platform.
Mesmerizing dance and music performances will be staged throughout the three days. Keeping the audience entranced will be the traditional Kandyan and low country dances featuring vibrant costumes and ornate jewelry; Raban Pada, Hela Gee Rangana, ‘Thaala’ Nada, and other Sri Lankan classical and popular songs accompanied by well-choreographed dances with breath-taking spin movements and pulsating drumming. Groups from France, Italy, Australia, Dubai, Japan, Sri Lanka, and cities around the U.S. will join in the celebrations with unique choreography symbolizing the harmony among the multiethnic multi religious populous in the Island. The performances are to be interspersed with a cultural fashion show with Sri Lankan models showcasing Sri Lankan costumes on the catwalk.
The main event will be the Kandy Perahera, the ‘Pageant of Lanka,’ a sample of the iconic Kandy Esala Perahera featuring a procession of ceremonial musicians, drummers, dancers, singers, stilt walkers, whip crackers, flag bearers, sword carriers, ‘Sesath’ Carriers, led by elegantly dressed ‘Nilames’ and various other performers accompanied by several elaborately adorned elephants, including the casket carrier parading the streets in celebration.
Among the highlights of the event are the expert presentations on topics relating to education, business, sports, health, and fashion.
Staging the virtual Sri Lanka Day event is a gigantic task. The planning and preparation for the event began several months back with hundreds of volunteers. The Sri Lankan embassies and Sri Lankan community organizations worldwide have been brought together to plan and support the event.
According to the organizers, the Sri Lanka Day celebrations this year will have a global audience exceeding 50.000, and the event will exceed the standards set by long-established ethnic events anywhere. It should be a matter of pride to every Sri Lankan that their countrymen can stand side by side with other nations wherever they may be. For more information, see https/www.slday.com.
To Watch the Festival, Register Online as a guest: https://www.slfplatform.org/
(The writer is Former Deputy Director-General, United Nations, Director, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and President Emeritus, International Institute of Space Law & Policy.)
Project Management & Public Relations
Sri Lanka Foundation