|“Unity in Diversity and Religious Harmony” – Themes of Independence Day Celebrations in New York|
|Friday, 14 March 2008 00:00|
The 60th Anniversary of Independence and National Day of Sri Lanka was celebrated in a festive atmosphere in New York on 3 February on the theme “Unity in Diversity”, in a ceremony which saw the largest ever gathering of Sri-Lankan-Americans in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The celebration held this year was organised jointly by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN and the Sri Lankan-American community, depicting the rich diversity of Sri Lankan culture in song and dance representing all communities. The ceremony also consisted of religious observances guided by the clergy of the Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islamic faiths.
Addressing the gathering, Ambassador Kariyawasam, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, referred to the ongoing efforts of H.E. the President to unify the country by defeating terrorism and arriving at a political solution that would ensure that all citizens of Sri Lanka could live in peace and harmony with dignity. Urging the expatriate community to contribute to the nation building effort, the Ambassador stressed that the key to our strength and success lies in “unity in diversity”.
On 4 February, the Permanent Mission inaugurated a week-long exhibition of photographs “Sri Lanka through Visitor’s Eyes” at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The exhibition featuring the work of two Americans – Rena Bass Forman and John Beebe – depicts the exquisite beauty of the country and co-existence, often side by side with each other, of Buddhist temples, Hindu Kovils, Mosques, and Churches, and how people of different faiths intermingle peacefully.
Speaking at the ceremony attended by senior UN officials and representatives of member States of the UN, Ambassador Kariyawasam said that throughout its history, Sri Lanka, due to its location in the main sea routes of the Indian Ocean linking East and West, has been touched and influenced by different cultures, thoughts, philosophies and religions. The country, therefore, he said, is blessed with a rich culture that embraces the multi-layered influences of its Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian inhabitants, and added that the exhibition is a manifestation of the country’s heritage, cultural diversity and religious harmony.