Over 3000 people representing the Commonwealth and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) governments, diplomatic corps, and the local community visited the Festival and enjoyed Sri Lankan food, culture and crafts of Sri Lanka.
Australian Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs Senator Zed Seselja was the Chief Guest. Former Sri Lanka cricketer Asanga Gurusinghe travelled all the way from Melbourne to be present at the Festival. Addressing the Opening Ceremony, the Assistant Minister emphasised the importance of multiculturalism for Australia, and congratulated the High Commission and the Sri Lankan community for coming together in promoting Sri Lanka.
High Commissioner Somasundaram Skandakumar in his welcome address appreciated the participation and contribution of all Sri Lankan communities in Canberra which made the event truly Sri Lankan and depicted the diversity of Sri Lankan society. The High Commissioner also thanked the participation of cultural groups from Canberra and Sydney adding colour to the Festival and entertaining the visitors throughout the day. He particularly underlined the collective effort of the High Commission and the Sri Lankan community that contributed to the success of the event.
Volunteers played a valuable role in selling raffle tickets, managing and supervising the children’s play area, conducting creative activities for children, face painting, providing medical and nursing care, compering, photo and video recording of the event, technical skills with sounds and electric supply and by assisting in innumerable other ways. Many Sri Lankans commended the effective organising of the event while one senior member of the community described it as “the most successful event held in Canberra witnessed since 1974”.
A portrait of the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull done on wood using pyrography was presented to the Chief Guest by artists Malaka and Mahesh from Thermal Arts, who had come all the way from Sri Lanka to take part in the Festival.
The official logo for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Australia in 2017, designed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), was launched at the Festival by the First Assistant Secretary for South and West Asia Division of DFAT Ms. Kathy Klugman and High Commissioner Skandakumar. First Assistant Secretary Klugman, who is a former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, briefly outlined the history of the relationship between the two countries while the High Commissioner mentioned some of the activities being planned in 2017 to commemorate 70 years of friendship.
The participation of two Sri Lankan companies showcasing art and handlooms and an astrologer were special features at the Festival. The High Commission, with the assistance of the Consulate General office in Sydney, conducted a tourism and tea promotion stall. Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Sri Lanka Tea Board and SriLankan Airlines contributed to the success of the event providing the stage, advertisements, raffle prizes, and promotional material.
Source : www.news.lk