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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2253

When Rabannetuma of Sri Lanka’s Three Forces Troupe Performed, Londoners Cheered in with Thunderous Applause

By Walter Jayawardhana

London, 29 September, ( More than 1800 Londoners heartily cheered and applauded when the performers of the Sri Lanka tri- forces cultural extravaganza’s miraculous and spectacular act of smooth balancing the several spinning flat plate like circular hand drums called “rabanas” on sticks was staged at Troxy Theatre in East London, United Kingdom.

The intently spell binding magical act by three young service personnel, one an attractive girl with her angelically dancing feet, Corporal Geethani Samanlatha from the Sri Lanka Air Force and the other two pulse quickening dancers, Leading Musician Kelum Wedaratne and Able Musician Chandana Lal Ilangasinghe, both from the Sri Lanka Navy did the acts while performing the ancient dance called Raban Netuma to the rhythm of drums that kept the metropolitan audience in awe. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella lighting the traditional oil  lampMinister Keheliya Rambukwella lighting the traditional oil lamp

What all of them had in common was their Bellwood training by Sri Lanka’s Youth Council before joining the armed forces.

A troupe of twenty three, from Lt. Colonels to privates, including the above was ably put together by the Manager Lt. Colonel Rajitha Ampe Mohotti of the Sri Lanka Army for three United Kingdom shows in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Mohotti , a chain-smoking limping man with a regular black walking stick is himself a disabled soldier who was permanently injured by enemy bullets in the military assault of “Jaya Sikuru”. But he is also popular singer of the concert for Api Wenuwen Api together with the other notable singer Lance Corporal Asela Manukulasuriya.Drummers at the showDrummers at the show

The shows were organized in the United kingdom by Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe , the defense advisor at the Sri Lanka High Commion with the help of expatriate Londoners both civilians and ex-servicemen who have come to reside in the UK to financially support Defense secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s ambitious program of building 50,000 houses for both active servicemen and women and the disabled ones.

Stressing why they deserve such a program, the President and their Commander in Chief Mahinda Rajapaksa has said, mostly many of them do not own an inch of land in the country but they are ready to die for the territorial integrity of the nation. The organizers said, they wanted to earn at least 100,000 British Pounds for the program. Raban Netuma-spinning of rabanasRaban Netuma-spinning of rabanas

The show was started by lighting the traditional oil lamp by such VIP’s like Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, Sri Lanka’s London High Commissioner Nihal Jayasinghe, parliamentarian Arjuna Ranatunga and philanthropists Sam Chandrasinghe and Mrs. Milina Sumathipala.

High Commissioner Nihal Jayasinghe suggested at the ceremonial opening that Sri Lanka should immediately consider making “Api Wenuwen Api” a permanent legal entity to work for soldiers and disabled soldiers in the country forever.

In the concert all traditional dances have been choreographed by warrant officer Somaratne Thalgahagoda , who is a nephew of the traditional and legendary dancer Sri Jayana. In addition to the family tradition of performing arts descending from such highly acclaimed dancers like Nittawela Gunaya he is also a product of Bellwood of the Sri Lanka Youth Council.Wes dancers  (Photos  by  Sesatha)Wes dancers (Photos by Sesatha)

Under his able guidance such gems like Pooja Netuma , Naga Gurulu mask dance, Salupaliya, Raban Dance, Gajaga Wannama ,Hewisi Wadanaya, Hansa dance , Wadigapatuna, Pantheru , Ginisisla and Kandyan Wes Dancing were performed.

But Roorase Andinalese, a dance based on the Guththila Kavya was an utter disappointment. In the Guththila kavya the poet depicted a vigourous dance of a bevy of celestial beings who danced moving their hands like lightning. But the dance performed on the stage was the slowest moving dance this correspondent has ever witnessed.

Bur overall, all artists, Rajitha Ampe Mohotti,Saman Kumara, Nilushi Nalika, Manukulasuriya, Salinda, Shamali Kithsiri and Ranga Kumara of the army, Pushpakumara, Pathmakumara, Moraes, Wedaratne,Ilangasinghe, Pallewatte, Mangalika and Seneviratne of the Navy, and Amarasinghe, Sisira kumara, Somarathna ,Ganegoda, Jayalath , Saman kumari , Rahula and Samanlatha of Sri Lanka Air Force could return to Sri Lanka with the satisfaction that they have contributed much to the cultural life of expatriate Sri Lankans living in the United Kingdom.

- Asian Tribune -

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