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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2675

After All, Sri Lankans Held Their Lion Flag High In Las Vegas to Mark Buddhist -Hindu New Year and Depict Unity

Daya Gamage – US Bureau Asian Tribune – A Commentary

Las Vegas, Nevada. 20 April (Asiantribune.com): When Las Vegas Sri Lankans gathered last Sunday to celebrate the Sinhala-Hindu New Year in hundreds with their children at a local park here representing the small Sri Lankan community, their main motivation was to rally under a single banner that was offered by the organizers: The Lion Flag.

What struck this writer was that this gathering, unprecedented in recent history of Sri Lankan assemblies, is that they rallied round the Lion Flag the organizers offered, organizers who are well known for their philanthropic skills and organizational abilities, held well above their heads that showed a contrast to that of parochial divisions engineered by a handful of renegades.

The large assembly to celebrate the dawn of the New Year in their native Sri Lanka further depicted that they needed a fresh beginning to move away from divisive trends to move forward to usher in a collective participation when it comes to fellowship among their own community, philanthropic endeavors here in the United States and Sri Lanka and most importantly in their dealings with federal, state and city officials.

The event commenced with the blessings of the Buddhist Monk and the Hindu Priest which followed the singing of Sri Lankan and American National Anthems. The chairman of the organizing committee Mohamed Jalal invited a cross section of the gathering to light the traditional oil lamp.

The significance of this event is that religious harmony was depicted when a person of Islamic faith, Mohamed Jalal, and two Catholics, Ivor Bulathsinhala and Viran Gunawardene, represented the organizing committee along with the Buddhists.

The event will be registered in the annals of Sri Lankan activities for several reasons: the Lion Flag was the rallying point; the gathering was unprecedented surpassing past assemblies of Sri Lankans; the motivation a large majority of Sri Lankans had is to collectively act moving away from divisive trends; and, most importantly the fresh thinking that was induced to usher in a era of solidarity.

The key note address was given by a visiting Sri Lankan, but not a stranger to Vegas Sri Lankans, Nimal Sedera. A successful insurance and public affairs executive in Sri Lanka, Sedera is known in Sri Lanka and to the Sri Lankan Diaspora in the West and other regions for his erudite writings of culture, social issues and politics.

The message Nimal Sedera gave to the large gathering was the importance of solidarity among the Sri Lankans in a community which is not so large, and that this New Year celebration should be a catalyst to build a ‘togetherness’ and fraternal cooperation among them. “It is important that Sri Lankans remember and practice the great cultural norms they have inherited for centuries to bring this “togetherness,” Sedera noted.

Sedera later told this writer that he was proud of those who organized this event that brought support and patronage from other Sri Lankans to bring unity and brotherhood to make this a very successful one. In his opinion, the 2007 New Year celebration was undoubtedly a successful event that motivated the gathering the importance of solidarity.

In fact, ‘Asian Tribune’ felt that the rejection of divisive trends and the importance of solidarity were the main reasons this event drew attention that culminated in an unprecedented gathering.

The universally-known hospitality of Sri Lankan women was clearly shown when indigenous sweet meats and traditional mouth-watering food filled several large tables in the enclosure. The collective efforts of the families were a testimony to the culinary delights that were made available to sooth the palates of the gathering.

And, then came several traditional Sri Lankan dance presentations by children. The musical chores and bodily movements to the sound of the drums captivated the audience. At the end of the recital when the children showed their gratitude to the trainer, Ms. Dishna Tennekoon, bowing low with clasped hands, the cheerful on lookers saw tears of joy coming to her eyes.

The rest of the early afternoon, the old and young, participated in many traditional games that are generally seen in rural Sri Lankan villages at the time of the Sinhala-Hindu New Year. The sports brought many, young and not-so-young, together to foster a ‘togetherness’ for a long time to come.

The message that one of the organizers, Douglas Perera, gave to the gathering that this is the time of the year in Sri Lanka for the elderly to set an example in bringing divisions among subjects under their influence to an end took a high tone among the large Sri Lankan gathering.

- Asian Tribune -

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