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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2646

Las Vegas celebrates Sri Lanka’s 71st Independence with US lawmakers’ blessings

Daya Gamage reports to Asian Tribune from Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada. 11 February (Asiantribune.com):

The United States lawmakers rallied round the Sri Lankan community in Las Vegas in the State of Nevada, a rare gesture extended by both the US Senate and the US House of Representatives to celebrate Sri Lanka’s 71st Independence, gaining self-rule and establishing a vibrant democratic system no second to that of the United States.

This extended friendship by American lawmakers and their fraternal embrace was the result of Las Vegas, Nevada Sri Lankan community leaders’ out-reach to them, most importantly, their vanguard organization – Sri Lanka America Association of Las Vegas – using its public diplomacy skills to place Sri Lanka and her issues before them.

The vanguard organization of the Sri Lankans has been working very closely with American lawmakers in Washington, significantly with the cooperation, assistance and counseling of Sri Lanka’s Consul-General for the eight western states of the United States Swarna Gunaratne.

In September last year, the representatives of the Association had a long and fruitful discourse on many Sri Lankan issues with United States Senator Catharine Cortez-Masto who represents the State of Nevada. Member of the US House of Representatives Dr. Dina Titus has been a close associate of Sri Lankan community leaders and their Association for a very long time. The Sri Lankan community leaders met with her in early November to discuss Sri Lanka’s constitutional and foreign policy issues when there were abrupt changes in Sri Lanka’s domestic governance conscious of the fact that she is the chairperson of the Sub-committee for South Asian Affairs in the House’ most powerful Foreign Relations Committee.

It is this public affairs endeavor of Sri Lankan community leaders in Las Vegas, Nevada and their association’s out-reach to American lawmakers that made this year’s Sri Lanka Independence Day celebration in Las Vegas a unique event. Sri Lankan civic leaders are fully aware of the mal-functioning of Sri Lanka’s diplomatic mission in Washington with no ambassador for the past one-and-a-half years. A group of Sri Lankan expatriates using their vanguard association occasionally reach out to American lawmakers to make them knowledgeable of Sri Lankan issues in the light of Washington Sri Lanka mission’s inactivity.

The American lawmakers who represent the State of Nevada – two senators and three House Members – took time to honor and recognize two religious stalwarts in Las Vegas, Most Venerable Alawala Subhuthi Nayaka Thero who heads the Nevada Buddhist Vihara and Father Bede Wevita who heads a premier Catholic Church in Las Vegas for their quarter century of religious and civic service at the 71st Independence Day celebration held in Las Vegas this week.

US Congresswoman Dr. Dina Titus gave a live video message extending greetings to the Sri Lanka community and Sri Lanka while the gathering was in progress. She noted: “as a member of the Sri Lanka Democracy Partnership (in the US Congress) Sri Lanka’s parliament has engaged in training and exchange programs with the United States Congress.” She recognized how the Sri Lankan community and their civic leaders are involved in Sri Lanka-America relations with the US Congress.

In the three-hour event, the most colorful were the song and dance with humorous short plays that depicted the major cultures of Sri Lanka – Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim. The significance of race relations was highlighted in one of the musical plays which was received well by the attendees.

The State of Nevada American Honor Guard was at ease when the two national anthems were sung.

Opening the gathering, the Association president Gihan Perera, while noting the significance of the event, highlighted the century-old Sri Lanka-America relations.

Throughout, it was stated by many Association stalwarts that Sri Lanka America Association of Las Vegas has a dual role – fellowship and representing Sri Lanka, and engage in civic duties in the area of philanthropy to reach out to those who need counseling, to enhance their lives, stepping forward to help anyone who is destitute with illness and other calamities.

- Asian Tribune -

Sri Lanka Consul-General in the United States Swarna
Gunaratne recognizes Catholic prelate Father Bede Wevita
of Las Vegas for his 25-year service to the community.
President of Sri Lanka Association Gihan Perera looks on.
Sri Lanka Consul-General in the United States Swarna Gunaratne recognizes Ven. Alawala Subhuthi Thero of Las Vegas Buddhist Temple for his 25-year service to the community
diconary view
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