The ceremony to confer the 26th Bunka (Cultural) Awards was held at the official residence of Mr. Sugiyama Akira, the Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka.
This year, the following seven Sri Lankan artistes who were felicitated are as follows :
• Ms. Samanalee Fonseka – Cinema & Theater
• Mr. H.M.R. Chamika Hathlahawatta – Drama & Theater
• Mr. Pushpakanthan Pakkiyarajah – Visual Arts
• Mr. Ravi Siriwardena – Literature
• Ms. Shayari de Silva – Architecture
• Mr. Santhush Weeraman – Music
• Mr. Bathiya Jayakody – Music
The Bunka Awards was established in 1993, on the initiative of the Japanese Solidarity Association and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sri Lanka, in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka. The founders of the Bunka Awards, while noticing the rare historical and cultural affinities between Japan and Sri Lanka, envisaged that the peoples of both countries could cultivate, by deepening mutual understanding towards respective culture, the true friendship that would withstand the test of time. Today, after 28 years since the Bunka Awards was initiated, nearly 140 leading artists have received this esteemed cultural awards, and have been instrumental in strengthening cultural ties between the two countries.
Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister and Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, in the video message, extended sincere congratulations to the seven new awardees of the Bunka Awards, and commended the initiative of the Japan Sri Lanka Friendship Cultural Fund which serves to promote cultural activities in Sri Lanka. While referring to the common faith of Buddhism that connects Sri Lanka and Japan tightly, Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa cited that “it was Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala who promoted such spirituality between the two peoples, and nurtured our true friendship”.
Ambassador Sugiyama Akira also commended the seven Awardees for attaining the art of excellence in their respective pursuits, and welcomed them into the prestigious “League of Cultural Pioneers” with heartfelt congratulations on winning the Awards. “The seven recipients of the Bunka Awards”, Ambassador Sugiyama further stated, “are expected to bridge the numerous hearts through silent but most resilient power that culture is endowed with”.
Mr. MATSUI Akira, Co-Chairperson of the Selection Committee of the Japan Sri Lanka Friendship Cultural Fund, and Snr. Prof. Sampath Amaratunge, member of the same committee, were also present at the Awards presentation ceremony.