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Largest-ever International Gita Mahotsav hosted in Colombo (Pics) 

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A 4-day International Gita Mahotsav was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from March 01 – 04, 2024 with a copy of the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita being presented to the Honourable Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

This was the fifth edition of the International Gita Mahotsav organised for the first time in Sri Lanka by Kurukshetra Development Board of Government of Haryana (KDB), India, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs and Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, the cultural arm of the High Commission of India in Colombo in collaboration with about 30 religious and social organisations in Sri Lanka.

Highlights of the gala event included a Sadhbhavna Yatra from Nelum Pokuna to Vihara Mahadevi Park of Colombo on 03 March 2024 with nearly a thousand artists displaying local performing arts along with floats by ISKCON, Ramakrishna Mission, Mayurapathy Sribhadrakali Temple. Sri Lankan Prime Minister – Dinesh Gunawardena, Ministers Bandula Gunawardena and Vidura Wickramanayaka witnessed the Yatra with Indian High Commissioner in Colombo – Mr. Santosh Jha and the delegation from India.

The second day saw an International Discourse on Gita in addition to several seminars by experts on the theme of “Gita- An Epitome of Peace, Fraternity and Harmony”. The panel for the International Gita Discourse included remarks by Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs – Vidura Wickramanayake, High Commissioner Santosh Jha, Swami Gurusharanand Ji Maharaj, Gita Manishi Swami Gyanand ji Maharaj, Member Secretary KDB Sh. Vikas Gupta and Prof Asanga Tilakaratne. The universality and timelessness of Gita’s message was the common thread in these discussions.

The International Gita Mahotsav in Sri Lanka was the biggest international edition ever held.  The previous 4 editions were held in Australia (2023), Canada (2022), UK (2019) and Mauritius (2019). Within India, Kurukshetra Development Board has been organising Gita Mahotsav since 1989 in the city of Kurukshetra, the land where the ‘Bhagwad Gita’ is believed to have been delivered by Lord Krishna to Arjuna as a part of the epic Mahabharat.

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2024 Bon Odori festival held in Colombo

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The National Youth Services Council (NYSC), in collaboration with the Japanese Solidarity Association (JSA) and the Embassy of Japan, successfully hosted the Bon Odori Festival 2024 at the NYSC premises in Maharagama. Despite the rainy weather, a significant crowd of both Sri Lankan and Japanese nationals attended the festival, highlighting the strong cultural ties between the two nations.

A customary Japanese festival, the Bon Odori Festival honours and says adieu to ancestor spirits. The event this year included a diverse array of acts and events that highlighted the lively customs of Sri Lanka and Japan.

The festival featured a Bon Odori dance to popular songs “Tokyo Ondo” and “Tanko Bushi,” which were performed by students from the Japanese School in Colombo and the Lanka Nippon BizTech Institute (LNBTI). In addition to the Bon Dance, the following performances have given the cultural event a captivating touch:
• Traditional Japanese drum performances (Wadaiko) by students from the Japanese School in Colombo and NYSC
• The Japanese dance “Nanchu Soran,” performed by students from the Japanese School in Colombo
• Karate performances by NYSC students
• J-Pop dance routines by LNBTI students
• Japanese and Sinhala songs performed by JICA Volunteers and
• A blend of traditional Japanese and Sri Lankan dances by NYSC students.

With her live performance, a renowned Japanese singer and long-time supporter of JICA, Ms. Mayo Shono, who was in Sri Lanka for the third time, brought this year’s Bon Odori event a splash of colour and vibrancy with her dulcet voice.
Distinguished participants graced the occasion, including Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, H.E. Mr. MIZUKOSHI Hideaki, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka, Mr. Pasindu Gunaratne, Chairman of NYSC, and Mr. HOTTA Mikinaga, President of JSA.

Numerous food vendors from well-known Japanese eateries, such as Nihonbashi, Sushi Bar Samurai, Yamato, Ginza Hohsen, Kuuraku, Minori, Shikisen, and Sakura Coffee Farm, were present in the festival grounds. In addition, the NYSC cooking class also had its stall, offering a diverse range of Japanese cuisine and popular Sri Lankan dishes. The event also featured stalls from the Origami Folders Association of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Bonsai Association, JICA volunteers, Japanese Solidarity Association Bazaar, and the Japanese local government promotion by the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR).

The Bon Odori Festival 2024 was a resounding success, where even the heavy rain not just could not douse the enthusiasm but rather turned out to be stoking log for further strengthening the cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and Sri Lanka. The organizers extend their heartfelt thanks to all participants, sponsors, and attendees for their support and participation, which made the event a memorable celebration of friendship and cultural heritage.

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Masterchef Australia semifinalist Sav Perera in Sri Lanka (Pics)

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Savindri Perera who won the 3rd place in MasterChef Australia has arrived in Sri Lanka. 

Savindri, or ‘Sav’ as she is best known by many, was warmly welcomed by the BIA airport staff after her flight from Melbourne landed in Colombo at 10.40pm last night (16).

Sav cooked into the hearts of many through her delightful portrayal of Sri Lankan cuisine throughout the popular competition, earning her a place in the semi finals. 

(Pics : dailynews.lk)

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President participates in deposition of sacred relics at historical Dighavapi Chaitya

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe participated in a significant cultural and religious ceremony yesterday (14) at the historic Deegawapiya Stupa located at the Deegawapiya Raja Maha Vihara. 

The ceremony marked the deposition of relics and treasures, an important event in the ongoing restoration of the ancient stupa.

The renovation project, which began in 2020, has been supported by the Ministry of Defence. 

The event saw the attendance of senior government officials, politicians, and religious leaders, emphasizing the national importance of the restoration work.

Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, General (Retd.) Kamal Gunarathne, addressed the gathering, outlining the ministry’s efforts since 2020. 

He highlighted the contributions of the armed forces in providing labor and the role of public and well-wisher donations in funding the project. 

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