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Presidents unveils plans to develop Mannar as he joins Madhu Church Feast (Pics)

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During his presence at the annual festival of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu in Mannar today (15), President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced plans to transform Mannar into an energy hub. He also revealed that an inter-city express train service between Thalaimannar and Colombo will commence on September 15th aiming at enhancing connectivity and facilitate smoother travel between the two cities.

It is also noteworthy that President Ranil Wickremesinghe participated in the morning service of the feast this year.

Subsequent to the main ceremony, a revered statue of Lady Madhu was respectfully carried in procession throughout the church grounds to pay homage to the devoted attendees.

A significant number of devotees from various parts of the island gathered for the annual feast. The year 2024 marks the completion of 100 years since the enshrinement of the revered statue of Lady Madhu. The church management board has decided to hold services throughout the year to commemorate this occasion.

Rev. Dr. Brian Udaigwe, the The Vatican Apostolic Nuncio of Sri Lanka, who attended the main service, commended President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in Parliament regarding National Peace and Reconciliation. He mentioned that this statement has received the blessings of the Vatican and the Catholic Church.

Rev. Dr. Brian Udaigwe emphasized that religious leaders have a crucial role in maintaining peace and harmony in the country. He also stressed that whether a religious figure divides or unites the country is determined by their own actions.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe further commented:

It must be acknowledged that the annual feasts of the National Shrine of Lady Madhu are an integral part of our local culture. Therefore, considering this festival as a national event, the government bears the responsibility of safeguarding and supporting its continuation.

Furthermore, on this occasion, I extend the government’s gratitude to all the clergy who dedicate themselves to organizing the annual Madhu feast.

Numerous devotees come here to seek solace through prayers to Lady Madhu. During last year’s economic crisis, a substantial number of devotees gathered here to pray for Lady Madhu’s assistance and protection. It can be said that Lady Madhu’s blessings provided us with strength during that challenging time.

The Mannar region, where the National Shrine of Lady Madhu is located, possesses abundant renewable energy resources. With access to solar, wind, and green energies, the Mannar district can be developed into an energy hub.

We have also formulated plans to transform Punarin into an energy city. It is important to note that all these development initiatives are designed to preserve this sacred land and its forests. I have instructed officials to seek advice and guidance from the clergy here during these development efforts.

An inter-city express train service from Thalaimannar to Colombo is scheduled to commence on the 15th of September. This service is being launched in response to the request of MP Charles Nirmalanathan. Additionally, steps have been taken to establish a sugar factory in Vavuniya, as requested by MP Selvam Adekkalanathan. Cabinet approval has been obtained for this project. These measures aim to facilitate rapid development in these regions. Through these endeavors, we aspire to build a developed Sri Lanka by 2048. I count on your support in achieving this goal.

The event was attended by bishops led by Bishop of Mannar Dr. Emmanuel Fernando, clergy including President of the Christian Development Foundation of Sri Lanka Dr. Chandru Fernando, Minister of Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayake, Minister Naleen Fernando, State Minister Arundika Fernando, Kader Mastan, Member of Parliament Kavinda Jayawardene, Selvam Adekkalanathan, Charles Nirmalanathan, President’s Senior Adviser on National Security and President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake, and a large number of devotees.

(President’s Media Division)

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President inaugurates 10th National Scout Jamboree (Pics)

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As the Chief Scout of Sri Lanka, President Ranil Wickremesinghe inaugurated the 10th National Scout Jamboree in Trincomalee today (Feb. 21).

 The National Scout Jamboree is being held in Trincomalee with the participation of 11,500 scouts, from SL & 28 other countries.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Jamboree, President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized Sri Lanka’s potential for rapid development and security enhancement through unified action. 

He stressed the event’s inclusive nature, transcending caste and religious barriers, and highlighted the significance of national unity in achieving common goals. 

The President pledged support for expanding the Scout Association, recognizing its role in fostering responsible citizens. 

Additionally, he announced plans for collaboration between the Scout Association and the Ministry of Technology to harness cross-sector interactions for national progress.

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Indian High Commissioner visits Northern Province (Pics)

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High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka – Mr. Santosh Jha undertook his first official visit to the Northern Province from Feb. 15-17, 2024. 

Diverse engagements during the visit attest to the deep-rooted nature of the bilateral partnership as also India’s firm commitment to deepening socio-economic and cultural ties with Northern Province, a media release by the Indian High Commission notes. With grant assistance of more than SLR 70 billion, Northern Province has been a region of focus in India’s multi-dimensional development cooperation partnership with Sri Lanka and the visit was an opportunity to reiterate India’s unwavering commitment to the people of the region, it adds.
The High Commissioner paid special emphasis to furthering connectivity initiatives, the central theme of the bilateral economic partnership vision document issued in July 2023. He visited Kankesanthurai (KKS) Port and the historic Talaimannar Pier and spoke of the need for expeditious resumption of ferry services between the two countries. He expressed confidence regarding earliest recommencement of Nagapattinam-KKS ferry in the coming weeks and informed his interlocutors of ongoing efforts for the resumption of ferry services between Talaimannar and Rameswaram. During his visit to Palaly Airport, he explored means to strengthen air connectivity through infrastructure development at the airport.

Underscoring the rich and shared cultural heritage between India and Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner offered prayers at the historic Ram Sethu (Adam’s Bridge). He also visited the ancient Thiruketheeswaram temple, which was renovated with grant assistance from the Government of India. He prayed for well-being and prosperity of the people of India and Sri Lanka as he paid respects at the Nagapooshani Amman Temple and Nagavihara in Nainativu island; revered Madhu Church in Mannar; and Nallur Kandaswamy temple. Further, he attended Thyagaraja Aradhana at the iconic Jaffna Cultural Centre, a gift from the people of India. 

Reaffirming India’s commitment to diverse sections of the society, the High Commissioner distributed deep freezers to fishermen communities in Mannar towards enhancing their livelihood opportunities. He also distributed dry rations to hundreds of needy families in Jaffna and Kilinochchi, with special focus on those headed by women. 

In India’s endeavour to contribute towards addressing energy needs of islands off Jaffna, he assessed the readiness for early roll out of the Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems Project in Nainativu Island. It may be recalled that this project is being implemented in Delft, Nainativu and Analaitivu Islands through grant assistance from India. 

The High Commissioner paid homage at the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) Memorial. 

The High Commissioner had engaging discussions with a wide cross section of stakeholders in the region including elected representatives, academics, and businessmen, among several others on avenues for further collaboration and development. 

(Pics : Indian High Commission in Colombo)

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Mace handed over to new Serjeant-at-Arms (Pics)

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Outgoing Serjeant-at-Arms of Parliament Mr. Narendra Fernando traditionally handed over the Mace and the Sword of the Serjeant-at-Arms to his successor Mr. Kushan Sampath Jayaratne this morning (Jan. 30) near the Chamber Door of the Parliament.

As the Serjeant-at-Arms of the Parliament Mr. Narendra Fernando is going to retire today (30) after serving in the Parliament for over 42 years, the Mace and his Sword were traditionally handed over to the successive Serjeant-at-Arms. 

Mr. Narendra Fernando, the 6th Serjeant-at-Arms of the Parliament, took over the duties of the Serjeant-at-Arms from the year 2018.

Accordingly, Mr. Kushan Sampath Jayaratne is scheduled to take over duties as the 7th Serjeant-at-Arms of the Parliament tomorrow (Jan. 31).


(Pics : Department of Communication, Parliament)

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