Watford Sri Lankan New Years Celebration
Anu Wimalarathna via Tissa Madawela
Published: 13 May 2014
The Sri Lankan new years festival is one seeped in history tradition and one which is still foundly remembered and honoured by Sri Lankans all over the world. It is regarded as one of the main cultural celebrations in the expatriate Sri Lankan community and is celebrated all over the UK.
This year saw the second annual New Year festival organised by the Sri Lankan community in Watford hosting even more, games, dances and a separate cultural show.
On Saturday the 26th of April, the day began promptly with beating of the ceremonial drums, ‘Magul Bera’ and raising of the Sri Lankan National Flag by Anura Madagedara. The subsequently array of traditional Sri Lankan Avwurudu games included, amongst others, ‘pin the eye on the elephant’, balloon blowing and the infamous bun (but in this case croissant) eating competition. As delicious and appealing as it may sound, many of our young competitors found that they had bitten off a bit more than they could chew. Literally. The adults were catered for by games such as tug of war, ‘Kanamutti’ and races, with many showing off hidden talents and competitive tendencies.
The cultural show commenced with the lighting of the Traditional Oil Lamp by the invited guests, including Sepala Ratnayaka and H.M.K.Herath from the Sri Lanka High Commission. This was proceeded by the Pooja dance and an assortment of dances and songs which embodied the spirit of the New Year. They depicted the traditions, the prosperity, the happiness and the beauty that is found in, at the start of the Sri Lankan festive season. The evening hosted an ‘Awrudu Kumari’ competition with first, second and third place winners being crowned. Another unique addition to the show was a presentation of several Sinhala folk songs ‘Jana Gee’ trained by Maduka Ferandez. These ancient and distinctive folk songs, which have been passed on for thousands of years are now generally forgotten. The collection gave the audience a brief insight into the myriad of folk songs and poetry that are encompassed within the Sinhala literature. The evening was rounded off by a live band and the singing of the Sri Lankan national anthem.
The event was an extraordinary success due to the hard work and dedication of each individual. A special thanks goes to Olu Suraweera and Anuradini Wickramaarachchi as well as Charitha Gunarathna and Gangadarie Kumarasekara who trained the performers.