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The 67th Independence Day of Sri Lanka was celebrated by the Sri Lankan community on 07 February at the Snug Harbor Music Hall, Staten Island, New York. Despite the bitterly cold weather and piled up snow, the event attracted over 1000 Sri Lankans and expatriates from different ethnic, religious, political and social groups living in the Tri-State area.

The celebration commenced at 4.00 p.m. with the hoisting of the national flag by Dr. Palitha Kohona, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, followed by the singing of the national anthem. A two-minute silence was observed in honour of those who sacrificed their lives in the war to preserve the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka.

The traditional oil lamp was then lit by the Permanent Representative and children from the Tri-State area representing Sri Lanka’s different ethnic and religious groups, followed by blessings offered by Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Islamic religious dignitaries.

In his welcome address, Dr. Kohona highlighted the strength of Sri Lanka’s democratic process amply demonstrated at the recent presidential elections. While conveying his heartiest congratulations to the newly elected President and the Cabinet of Ministers appointed by him, Ambassador Kohona also emphasised the need to further develop Sri Lanka’s relationship with the people and the Government of the United States.

More than 150 children of the Sri Lankan expatriate community participated in a cultural show which followed. This segment showcased the rich cultural diversity of Sri Lanka.

The event was sponsored by well-wishers from both the United States and Sri Lanka. The celebration concluded with the guests being offered refreshments provided by three Sri Lankan restaurants. The crowd was much larger than that anticipated, stretching the resources of these restaurants.

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