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The Sri Lanka Educational, Cultural and Welfare Foundation Staged its 26th consecutive Sri Lankan Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebration, in great style,  on Saturday 30 April 2016 at the Byron Recreation Ground and the Byron Hall of the Harrow Leisure Centre, from 10.00 am to 11.00 pm.

Since its inception, the festival has advanced in content and variety and this year the vast audience witnessed and applauded a completely different format.

At 11.am the custom of boiling of Milk began with the playing of RABBAN , to the  rhytham of  Iddamalen Mal Vadamai,  Dontha Thakirika; Nelun Malen Mal Vadamai, Dontha Thakirika; Iddamalen Mal vadamai, Nelun Malen Mal Vadamai; Dontha Thakiri, Dhontha Kakiri, Dhontha Thakirika . The National Flag was hoisted by the Representative of the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, MR D.D. Yoganathan, Minister Counsellor, Political Affairs. , with the participation of Aggamahapandita Venerable Galayaye Piyadassi,MBE, Councillor Kareema Marikar of Harrow, Mr Ruwan Kumara, Chief Operating Officer, Bank of Ceylon(UK) Ltd, Mr Mano Warnapala, Counsellor Education and Culture of the High Commission and other Officials. The students of the Sri Saddhatissa School led the singing of the National Anthem. Afterwards the usual Avrudhu customs and rituals were enacted by the students and staff of the School for the Maha Sangha and VIPP present.

Meanwhile the outdoor game and sports which began at 10.00am continued . The climbing of the grease pole, the pillow  fighting and the tug of war by both men and women took pride of place. Because of the generosity of sponsors suitable prizes were  awarded to the winners and the two runners up.

The special guests who arrived at 1.30 pm were treated to Tea and Sri Lankan delicacies before being  ceremonially  escorted by drummers and dancers to the Byron Hal at 2.00 pm. After the five precepts were observed , Professor Mudiyanse Dissanayake arranged  for a  troupe of dancers to enter the hall in formation and pose in front of the stage, with outstretched hands, holding decorative candle holders for the special guests to light. It was an awesome sight, never seen before.

In his welcome address Aggamahapandita Venerable Galayaye Piyadassi Sangha Nayaka Thero pointed out that  that Sri Lanka Educational, Cultural and Welfare Foundation was initially  formed in 1988, to sponsor the education of poor children in Sri Lanka by offering scholarships worth One Thousand Rupees each. Later the BOYS HOME at Hettipola was established, with 60 inmates – youth offenders and orphans, Now there are nearly a hundred, some have even entered the Universities. After  the Tsunami, with the funds raised here, donations were given to various organisations at a ceremony at the BMICH and also 12 homes built for the homeless in the Kingsbury Village at Walahanduwa, Galle. The Foundation also held an Art Contest for School Children in Sri Lanka, and selected paintings exhibited at the former Commonwealth Institute in London and the Prize winners were given a trip to London. The  Sri Saddhatissa Saturday School besides Buddhism, also teaches Kandyan Dancing and singing

This festival began originally to give these students a stage to show their talents. Those who have witnessed the event would have been surprised by talent on show.

The Members of Parliament who attended the ceremony, Hon. Garreth Thomas of Harrow West, Hon. Bob Blackman of Harrow East, Hon Barry Gardiner of Brent and Hon. Matthew Offord of Hendon,in their speeches  praised the service rendered by  Ven. Galayaye  Piyadassi for the promotion Sri Lankan Religion as well as Culture. All 4 Members of Parliament have visited Sri Lanka and they were  pleased  that the conflict is over and peace has returned. They hoped that this beautiful island will now prosper. The same was said by Councillor Kareema Marikar of Harrow , who spoke in Sinhala , Tamil and English who also called for the unity of all Sri Lankans, not only at home, but also in this country.  H E Sugeeshwara Gunaratna, Actg. High Commissioner of Sri Lanka , traced the history of the New Year Celebration from ancient times and praised the efforts of the organisers to stage such a magnificent event.

The other special guests included Councillor Lesley  Jones, MBE, the Worshipful Mayor of Brent;, Mr Leslie Morgan,, Representative Deputy Lieutenant, Mr Anton John Pulle , Chief Executive Officer , Bank of Ceylon (UK)Ltd, Mr Mano Dharmaraja, Former Mayor of Harrow, Mr Nizam Ismail, former Mayor of Harrow Mr Victor Cherubin, CCAT; Dr Zimar Sivardeen, President and Chairman of the British Sri Lanka Association The Cultural Programme was arranged to meet the tastes of the younger generation, jointly by Professor Mudiyanse Dissanayake, and  Mr and Mrs Attanayake and the teachers of the Sri Saddhatissa School and was universally acclaimed.

For the Musical Show from 6.00pm to 11.00 pm the Sky High Band provided superb music, and the guest artistes Chadana Kanganaarachchi and Upali Kannangara sang both old and new songs, which pleased the young as well as the old, and received  great ovations

The crowd was very appreciative of the programme which was considered the best ever Avurudhu Festival


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