Monday, February 05, 2007

A ceremony that elicited the true meaning of freedom

Originally uploaded by $haan.
National Flags fluttered proudly at Galle Face Green as the 59th anniversary of Independence dawned yesterday. The colourful National Day celebration marking Sri Lanka's liberation from foreign domination was held at Galle Face yesterday, with President Mahinda Rajapaksa participating as the Chief Guest.

The arrival of President Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa was heralded by the blowing of trumpets by the Sri Lanka Army. They were received by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, Public Administration Minister Karu Jayasuriya, Home Affairs Minister R. Gajadeera, Western Province Governor Alavi Moulana and Western Province Chief Minister Reginald Cooray.

The Chief of Defence Staff, the three Services Commanders and the IGP conducted the President to the Main Flag Post where he hoisted the National Flag, amidst the beating of Magul Bera and the blowing of Conch Shells by Artists of the Ministry of Cultural and National Heritage. This was followed by a 21 Gun Salute to the President, who later addressed the Nation.

The National Anthem was sung by a bevy of 100 schoolgirls representing seven Girls' Schools in Colombo - Vishaka Vidyalaya, Sirimavo Bandaranaike Vidyalaya, Devi Balika Vidyalaya, St. Bridget Convent, Janadhipathi Vidyalaya, Ramanathan Hindu Balika Vidyalaya, Muslim Ladies College and three from outstations - Kurunegala Maliyadeva Balika Vidyalaya, Debarawewa National School and Dehiathakandiya National School.

Jayamangala Gathas and "Devo Vassathu Kalena" was also sung by 25 school girls of seven selected schools from these 10 schools.

The colourful pageant ended with a 'March Past' by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, STF and the Civil Security Forces who portrayed their strength and dexterity. Naval offshore patrolling and surveillance crafts, Sayura, Sagara, Nandimithra, Samudura, Shakthi and Udara, displayed their manoeuvrability skills in the sea off Galle Face Green, while Kfir and MiG fast-attack aircraft of the Air Force displayed their air power.

This was followed by 'Group Performances' including 'Ves Netum' and traditional drums.

Yesterday's ceremony reflected the will of the Nation to face the myriad challenges of the present and the future as one, devoid of any ethnic, religious or political differences.

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