High Commission of Sri Lanka in India

Building Sri Lanka-India relationships via Kumbh Mela PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Friday, 04 January 2019 13:44

by Austin Fernando
High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in India

I was fortunate to be invited by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India to visit Prayagraj for a day trip to observe the arrangements made for Kumbh Mela, by the Prayagraj Mela Authority, which functions under the State Government of Uttar Pradesh. Being a Buddhist, to integrate my thinking in the lines of believers of Hinduism was not difficult, though I was not previously exposed to this experience in Prayagraj.

Anyway, I was happy to be in Prayagraj within 45 days of arrival in India as High Commissioner of Sri Lanka. Many thanks are due to the MEA and its dynamic State Minister V K Singh, who has initiated a Diplomats’ Visit, on the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As I understand, Kumbh Mela- also called  Kumbha Mela, is a religious festival celebrated four times over the course of 12 years. The site of the observance rotates between four places on four sacred rivers—at Haridwar on the Ganges River, at Ujjain on the Shipra, at Nashik on the Godhavari, and at Prayag (modern Allahabad) at the confluence of the Ganges, the Jamuna, and the mythical river Sarasvati.

My inquiries on Kumbh Mela for the chronology revealed that it is referred to in the Rigveda, Shrimad Bhagavat, and various Puranas and in epics like the Ramayana, the Mahabhaaratha. Recorded history states that it has been in vogue from the Guptha Period. Chinese traveller and scholar Hsuan Tsang has in the 7th century has also described the congregation at Kumbha and the rituals of Sadhus.

12th Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Friday, 04 January 2019 13:40

Sri Lanka dance team enthralled the audience with traditional folk dance at the opening ceremony of the 12th Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) at the Craft Museum, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. DIAF was held from 6 - 9 Dec 2018. Team also performed at the Triveni Kala Sangam on 02 December 2018 and 4th December at the Puarana Quila in New Delhi.

School Exchange Programme St. Mark’s School in New Delhi PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Tuesday, 01 January 2019 13:20

On the 21st of December 2018, ten students from St. Mark’s Senior Secondary School, Meera Bagh, New Delhi, visited the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi, prior to the commencement of their student exchange programme in Sri Lanka which is being funded by the India-Sri Lanka Foundation, New Delhi Secretariat, under its Student Exchange Programme. 

The team, led by Geeta Rajan, Head of International Affairs of the school, and two teachers  Saranpreet Kaur and Naveen Gupta, met with Austin Fernando, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India and the Co-Chairperson of the India-Sri Lanka Foundation, who briefed the students on the history, culture and the lifestyle of the people of Sri Lanka.

He expressed in his briefing that these visits by schools from both countries would greatly contribute to enhancing people to people relations and strengthen social interactions among the younger generation of the two countries. Furthermore, the students were provided with information on Sri Lanka through a video presentation and interaction with other officials in the Mission.

Sri Lanka participated at the Delhi Commonwealth Women’s Association (DCWA) international bazaar PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Tuesday, 01 January 2019 13:06

The High Commission Spouses’ Group Seva vanitha participated at the annual Charity Bazaar namely Delhi Commonwealth Women’s Association (DCWA) international bazaar at the PSOI Lawns in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi on 3rd December 2018.    This International Bazaar was participated by Commonwealth member countries based in New Delhi and local entrepreneurs.  

This year, Sri Lanka stall sold garments, tea and the most significant attraction was the sale of Sri Lankan hoppers.  Freshly cooked, Sri Lankan hoppers were served to the visitors by the chefs from the Sri Lanka Residence. The hoppers were served with traditional raw onion sambol (lunu miris) and fried onions (seeni sambol).  This was a major attraction this year and crowds were queuing up to taste the Sri Lankan traditional hoppers which is a rare opportunity in New Delhi.   

More than 30 countries participated in the bazaar this year with their famous products like garments, foods, chocolates and beverage items as they displayed their items in more than 100 stalls set up inside the bazaar premises. Performers of different diplomatic missions took part in cultural shows — traditional dances, fashion shows — depicting their own cultural heritages.

High Commissioner Austin Fernando pays a courtesy call to Shri Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs of India PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Sunday, 30 December 2018 12:02

High Commissioner met with Shri Kiren Rijiju Minister of State for Home Affairs on 27th December 2018 at the Ministry of Home Affairs.  Minister was assisted by Mr. Dinesh Patnaik, Joint Secretary (IOR) of the Ministry of External Affairs and other officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs.  Cordially welcoming the High Commissioner, Minister emphasized the need to develop closer relations in the areas of religion, culture, economic activities, especially in “Spiritual Tourism” that can benefit both countries positively. 

In response, High Commissioner appreciated the special attention given by the Government of India in maintaining Buddhists places of worship in India.  Furthermore, High Commissioner mentioned that he will personally pursue Indian Credit Line projects to move forward from where it is slow.  He further noted that there are around 1400 defence officials who are undergoing training in India and thanked the Government of India for the opportunities granted.  High Commissioner also briefed the Minister that arrangements are being made by the High Commission to organize a meeting with the participation of Tour Agents, hoteliers and officials dealing with tourism between India and Sri Lanka.  Considering the adept knowledge that Minister Rijiju holds in this subject area, High Commissioner invited the State Minister to grace this proposed meeting to be held in February 2019 to coincide with the Economic Diplomacy programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka.


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