High Commission of Sri Lanka in India

SAARC Cultural Centre in Colombo holds the inaugural event PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Thursday, 23 September 2010 06:19

Addressing a Seminar titled Rituals, Ethics and Societal Stability in the SAARC Region, held at the SAARC Cultural Centre on 23 September 2010, Acting Minister of External Affairs Hon Gitanjana Gunawardena said  that ours is a region that reflects a rich and varied plurality of cultural, linguistic, philosophical and spiritual traditions. We are, heir to a common civilizational continuum of great antiquity he added.

The Seminar was the inaugural event of the SAARC Cultural Centre in Colombo.

The full Text of Speech

I value this opportunity to be here today at the inaugural event of the SAARC Cultural Centre. I thank the Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre for inviting me and I also thank the staff of the Cultural Centre for their effort in organising this important event.

Ours is a region that reflects a rich and varied plurality of cultural, linguistic, philosophical and spiritual traditions. We are, heir to a common civilizational continuum of great antiquity. Our heritage is embedded in spiritual values and ethics representative of the major religions of the world. We have also given forth to the world, a large number of its greatest philosophers, political visionaries, writers, poets and artists.

As pointed out by His Excellency, Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka in his address inaugurating the 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo in July 2008, “We, in South Asia share a rich and common heritage, a heritage of understanding and of tolerance, a heritage that respects learning and wisdom, and takes pride in sharing the bounties of nature. But for this great heritage that transcends differences and upholds the value of a shared purpose and existence, our diverse cultures, languages and religious traditions could have made us the most divided region in the world. Instead, by and large we see a great harmony among our peoples.”

The heads of States or Governments of SAARC at the Colombo Summit in 1998 were unanimous in their recognition that SAARC should draw more deeply on the strength of our shared cultural heritage as a means of harnessing our collective strengths. The SAARC Ministers of Culture at their meeting in Islamabad in 2004 decided to establish the SAARC Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka.

In this context, it is significant and timely that following the 15th Summit of the SAARC in Colombo in August 2008 under the Chairmanship of His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the SAARC Cultural Centre, was established in Colombo on 25th March 2009.

The dedicated efforts of the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature which has been working under the SAARC banner for well over a decade to strengthen cultural connectivity through literary and cultural interactions and dialogue will be further strengthened with the SAARC Cultural Centre. The advances of the Information and Communication Technology provides a strong impetus for the Centre to further the SAARC dialog and interact with the global village.

The theme of the Seminar relates very closely to the main intention of establishing the Centre, namely, to draw more deeply on the strength of our shared cultural heritage as a means of harnessing our collective strengths.

For this purpose, it is essential that we draw from our rich collective cultural heritage and traditional value systems nourished by the three main faiths of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam and other faiths.

The Ashokan edicts, as far back as 269 BCE relate to moral precepts based on the doing of good deeds, respect for others, generosity, fairness in the exercise of justice, respect for all religions and views, caution and tolerance, as well the protection of fauna and conservation of wildlife.

Our traditional value systems based on ancient wisdom also recognised the delicate relationship between man and his environment and thus the necessity to protect and nurture the environment.

We believe, as stated in the Mahinda Chintanaya – Vision for the Future, that a “person with high sense of art and culture will see the world with a serene mind” and that “art and culture in a country should be able to reflect its past glory as well as focus on the future of the society”.

Due to constraints of time, I am compelled to be brief, but I am sure that the learned scholars from our region who are gathered here today will delve deep into our traditional and timeless value systems that can help us find solutions to our modern-day problems and heal our fractured societies.

Based on such value systems, we in Sri Lanka have been able to completely redeem a section of our people from agonies they have suffered for over three decades of subjugation by terrorism, through the successfully concluded humanitarian operation carried out by our valiant forces with dedication and patience, under the guidance of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka.

 

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