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Deepavali Celebrated in Canada amidst attempts to disrupt the event


The Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa, Canada and the Consul General’s Office in Toronto in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Tamil Community, for the second time, organised a colourful event to celebrate the Deepavali festival 2011 on Sunday 6th November at the Korean Cultural Centre in Toronto.

The significance of this year’s event was the participation of large numbers from the Tamil community despite the repeated requests by pro-LTTE elements to boycott the event. There were also attempts to disrupt and sabotage the programme by infiltrating their supporters to the event, but the programme went on successfully as planned. Prior to the event  there were repeated announcements on a Tamil  radio channel  requesting  the People  to join  a  demonstration against  the government  of Sri  Lanka ,which was staged outside the premises with around 100 people.

The Minister of National Languages and Social Integration of Sri Lanka, Vasudeva Nanayakkara was the Chief Guest at this year’s celebration. Religious dignitaries of the Buddhist, Hindu, Islam and Christian clergy graced the occasion and over 400 Sri Lankans participated in this function.

The Deepavali celebration commenced with a special Hindu pooja conducted by Siva Shri Thiyagarajah Kurukkal of the Sri Durrka Hindu Temple, North York, Toronto to invoke blessings to all Sri Lankans living in and outside the country.

Hon. John Carmichael, Member of the Federal Parliament, Hon. Michael Coteau, Member of the Provincial Parliament, Mr. Bruce Levey, the Canadian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, and officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade were among the special invitees.



In his speech, Minister Nanayakkara reiterated the need for the Tamil and Sinhala communities living outside the country to interact with each other with dignity and respect and that such national festivals provide space to develop relations between communities. He underlined the importance of learning each other’s language and the role of his Ministry in implementing the National Language Policy with a view to bringing reconciliation and one Sri Lankan identity. He also spoke of the lost opportunities and the unique opportunity before us now to work towards this goal.

High Commissioner Chitranganee Wagiswara referring to peace building and many hurdles that Sri Lanka has to face urged, the Sri Lankan Diaspora to extend their support and contribute towards peace and reconciliation, as sons and daughters of one country. The Consul General Karunaratne Paranawithana in his welcome address stated that no one should be allowed to destroy the historical bond between the communities living in Sri Lanka and this bond needs to be maintained in Canada and that the High Commission and the Consulate  General’s Office is there to facilitate this process.

The Deepavali Message of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was read in Tamil and English. The Official ceremony was followed by cultural performances depicting Tamil traditions including playing of a Nadaswaram, by the Sri Lankan artists living in Canada. At the end of the programme, a reception was hosted with traditional food and sweets associated with Deepavali.

During his stay in Canada, Minister Nanayakkara attended a number of meetings with the Members of Parliament and Senior Officials of the Canadian government. He also addressed some Members of Parliament at the Parliamentary Centre and had an interactive session  with the Sri Lankan community to brief them on post conflict developments in Sri Lanka and the vision and the programme of action of his Ministry to implement the Official Language policy of the Government of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka High Commission

Ottawa, Canada

November 8, 2011