(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Sri Lanka's 66th Independence Day was celebrated in formal functions at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate in Dubai on Tuesday morning.
Sri Lankan expatriates take part in a prayer service held to mark the Independence Day celebrations at their consulate in Dubai on Tuesday. - KT photo by Shihab
Despite it being a working day, many Sri Lankans took time out and dressed in formal and festive attire to attend the ceremonies. Two other functions were held at the Royal Meriden Hotel and the Ritz Carlton, organised by Sri Lankan expats.
Dr Mahinda Balasuriya, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UAE, said he was "very pleased with the attendance". The premises of the consulate were done up with lotus and jasmine flowers. Although the national flower of Sri Lanka is 'nil manel' - the blue water lily - the pink lotus was the next best available choice of venue decoration.
The ceremony began with the hoisting of the national flag. The rich natural fauna of Sri Lanka is emblematic in the bright yellow-bordered national flag in which a lion holds a sword in its right paw. The extreme edges of the flag bear a bo leaf each.
The centerpiece of the ceremony, the ceremonial lamp, was at least 5feet tall with two tiers and a brass peacock at its head. It had jasmine spiraled around its length, and at its base were placed more pink lotuses and beautiful yellow chrysanthemum flowers. The lamp was placed on a fan of leaves formed by the temple flower tree - frangipani.
Of the ladies present at the ceremony, some were dressed exquisitely in their national weave, the saris draped in the traditional manner, and adorned with gold.
Ambassador Dr Balasuriya and M.M. Abdul Raheem, Consul General of Sri Lanka, delivered a message of peace by the president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, at Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively. The message spoke of restating "Sri Lanka's commitment to safeguard our freedom". It honoured the members of security forces who laid down their lives in "protecting the sovereignty of Mother Lanka", and the bravery and courage of the security forces in "rooting out separatist terrorism".
The function concluded at around 10.00am. There were light Sri Lankan traditional refreshments prepared specially for the occasion by a Sri Lankan chef.
Leaders greet Rajapaksa
abu dhabi - The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has sent a congratulatory cable to President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka on the occasion of the anniversary of his country's Independence Day.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has dispatched a similar cable to the Sri Lankan president.