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The Heathrow Athula Dassana International Buddhist Temple Sinhala and Tamil New Year Celebrations
Press Release - Pictures by Asanga Wanniarachige

Sri Lankan nationals and the British friends of Sri Lanka flocked together to celebrate the Sinhala and Hindu New Year in Hounslow, Middlesex. Now in its fifth year, more than 800 Sri Lankans and their friends joined this joyous event. The event was organised by the Athula Dassana Multi-cultural Buddhist Community Centre under the supervision and direction of the Chief Sanganayake of Amarapura Saddham Wansa Niyaka of Great Britain Venerable Wanduramba Kassapa Thero.


Acting Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, H.E. Mr Sugeeshwara Gunaratna marked his presence as the Chief Guest of the event. The Event was attended by a number of other dignitaries including the Mayor of London Borough of Hounslow; Councillor Nisar Malik, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Feltham and Heston Mrs Seema Malhotra, Mrs Usha Malhotra, Mr Sushil Kumar Saluja, Minister Cultural & Education, Sri Lanka High Commission; Mr Manoj Warnapala, Councillor Kairul Kareema Marikar and the Managing Director Estetica Dental Clinic; Mrs Nishanie Bajramovic. 

In addition to the special invited guests the Athula Dassana Multi-cultural Buddhist Community Centre also received a number of special wishes and messages from the H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, the 6th President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka H.E. Ranil Wickremesinghe, former president of Sri Lanka H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa and a special message behalf of the British Government, from Baroness Williams, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government.


At 11:00am the Celebrations began with singing of the Sri Lanka’s national anthem and hoisting of the national flag. Traditional customs and games coupled with cultural items performed by the young and the old, added colour to the event. In keeping with the Sri Lankan tradition there were over 30 games associated with the Aluth Avurudu including a number of popular Avurudu games such as ‘kotta pora’, ‘kana mutti’, coconut scraping and the ever famous adult’s and children’s ‘kamba edeema’ (tug-of-war).


The much anticipated Children’s ‘Avurudu Kumaraya’ and the ‘Avurudu Kumari’ pageants also took to the stage at the celebrations, with the winners receiving their prizes from the Acting Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, H.E. Mr Sugeeshwara Gunaratna.


We are extremely grateful to the Dhamma School Development Committee members and Dhamma School parents who organised and managed all the Avurudu Games.


 As you know an important part of the Aluth Avuruddha is the preparation of avurudu delicacies such as kavun, kokis, aasmi, aggala and aluva.  The stall organised by the Athula Dassana Multi-cultural Buddhist Community Centre provided an opportunity to purchase these sweets to the visitors. All the proceeds from the very successful sale will be use for the development of the Athula Dassana International Buddhist Vihara.


Acting Sri Lankan High Commissioner, H.E. Mr Sugeeshwara Gunaratna while thanking Venerable Wanduramba Kassapa Thero for his tireless efforts to organise this event, in his speech he also highlighted the significance of the New Year events in United Kingdom. While commending the Athula Dassana Multi-cultural Buddhist Community Centre for organising such events annually, to preserve the traditional values among the Sinhala and Hindu communities of Sri Lanka, which would be passed down to younger generations.


The shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Feltham and Heston Mrs Seema Malhotra also thanked Venerable Wanduramba Kassapa Thero for his valuable contributions to the Sri Lankan Community in Hounslow and extend the thanks to all those who have contributed in one way or the other to make the festival a success. Mrs Malhotra concluded her speech by highlighting the traditions, customs, the rites and the rituals associated with the New Year followed for the enhancement of health, prosperity, quality of life and recreation with emphasis on renewal of goodwill depict a rich heritage that is heavy with meaning to the Sri Lankan Community.


Venerable Wanduramba Kassapa Thero in his speech thanked the special invited guest for their ongoing support and thanked the Aththanayaka and Malitha dancing Group, Dhamma School children and other groups who contributed to the cultural show. Venerable Kassapa Thero also appreciated all the volunteers who helped in various ways, and the financial support of various event sponsors and the main sponsor of the event; Mrs Nishanie Bajramovic, Managing Director Estetica Dental Clinic.  

After the official opening of the Cultural show the guests were bought to the Audience hall whilst the ceremonial dancing was being played.  Aththanayaka and Malitha dancing Groups were presented items of highlighted the New Year of Sri Lanka. One of the main highlights of this year’s festival was the cultural show presented by the children of the Dhamma School. This year’s Cultural show was an excellent demonstration of the artistic talents and cultural values of both children and adults within the Sri Lankan Community in the United Kingdom.    

The entire event was covered by Derana TV and Neth FM for airing the event in Sri Lanka. Miss Maheshi Kokila, Miss Maneesha Fernando and Mr Chanaka Samarakoon were the commentators of the festival. Photography and Video by Mr Asanaka Hemachandra, Mr.Jayashanka Wijesinghe Advertising & Computer Design by Mr Disan Nanayakkara. 

Finally, this year’s Aluth Avurudu festival organised by the Athula Dassana Multi-cultural Buddhist Community Centre was a great success and we hope to see you at the 2017 Aluth Avurudu festival!


SESATHA - The Sri Lankan Event Portal in UK