Sunday, February 8, 2009

Grand Independence Day Celebrations at the University of Oxford

The Sri Lanka Society at the University of Oxford organised a very grand and elaborate event to mark the 61st Independence Day of the country. It was held at the University of Oxford on the 1st of February 2009 (Sunday).

The celebrations consisted of 3 separate events - a Special Service, a Charity Tea and the Main Ceremony. All were held in the prestigious surroundings of the University of Oxford. Founded in 1249 AD, the University is one of the most hallowed seats of learning in the world and the oldest university in the English-speaking world.

For the first time in its 900-year history, a Special Service was held at the University of Oxford, to bless the country and the people in celebration of our 61st Independence Day. The service was organised by the Sri Lanka Society at the historic 16th Century Chapel at the University and was be led by Rev. Dr Andrew Gregory (Chaplain, Oxford).

The guests next attended a charity tea titled “Independence Tea for Charity” in aid of the “Api Wenuwen Api Fund.” Guests were treated to traditional short eats (including kiribath and katta sambol) and legendary “Ceylon Tea”. Foreign guests had their taste buds titillated by the wide array for traditional food and the tea received very high praise.

The Main Ceremony was the highlight of the evening. It had a cultural themed and showcased the rich diversity, magnificent beauty and cultural heritage of the country.

Thereafter, blessings of the main religions were invoked on the country, H.E. the President, the armed forces and the people.

H.E. Justice Nihal Jayasinghe, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to the UK was the Chief Guest. Also present at this event were a galaxy of high-profiled distinguished guests from both Oxford University and the diplomatic community in London. The impressive guest list included:

Sir Ivor Crewe (Master - University College, Oxford)
Hon. Nirj Deva, DL (MEP for South East England)
Her Worship Susanna Pressel (the Lord Mayor of Oxford)
Dr. Rosa Fernandez (Senior Pro-Proctor, University of Oxford)
Prof. Edman Tsang (Head of Wolfson Catalysis Laboratory, University of Oxford)
Dr. Rajaie Batniji (Junior Dean, University of Oxford)
H.E. Mr. Yuri Octavian Thamrin (Ambassador of Indonesia to the UK)
H.E. Prof. Manuel Hassassian, (Ambassador of the Palestinian General Delegation to the UK)
H.E. Murari Raj Sharma (Ambassador of Nepal to the UK) and Lady Sharma.
H.E. Manzoor Azad (Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK)
H.E. Mr. Ahmed Sareer (Deputy High Commissioner of the Maldives in the UK)
Mr. Ahmed Haanee Naeem (Third Secretary – Maldivian High Commission)
Mr.Tumpal Hutagalung (of the Indonesian Embassy)