Peradeniya University Alumni Association - Annual Weekend Outing 2019

By Janaka Seneviratne

Peradeniya University Alumni Association – NSW Chapter (PUAAN) had the annual family weekend gathering from Friday 26 April to Sunday 28 April at the Hunter Valley Retreat (HVR). Over the years this event has gained tremendous popularity that many interested groups have to miss out due to lack of accommodation. It was great to see many young PUAAN members participating with their children.

As usual the event commenced on Friday evening at the resort restaurant which was converted to an inviting function hall with walls decorated with interesting Peradeniya University “kurutu gee” (poetry) well presented with glorious photographs of the University architecture. Padma Kumarasinghe and her team of young ladies kept a mini World University Service (WUS) canteen in operation from 5.00pm providing finger food and drinks to the many hungry guests.

The weekend activities commenced with a minute’s silence in memory of the many who passed away due to the tragic incidents that took place in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. PUAAN President Wijaya Hapukotuwa then warmly welcomed the guests after which the party got into the real mood with the ‘peduru party’ style sing along with Lucky Randeniya, Cicil Fonseka and Lal Rankothge taking the lead. A special significance of this year’s event was that there was no external guest artist as the committee decided on using PUAAN talent.

The evening had much variety. A few humorous Peradeniya anecdotes provided by some PUAAN members from their time at the University kept the audience roaring with laughter. Before long the limited dance floor was filled with revellers. While all this was happening Nalin Karunatilake tested the guests multi tasking skills with his trivia quiz. Drinks were flowing and a super dinner of string hoppers and curry capped off the evening.

Saturday morning’s events began with a traditional breakfast to celebrate the onset of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. This was a glamorous event with all the guests dressed in colourful traditional dresses. President Hapukotuwa explained the significance of the New Year followed by the lighting of the oil lamp. An array of delicious traditional food items, enjoyed by all present, adorned the tables.

This was followed by numerous traditional “Avurudu” games which generated tremendous interest amongst the young and old of both sexes. All events were hotly contested and the enthusiasm was so great that in some events a number of heats had to be held prior to a final round.  While the games were on Cicil Fonseka appeared to be on ‘overtime’ at palm reading under a tree.

On the sidelines in a little kiosk the beautiful PUAAN ladies were busy running the “WUS” canteen where “faluda” and crispy “vadais” were hot favourites. The games concluded with a tug-O –war which took us to the barbeque lunch prepared by HVR staff.

The formal part of the weekend’s enjoyment was held at the Resort’s function hall. The tables were adorned with vases of beautiful flowers arranged by Mallika & Satya Rajapakse. At 7.00 p m, M C for the evening, Neil Horadagoda, again called for a minute’s silence in memory of those who passed away on Easter Sunday. President Hapukotuwa while welcoming the guests explained that it was a very difficult decision that the committee had to take in holding this event in the aftermath of the tragic events in Sri Lanka.

The evening’s entertainment got underway with a beautiful dance by the kids followed by songs from a few talented PUAAN artists. In keeping with the idea of using local talent a skit performed by Devika Fernando and Sampath Jayaweera generated huge amounts of laughter. A special attraction of the evening, which kept the audience mesmerised, was a colourful dance performed by a capable group of ladies and gents. 

After a sumptuous Sri Lankan buffet dinner Bonny and the Heartbeatz got everyone on the floor with a spirited baila session which went on non-stop well past mid-night.

Sunday morning saw hazy eyed individuals trickle into the hall to join in the hot buffet breakfast. Many continued relaxing at the resort, some headed back home, whilst a few went on to the vineyards for wine tasting. From the feedback given by many it was obvious that all had a fabulous weekend and were looking forward to next year’s event.

Click here to enjoy an album of photos by Satya Rajapakse



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