By The Sinhalese Cultural Centre, NSW, Sydney
It was a momentous occasion for the Sinhalese community in Sydney, Australia in particular, and for all Sri Lankans living outside Sri Lanka in general, when the ‘Sinhalese Cultural Centre’ was declared open on the 18th of April 2021, in Seven Hills, Sydney Australia by the Hon. Lakshman Hulugalle, Consul-General for Sri Lanka in Sydney.
This historic moment was a result of a vision fulfilled- ‘a place of our own’ for the Sinhalese Cultural Forum of NSW, Australia Inc. Ever since the inception of the ‘Forum’ in 1990, the need for a ‘place of our own’ was highlighted at Executive Committees and General Meetings. Through numerous consultation processes and procedures, the ‘Forum’ realised the necessity to establish the ‘Sinhalese Cultural Centre’, to promote Sinhalese culture, consistently with the objectives of the ‘Forum’, as an adjunct to the work of the ‘Forum’.
After the unveiling of the ‘plaque’ by the Consul-General for Sri Lanka in Sydney, the ceremonial program commenced with religious observances by Ven. Tallangalle Siri Dhamma Thera of Lankarama and Rev. Fr. Hillarian Fernando of the Catholic church. As per custom, the public meeting started with the lighting of the traditional oil lamp by the Consul-General the Hon. Mr Lakshman Hulugalle, Mr Nihal Fernando, Chair, Sinhalese Cultural Centre, Ms Madhuri Arampatta President of the Sinhalese Cultural Forum of NSW, Australia Inc and Dr Ubeyasiri Wijeyananda Wickrama, Founder, Joint Secretary of the ‘ Forum’ and a current member of the Sinhalese Cultural Centre Board. Jayamangala gathas were recited to invoke blessings for the occasion.
Upul Padukka- Vidana, a member of the Sinhalese Cultural Centre Board, was the Master of Ceremonies, he began with acknowledging the traditional owners of the land in which the Centre was situated. He invited the Consul-General Mr Lakshman Hulugalle to address the gathering. He stressed the significance of a ‘centre’ of this nature to establish one’s own identity in a multicultural society like Australia and promised to provide any support required from Sri Lanka. Mr Nihal Fernando, Chair, Sinhalese Cultural Centre, expressed in detail the origins of the project and the wholehearted support he and the team got from the community- especially through the effort of the ‘Jana Shakthi’ contributors, donors and selfless dedication of volunteers. He especially commended with gratitude the trust and confidence the community has placed in the Sinhalese Cultural Centre Board. Ms Madhuri Arampatta, President of the Sinhalese Cultural Forum of NSW, Australia Inc thanked the office bearers past and present for their contribution to keep the ‘Forum’ active in order to fulfill its objectives over the period of 30 years.
A symbolic presentation of the ‘key’ was done by Mr Nihal Fernando, Chair, Sinhalese Cultural Centre to the President of the ‘Forum’ Ms Madhuri Arampatta.
Dr Ubeyasiri Wijeyananda Wickrama, traced the origins of the movement for a ‘Cultural Centre’ and reiterated that it would play a significant role to promote, foster and propagate, Sinhalese cultural heritage in a culturally diverse Australia, to maintain ethnic identity.
Mr Anuruddha Uduwela, the Treasurer of the ‘Forum’ and a member of the Sinhalese Cultural Centre Board conveyed the vote of thanks on behalf of the organisers.
All guests and participants were served with ‘kiribath’ and sweets followed by tea and coffee.