- Independence Day is a Sri Lankan national holiday celebrated annually on February 4.
- This year marks the 75th Sri Lanka National Day, also known as Independence Day.
- It is marked through a flag-hoisting ceremony, dances, parades and performances.
Dubai: Sri Lankan expats living in the UAE are looking forward to celebrating their country’s Independence Day on February 4.
National Day, also known as Independence Day, is a Sri Lankan national holiday celebrated annually on February 4 It is celebrated all over the country through a flag-hoisting ceremony, dances, parades and performances.It’s a day of rejoicing and proud commemoration of the country’s independence, as expat Sri Lankans here say the 75th National Day is of utmost significance.
Expats living in the emirates and who have made the UAE their second home, said celebrating their country’s nationhood with family and friends leaves a special bond with them.
National Day, also known as Independence Day, is a Sri Lankan national holiday celebrated annually on February 4 marking the country’s independence from British rule in 1948.
Day of pride
Sagara Gamage, 45, a chartered accountant living in UAE for 17 years and working as Vice President – Finance for a private company, in Dubai said: “The Sri Lanka national day is a celebration. The day instills an extra dose of pride among us citizens for we reminisce the work of our freedom fighters who gave us Independence. On the national day, we expats wear traditional wear, and live the day by our culture and tradition. It is our way of showing love and respect to our nation.”
Flag hoisting ceremony
Every year, the event is celebrated through a flag-hoisting ceremony, dances, parades and performances. Gamage said on the day, Sri Lankan expats in the UAE will be heading to their consulate for flag hoisting.
“Today, the world is going through a challenging economic situation, and Sri Lanka is no exception. On the day, we hope to meet other expats, brainstorm what we can do our country back home. Beside there are a host of activities lined up by the Sri Lanka consulate. We as a family will take part in all of these.”
Bonding with family, friends
Minolee Fernando, 32, who works as a regional finance manager said: “For me, the national day is a celebration of getting together as one nation.”
“The celebrations take place around the country even though the main event is in Colombo. The President of our country takes pride of raising the Sri Lankan flag and delivering a speech which is telecast nationwide.”
Honouring the heroes
Senani Preethika Liyanage, 42, a home-maker explained: “Sri Lanka National Day is held to commemorate the country’s independence. “This year we are going to celebrate our 75th independence day and as expats we are so proud of this special day.
“On this day we pay tribute to Sri Lanka’s heroes who devoted their lives just for giving us independence. As a mother of three kids I educate my children about our country’s history, culture, heroes and tell them about the values of our nation.”
She added : “National day is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. Many celebrations are there all over the island. The main celebration takes place in Colombo with military parades and cultural performances. Religious observations are kept all around the country with citizens wishing peace and happiness for everyone. National unity is promoted all day long as well.”
Birthday on National Day
Waragoda Gamage Don Sujeewa Appuhamy, managing partner for a consultancy company, said his country’s National Day is doubly special: celebrates his birthday on the same day.
“I have the privilege of celebrating my birthday with my nation. Every year is special to me. It is double celebrations for me and the family.”
“Back home, we get together as families in our villages and pay tribute to the national heroes of Sri Lanka who sacrificed so much to bring Independence from British rule in 1948. We also think about the heroes who fought the civil war in 2009, which existed for 30 years in the country.”
Day of pride
Indika Wijayarathne, Head of Finance for a private company in Dubai, said: “Sri Lanka is the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Sri Lankans living abroad celebrate the National Day with pride. It is a great opportunity for us to portray the rich culture we have enjoyed for over 2500 years."
“In the UAE, being a global icon of excellence, tolerance, and diversity of culture, our National Day celebrations are held on a grand scale every year. The event is a colourful display of cultural festivities.
This year, like every other year, Wijayarathne is honoured be an integral part of organising committee for the National Day celebrations.
“The children at home too have been practicing the National Anthem, in preparations for the National Day. It gives them true patriotic feeling about their motherland.”
Expats value national heritage
Virasha Fernando, a senior accountant could not agree more. “The National Day of Sri Lanka is a very important day to all Sri Lankans – especially those living outside the country.
"It is the day we all celebrate our heritage, something we are proud of. The celebration mainly focuses on our traditions and culture. It is celebrated through a flag-hoisting ceremony, dance, parades and performances.”
Appuhamy who has lived in Dubai for 12 years said there is a customary celebration in their hometown where everyone plays a friendly match in the playground with two teams.
“Team members are allocated a team based on their marital status. So we have young adults on one side, married team members on the other side. It is a whole lot of fun.”
Sri Lankan expats in the country pledge to work even harder for the promotion of friendship between the island nation and the UAE.