EMBASSY OF SRI LANKA CELEBRATES THAI PONGAL IN WASHINGTON DC

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Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC
Press Release 

 

Washington, January 19, 2013: Sri Lanka Embassy, Washington DC began its calendar of events for the year, with a colorful celebration  of the Hindu harvest festival,  Thai Pongal on Tuesday (Jan 15) amidst  a  large gathering of Hindu devotees of the Sri Lankan American  community , representatives Sri Lanka associations and US officials . Swami Sivanatha Kurukkal recited prayers and conducted religious activities  according to  Hindu traditions.

The Hindu harvest festival, Thai Pongal is one of the important  religious events celebrated in Sri Lanka. It is the thanksgiving ceremony of  Hindus to show their gratitude towards the Sun God for helping them to reap a bountiful harvest.

Proceeding of the evening commenced with lighting of the traditional oil lamp. Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Esala Weerakoon welcomed the guests and conveyed warm greetings from Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya . He  informed the audience that it has been a custom of the Embassy of Sri Lanka to celebrate the important dates of all major religions practiced in Sri Lanka.

Ambassador Weerakoon, noted that this year’s Thai Pongal is celebrated at an important juncture of the country’s history.

“We celebrate Thai Pongal in Sri Lanka with peace and tranquility today. Under the visionary leadership of His Excellency  President Mahinda Rajapaksa , Sri Lanka is making rapid economic progress , and  unity among communities is being forged closely”, he said.
 
Further, Ambassador Weerakoon opined that the time is right for all who call Sri Lanka their home, to join in a collective endeavor to ensure peace, unity and prosperity, in their collective life both at home and abroad.  

The program also featured a special talk on “The significance of Thai Pongal” by Mrs. Kanaga Ranganthan.During her speech, Mrs. Ranganathan cited Sri Lanka as a nation where diverse communities live in peace and harmony with each other.

“Sri Lanka is so blessed and so gifted by  mother nature , and the divine nature to have so much of diversity and multiplicity of the people living their”, she said.

“We find people of different faiths worshiping their own deities in their own way and living very harmoniously with each other which is the true nature of the Sri Lankans”, she added.

She  thanked Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya and the Embassy for organizing the Thai Pongal Celebrations on behalf of the Sri Lankan Tamil community in the U.S.

 
Swami Sivanatha Kurukkal while  offering  Hindu prayers,  presented the offering of Pongal to Lord Ganesh and Deities. He blessed the Presidents of  Sri Lanka and the US, the people of the two countries, and  all participants.

Later, the guests enjoyed a  Sri Lankan  Vegetarian dinner.  

US Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Dr. Alyssa Ayres and James Moore, US Government officials, Hindu American Foundation representatives, journalists  and Sri Lankan community leaders of the Greater Washington were  present .

 
Watch Video on You Tube here 

Pictures :
 

Thai Pongal -2013

Swami Sivanatha Kurukkal and Mrs. Kanaga Ranganthan with the Embassy officials at the Thai Pongal Ceremony organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington , Jan 15, 2013

Mrs. Kanaga Ranganthan

Mrs. Kanaga Ranganthan speaking on “The significance of Thai Pongal” at the Thai Pongal Ceremony organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington , Jan 15, 2013

Thanksgiving prayers

A section of the audience attending the thanksgiving prayers at the Thai Pongal Ceremony organized at the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington , Jan 15, 2013

Preparing Pongal Kolam

Embassy Staff   with  Sri Lankan American  community members preparing the traditional Pongal Kolam Washington , Jan 15, 2013
 

Section of the Gathering

A section of the gathering at the Thai Pongal Ceremony organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington , Jan 15, 2013
 

US Deputy Assistant Secretaries Dr. Alyssa Ayres and James Moore

US Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Dr. Alyssa Ayres and James Moore were among the distinguished guests present at the Thai Pongal Ceremony organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington , Jan 15, 2013

Ambassador Esala Weerakoon with  Swami Sivanatha Kurukkal

Charge d’ Affaires Ambassador Esala Weerakoon with  Swami Sivanatha Kurukkal during the religious observations at the Thai Pongal Ceremony organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington , Jan 15, 2013

 

Sri Lankan Vegetarian Dinner

Guests enjoying the Sri Lankan Vegetarian Dinner, Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington , Jan 15, 2013

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