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Government Gazette

Uthuru Vasanthaya :

Cultural Show

A Place in the Sun

With the end of the 30-year armed conflict, new opportunities have dawned to develop and re-build Sri Lanka. Reconstruction of infrastructure and rehabilitation of lives and livelihoods need to go hand-in-hand to achieve the optimum results of rebuilding the nation, which is the most pressing challenge in the post-war scenario. A community’s collective aspiration to make its identity known and accepted needs to be recognised at this point as an important step towards rebuilding its war-battered lives.

Culture essentially represents a community’s identity and captures its richness, nuances and psyche. The Northern Province of Sri Lanka which had been the hotbed of the protracted conflict inherits a culture identity which is unique and deeply rooted in traditional beliefs and customs.

Re-awakening of the cultural ethnic identity is an essential aspect of rebuilding lives. While national efforts are under way to create new opportunities to pay off the lost opportunities, the Northern Provincial Government aspires to re-kindle the cultural identity of the Province and to provide space for its expressions through the medium of art.

These artistic expressions will be creative channels to articulate a community’s heritage and quintessence that are truly unique, which need to be showcased and shared among a larger audience as a measure of resurgence of its identity, which, largely was dormant for many reasons.

(Courtesy: Chandana Arundeva Silva, Head, Organising Committee)

A mega cultural show related to Northern Spring (Uthuru Wasanthaya), will bring on stage in Colombo, the Northern Province culture not seen during the 30 years spent in war. It goes on board on January 20, at 6.30 p.m. at Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Hall.

The stage

About 300 artistes comprising cultural gurus, professional artistes and school children will take part in 14 cultural acts in a two-and-a-half-hour scintillating performance. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is expected to be the Chief Guest.

“In the Northern Province, there are cultural dances similar to the Daha Ata Sanniya and folk dances of the Southern provinces which we have not seen in Colombo,” explained Chandana Arunadeva Silva who provided the concept and art direction of the cultural show and is the Head of the Organizing Committee.

“We wanted to bring people with the knowledge of this culture to Colombo to build linkages with Southern people and to create a space for their culture. This displaying of Northern culture to the world is the first time in Sri Lanka such an event is happening after 30 years.”

Some of the performers are from the internally displaced community. ‘There is a hidden culture, not destroyed by the war and has been protected. In the Northern Province, we focused on the Tamils and the Muslims. In Jaffna and Vavuniya, there is no Sinhala cultural identity. Sinhala cultural identity is mixed with the Southern base. The Tamil artiste community in Colombo has opportunities. We wanted to give an opportunity to the original/pure Tamil artistes in the Northern Province who have the talent, knowledge and the tradition but who do not have the linkages,” Silva said.

At rehearsals, the Organizing Committee observed the performers being not up to the standard. “We thought of giving professional input from Colombo by way of music and choreographic support”, Silva said.

“We did the recording in Colombo and that was the first time they had that experience. We created something new for them.”

Chandana Arunadeva Silva

G.A. Chandrasiri

The performance will include folk dances, Silva described. ‘When we talk of Kathak or Bharatha, what we have in Colombo is fusion Bharatha.

In Northern Province they have the pure forms of Bharatha. Even in the music pieces, they had the original Ragas. I think it is a pure culture.

It has not been destroyed. It is going to be huge international level cultural show. The artistes from the Northern Province said that it is like a dream for them!”

The audience will mainly consist of invitees while 700 tickets are available to the public.

“We thought of inviting all the artistes in Colombo from Nanda Malini, Amaradeva to Bhathiya and Santhush so they could see the talents of the Northern Province people and the relationship of the Northern culture to the Southern culture”, Silva is enthusiastic. The invitations are also to create opportunity. Production and film trades are not developed in the Northern Province.

“The purpose if selling tickets to the public is to develop a Northern Cultural Fund to provide facilities. One that is envisaged is a Recording Studio.

“The tickets will generate only Rs. 700,000 but bringing about 500 people, some of them who are indirectly involved with show, costs us Rs one million,” said Silva.

“They will be in Colombo from January 15. We will be doing the rehearsals here with the help of choreographers, musicians, make up consultants and lighting. Now they are practising in Killinochchi, Jaffna, Vavuniya and other distant places.” New costumes will be provided for the show.

The show is the brainchild of the Northern Province Governor G.A. Chandrasiri who wanted to emphasize that rebuilding is not only rebuilding of houses and roads but giving opportunities to build their internal lives.

“We are having a number of cultural shows in Jaffna Peninsula, Mannar and Vavuniya, organised by the Provincial Council Officers and the Faculty of Arts in the University,” said the Governor. “I found that there is a lot of talent, especially in drama and cultural events.

There are so much of arts that have not been exposed to other areas. Once in a way we see a cultural show in Wellawatte Ramakrishna Hall or Bambalapitiya Kadiresan Hall.

The young participants at rehearsals

I thought that recognition must be given to the people of the Northern Province. The cultural value of the people must show and developed. That is the purpose of the show.” Besides artistes from the Southern Province, distinguished State officials are also among the invitees.

“Arts is a subject that is emotional. At the last moment I had to include a performance from students of Wembady Girls High School as they really wanted to show their capabilities,” said the Governor stressing that such emotional values must be supported.

An Organising Committee Member Prof. A. Shanmugadas from Jaffna University said that rural folk dances and some modern performances from Jaffna, Vavuniya and Manner will be on the agenda.

One is a historical act on how a Tamil King was attacked by other Tamil Kings. Dances connected with agriculture and fishing and a miming performance are also on cards.

L. Ilangavan, Secretary to the Provincial Education, Cultural and Sports Ministry and who is also in the Organising Committee, said that this is the first time the Ministry is taking a hand in promoting culture in the Northern Province. Such performances must be highlighted at national and international level.

Choreographic Consultancy to the mega show comes from Chandana Wickremasinghe while the Music Consultant is Anthony Surendra.

Tickets for the show are priced at Rs. 1,000 and available at Vibrations; Lucky CD World and Little Asia, Colombo 6; Sarasavi Book Shop, Nugegoda and Torana - Liberty Plaza.


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