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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

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New Year cheer for Lankans in Qatar

An estimated 10,000 Sri Lankans trooped to the Al Arabi Sports Club in Qatar despite the hot weather to celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year – Bak Maha Ulela 2013.


Singer-comedian Tissa Abeykoon entertains the audience. Picture by Joey Aguilar

Sri Lankan Ambassador Jayantha Palipane led the lighting of the traditional oil lamp. This was followed by traditional games, entertainment shows and sports activities.

Artistes like Damayantha Kusum Perera Jayathungage, Biyanka Fonseka, Tissa Abeykoon and Dinusha Lakmali Rajapathirana entertained the crowd with their songs, acting talent and a comedy show.

“The New Year is one of our major events aside from the Independence Day celebration where thousands of expatriate workers can enjoy and have fun,” Sri Lankan Co-ordinating Committee, Qatar, President Lenny Cramer said.

When he came to Doha 17 years ago, the New Year was already being celebrated by over 35,000 Sri Lankan expatriate workers. The community now has more than 150,000 members, mostly from the construction sector.

Many believe that attending this annual event will bring prosperity and other blessings to their country and their families for the entire year. “They know everything works well for them especially in the future,” Cramer said. Employment and Welfare counsellor W M V Wansekara said there was a high demand for Sri Lankans in Qatar, with as many as 68,000 coming to the country in 2012. Of the 150,000 Sri Lankan expatriates, 15 percent are in the domestic sector, 65 percent in construction and the rest in hospitality and other sectors. The Sri Lankan Community Benevolent Fund set up a food stall at the venue to raise funds for those in need.

During the entertainment shows, groups of people were seen dancing and singing on the field while the artistes sang on stage.

“This is a time to release our stress, a day to bond with friends and families and a chance to get entertained by our local artistes,” said a young Sri Lankan who was part of a group which stayed until the end of the programme.

Courtesy: Gulf Times

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