By a Special Correspondent
( May 27, Los Angeles, CA, Sri Lanka Guardian) Americans got a first-hand glimpse of how the fall of the LTTE was celebrated in Sri Lanka when a group of expatriates carrying flags and beating drums marched in procession along busy Wilshire boulevard in the heart of metropolitan Los Angeles. With shouts of ‘Peace at Last” and “Sri Lankavata Jayawewa’ rising above the noise of car engines, the March 20 event was very much along the lines of the spontaneous street celebrations seen throughout Sri Lanka in the days following the final collapse of the LTTE.
Organized by the Sri Lankan Patriots (SLP), USA, the “Jayagosha” as it was called brought together virtually all the diehard anti-LTTE vigilantes in Los Angeles -- the Sri Lankans who had over the years sacrificed their time and money to organize marches, write letters to newspapers and political leaders, and raised their voices to highlight the brutalities of the Tamil Tigers.
“The organizing of “Jaya-Gosha” was almost spontaneous. Those of us who yearned this victory for decades had to celebrate in open streets as was the case in streets of Colombo and distant townships in Sri Lanka, said Kanthi Edirisinghe, committee member of SLP.
She said the event celebrated Sri Lanka’s grand success against a vicious terrorist force, paid tribute to the brave Sri Lankan armed forces and the political leadership while reflecting the expression of sheer joy by those who had been in the thick of the battle against the LTTE lobby in the USA for the past three decades.
After a noisy procession around several blocks, the celebrators gathered in front of the Consular office of Sri Lanka at the busy corner of Wilshire Blvd and Vermont to ceremonially submit a ‘sannasa’ to Consul General Ananda Wickremasinghe.
At the head of the procession was a large banner depicting the theme of the event, “Sri Lanka defeats terrorism – Peace at last. On either side of the banner were enlarged photos of Sri Lankan president Rajapakshe. Behind it was a team of drummers led by Jagath Lakpriya ably assisted by Rohitha Sudharshan and Saman Boralage, beating Hewisi and the Daula, which was followed by K.D.Somasiri, in national dress, carrying a scroll containing a “Sandeshaya” to be delivered to President Rajapakshe. ‘K.D.’ who has participated in virtually every demonstration and procession in Los Angeles, was bursting with pride as he held the Sannasa high over his head.
Leading Buddhist monks from the Sri Lankan temples in the Los Angeles area walked silently amidst the fluttering Sri Lankan flags, giant photos of Defense secretary Gothabhaya Rajapakshe and the military chiefs, as well as dozens of posters denouncing terrorism. The procession having done several rounds gathered at the entrance to the building housing the Consular office chanting more slogans and beating the hewisi, to proclaim in the historically traditional manner, the elation over the defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka.
Consul General Wickremasinghe formally accepted the “Sandeshaya” on behalf of the GOSL.
Addressing a meeting that followed Mr. Wickremasinghe thanked SLP for taking the leadership in organizing the event and emphasized that voluntary organizations have an important role in making meaningful contributions to their land of birth. “Our President had a clear vision of eradicating terrorism and as we now move on to the second phase which is to develop the country devastated from terrorism we need contributions from our diaspora towards achieving such goals.” he concluded.
Special guests at the event were members of (COPAA), Council of Pakistan and American Affairs, with whom SLP has collaborated on previous occasions and representatives of a few other Sri Lankan groups.
“We Sri Lankans with diverse back grounds and different political party affiliations are gathered here today to celebrate defeat of terrorism” mentioned Rohitha Sudhrshana, co president of SLP making the welcome speech, before inviting visiting monk Ven Napatawela Dhammananda, to conduct the meeting.
A solemn and emotional “Pushpa-Upahara” (floral tribute) for the fallen soldiers was conducted with participants placing roses at the photoof an unnamed soldier, which was placed on a specially constructed dais. Every one expressed honor and respect while ex soldiers present at the gathering saluted the fallen, the military way.
Ven Bogolle Sumana of Sri Rathana Buddhist center taking the lead of offering blessings commented upon the importance of a country sans terrorism. Catholic prayers were conducted by Mrs Winifred Silva while a short reading from the holy Quran to bless Sri Lanka was read by COPAA president Adnan Khan.
Khan also congratulated the GOSL on liberating the country from terrorism. “Pakistan too is burdened with terrorism and hope we too would be able to overcome the problem like Sri Lanka has done’ he added.
Ven Aparakke Punnyasiri, Chief incumbent of the Maithri Buddhist meditation Center in Sun valley, Los Angeles and co secretary of SLP, commented on the past activities of SLP “We have carried out numerous activities on behalf of our motherland, by way of protest campaigns, writings, agitations and helping war veterans, apart from social and cultural activities; yet at times I am amazed to note the low priority, that some of our community members give to such events. I laud the political leadership and the armed forces of Sri Lanka for uprooting the long term menace we were faced with and invite fellow Lankans to join us in helping our beloved motherland”, said Ven Punnyasiri
The CG was invited to cut a cake specially made for the event with words congratulating the armed forces marked on it.
“We fully agree with President Rajapaksa’s mention on his address to the Parliament of Sri Lanka the other day, that there are only two categories of Lankans; those who are patriotic and those who are not!,” said Narada Gangadhara, committee member of SLP who never fails to wear his Lion Flag pin to Sri Lankan events.
The gathering dispersed for refreshments of kavum and kiribath after singing the Sri Lankan national anthem.