10th April 2018 19:50:56 Hours
4 Sri Lanka Artillery grounds at Panagoda Army Cantonment came alive on Tuesday (10) when hundreds of all rankers serving the Army Headquarters (AHQ) throughout the day shared Sinhala and Tamil New Year festive spirits by participating in a wide variety of traditional and fun-making games, typical of this forthcoming age-old festival of the Sun.
The festive atmosphere assumed greater importance when the participants' chief, Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake appeared before the gathering to take part in the ‘Bakmaha Ulela 2018’ as the Chief Guest, together with Mrs Chandrika Senanayake, President, Army Seva Vanitha Unit (ASVU). Both of them were welcomed and conducted to the festival venue by organizers before hoisting of the National flag and the Army flag by the Commander of the Army and Major General Dampath Fernando, Chief of Staff respectively, signaled the formal commencement of the day’s event. It soon followed the lighting of the traditional oil lamp by the Commander and a few other senior officers.
One-minute silence afterwards honoured the memory of fallen War Heroes before the recital of the National anthem and the Army song rent the air as all stood to recite them together.
Senior officers at the Army Headquarters, senior ASVU members, Other Ranks, invitees and members of the civil staff joined hands together and competed in a multitude of activities in a relaxed mood adding fun and amusement.
Raban playing, tug-of-war, pillow-fights, grease pole climbing, selection of the ‘Avurudu Kumari’ (new year princess) and the ‘Avurudu Kumaraya’ (new year prince), eye-placing on the Elephant, bun-eating, slow cycling, marathon runs, fancy dress parades, obstacle races and a number of other traditional and fun-making games dominated the day’s proceedings to the much amusement of all those onlookers. Deviating from the day’s hectic work schedule, the Commander mingling with the attendees took part in several games with others.
At the end of the day's event, Lieutenant General Senanayake and several Senior officers gave away gifts and trophies to the winners in different events and competitions, extending their best wishes on the New Year. A buffet lunch treat and refreshments, replete with traditional foods including milk rice, oil cakes, assmi, kokis, etc were served to all who had gathered for the event.