07th February 2020 08:50:18 Hours
The 72nd National Independence Day ceremony that re-affirmed the commitment for strengthening of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, economic development, reconciliation and peaceful co-existence, took place at the historic Independence Square at Torrington, Colombo 7 this morning (4) with pomp and pageantry.
The colourful national spectacle of the year was dignified by the presence of religious leaders, His Excellency, the President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the First Lady, Mrs Ioma Rajapaksa and a host of distinguished invitees, including Hon Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his spouse, Mrs Shiranthi Rajapaksa, former President, Mrs Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Speaker, Chief Justice, Leader of the Opposition, Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs, Admiral of the Fleet, Marshal of the Sri Lanka Air Force, Governor for Western Province, State Ministers, Secretary to HE the President, Secretary to Hon Prime Minister, Secretary to Ministry of Defence, Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, Commander of the Navy, Commander of the Air Force, Acting Inspector General of Police, Director General of the Civil Security Department, Secretaries to Ministries, District Secretary for Colombo, Additional Secretaries, Ambassadors, Officers and civilians.
This year’s National Day celebration, graced by the Russian Federation’s Commander-in-Chief of the Land Forces, General of the Army, Oleg Salyukov leaves a landmark in the country’s post-war phase of development as a distinguished top-rung foreign military officer who added colour and grandeur to the event at the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, acting Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army.
Today’s ceremony commenced with the arrival of HE, the President, along with the First Lady Mrs Ioma Rajapaksa. They were formally received by Hon Prime Minister and Mrs Shiranthi Rajapaksa and Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs, Hon Janaka Bandara Tennakoon.
HE the President’s arrival at the venue, accompanied by mounted Policemen and Tri-service Military Police outriders in a colourful pageant, was heralded by blowing of trumpets.
Seconds after that, the Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, Commander of the Navy, Commander of the Air Force and Acting Inspector General of the Police conducted HE, the President to the main flag post where he hoisted the National Flag, amidst rhythmic beating of Magul Bera (auspicious drums) and blowing of conch shells while 100 school girls from eleven multilingual girls’ schools in the province, sang the national anthem, filling all patriotic hearts with pride of being an independent nation, rich with age-old unmatched cultural ethos.
Afterwards, HE the President from the special dais received the blessings of the recital of ‘Jayamangala Gatha’ and ‘Devo Vassatu Kalena’ stanzas, presented by a bevy of 100 school girls in the province. It was followed by observance of a two-minute silence in memory of all the patriots and War Heroes who laid their lives for the noble cause of defending the Nation.
The next phase of the day’s agenda was the colourful tri-service Guard of Honour, accorded to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, followed by the customary 21-Gun Salute, presented by Sri Lanka Artillery Regiment.
Next was time for the much-awaited President’s address to the Nation, in which he called upon all Sri Lankans, irrespective of petty differences, to rise to the occasion and jointly help overcome all the challenges on our road to recovery. His Excellency also expressed his heartfelt gratitude towards everyone who sacrificed in achieving the freedom we enjoy today.
Soon after his address, the smart parade comprised of tri-service Officers and Other ranks, Police and the Civil Defence Service personnel in their respective ceremonials was reported by the Parade Commander, Major General Mahinda Mudalige, Commander, Security Forces - West to the Chief Guest who took the Salute in accordance with military traditions.
A total of 5988 troops, Police personnel and Civil Security Department personnel attired in their ceremonial dresses afterwards began their march-past, according their salute to His Excellency, the President, the Chief Guest on the occasion.
Rhythmic cultural troupes, made up of well-known artistes, school students and others added special colourfulness to the whole parade as the day’s programme drew to a close. These cultural dances were from different areas in the Western province.
Religious dignitaries of all denominations and a massive crowd of spectators witnessed the National Independence Day proceedings. (See Presidential Address to the Nation in Highlight 1)