04th February 2021 11:43:34 Hours
Commemorating her 73rd National Independence Day under the theme, ‘Isurumath Heta Dinak-Saubhagyawath Mawubimak’ (Glorious Tomorrow & A Prosperous Motherland) in a simple, yet dignified and colour-rich ceremony at the Independence Square at Colombo 7, the pearl of the Indian ocean, ‘Mother Sri Lanka’ today (4) entered a new era of peace and prosperity, re-affirming her commitment for strengthening of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, economic development, reconciliation and peaceful co-existence.
The elegant national spectacle of the year was dignified by the presence of religious leaders of all major denominations, 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, Mr Maithripala Sirisena, 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, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, Commander of the Navy, Commander of the Air Force, Inspector General of Police, Director General of the Civil Security Department, Secretaries to Ministries, District Secretary for Colombo, Additional Secretaries, Ambassadors, Officers and a gathering of civilians.
Today’s ceremony commenced with the arrival of HE, the President and the First Lady, to be received warmly by Minister of Irrigation, Public Administration, Home Affairs and Disaster Management, Hon Chamal Rajapaksa, together with the Governor for Western Province and Secretary Defence. His motorcade's arrival with mounted Policemen and Tri-service Military Police outriders in an eye-catching glimpse was symbolized by blowing of trumpets. After paying due veneration to the seated members of the Maha Sangha, HE the President moved to his seat.
As the stage was set, General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, Commander of the Navy, Commander of the Air Force and Inspector General of the Police afterwards ushered 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 school girls from 45 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’ auspicious stanzas, presented by a bevy of school girls before observing 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 marked the magnificent and eye-catching 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 and reminded that he would always be a Sinhala Buddhist leader while attaching due and equal recognition to every religious faith. He also noted that the country’s justice should be applicable equally to all.
Soon after the Presidential 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 Priyankara Fernando, Director General General Staff of the Army Headquarters to the day's Chief Guest who received the Salute in accordance with military traditions.
A total of 5922 troops, Police, Civil Security Department, Special Task Force and National Cadet Corps participants, 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 artists, school students and others in the western province also added special elegance and glamour to the whole parade as the day’s programme drew to a close. A display of air power with Mig jets and light aircraft also symbolized the significance of the day towards the end of the day's proceedings.