Sri Lanka Army

Defender of the Nation

04th February 2022 15:30:52 Hours

Dignified 74th National Independence Day Celebrations Marked with Grandeur

Friday morning's elegant spectacle, the 74th National Independence Day ceremony of the motherland under the theme, ‘' Abhiyoga Jayagath Asirimath Heta Dinak Sawubhagyamath Mawubimak” (An affluent tomorrow and prosperous motherland with challenges overcome) at Independence Square, headed by HE the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, along with Hon Prime Minister and a host of distinguished religious, diplomatic, Ministerial, defence, state and civil dignitaries and invitees mirrored the determined commitment of all Sri Lankans to march forward in Sri Lanka's quest for prosperity, peace, reconciliation and long-lasting stability.

The arrival of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his simple, yet charming attire, together with the First Lady, Mrs Ioma Rajapaksa, signalled the onset of the day’s programme seconds after Hon Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his spouse, Mrs Shiranthi Rajapaksa reached there. Former President Hon. Maithreepala Sirisena Speaker, Chief Justice, Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs, Governor for Western Province, Chief Minister for Western Province, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Secretaries of Ministries, Chief of Defence Staff and Army Commander, Navy and Air Force Commanders, Inspector General of the Police, Diplomats and a host of other distinguished invitees reached there in succession as the clock struck 07. 56 this morning (4).

This year’s celebration leaves a landmark in the country’s post-independence era as it had all the hallmarks of dignity with simplicity, brevity and colourfulness, irrespective of a string of challenges and setbacks, posed to the Nation's forward-march amidst health risks of COVID 19 and varying multifaceted global constraints.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the First Lady were warmly received by the Prime Minister, Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs. His arrival at the venue, accompanied by Military Police outriders and mounted Policemen in a colourful pageant was heralded by blowing of trumpets.

Seconds after that, General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, Commander of the Navy, Commander of the Air Force and the Inspector General of Police ushered the day's Chief Guest, 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 as 45 school girls and boys from schools in the province, sang the national anthem, filling all patriotic hearts with pride of being an independent nation, rich with age-old, unmatched and diverse cultural ethos.

Afterwards, 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 girls. It was followed by observance of a two-minute silence in memory of all the patriots and War Heroes who had laid their lives for the noble cause of defending the territorial integrity of 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 in his honour by the Sri Lanka Artillery Regiment. It was time for the much-awaited President’s address to the nation. (See President's Speech in News Highlights).

Soon after his address, the smart parade, comprised of Tri-service Officers and Other Ranks, Police, STF and Civil Security Department personnel, National Cadet Corps members, physically-disabled War Heroes both retired and still serving in their respective ceremonials, commanded by Major General Sujeewa Senarath Yapa of the Sri Lanka Army, was reported by the Parade Commander to the Chief Guest who afterwards took the salute in accordance with military traditions.

The day's military section of the parade, including hardware columns of Army, Navy and Air Force vehicles, some of which are famed for amphibious operations, then rolled down the boulevard of iconic Independence Square.

The Sri Lanka Army which has received plaudits for its tremendous and unique contribution to the spheres of electrical and mechanical engineering (SLEME), organic fertilizer production process as advised by HE the President, committment to the control of the pandemic, etc in the most recent past, demonstrated to the day's gathering that it remains the most sought service-provider to the Nation and her progress. The debut of the new Unicorb vehicle in the parade as well as many other newest heavy vehicles of the Army, most of which under the close supervision of the Army Chief, have been locally manufactured at the Army workshop, saving a large chunk of foreign exchange to the country. So did the recently raised Agriculture Brigade as conceptualized by HE the President who are now at the forefront of driving the green agriculture national drive while simultaneously entering into mass scale cultivations across the country.

The SLEME -manufactured series of other new vehicles, inclusive of Uni Buffel Mark II, Uni Avalon Vehicle and Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Vehicle (MRAP) 'Unicorb' were also a showpiece for the occasion. Up next, a display of airpower with Mig jets, staged by airmen of the Air Force and light aircraft also symbolized the significance of the day towards the end of the day’s proceedings.

Restricted to the bio bubble practice, a total of 6500 troops, including Police, STF and Civil Security Department personnel, attired in their ceremonial dresses afterwards began the march-past, presenting their salute to the President, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In addition, school students and members of the National Cadet Corps also coloured the main segment of the parade.

Amidst reverberating melodic beats, rhythmic cultural troupes, made up of well-known 431 artistes, school students in Colombo District and others, presenting their artistic talents added variety to the parade displaying cultural diversity and their own ethnic roots in respective provinces as the day’s spectacle wended its way. Due to health reasons, only a limited crowd of spectators witnessed the National Independence Day proceedings live but all TV stations transmitted their live telecasts to all corners of the island.Sharp at 12.00 noon Sri Lanka Navy saluted the Nation with 25 rounds of gun salute near the LightHouse at Chaitya road.

To coincide with the day's significance, Mayoress of Colombo Mrs Rosy Senanayake, prior to the main ceremony, placed floral wreaths and paid tribute to Rt Hon D.S Senanayake statue at the Independence Square who has been recognized and respected as the ‘Father of the Nation’. The series of National Independence Day ceremonies commenced on Thursday (2) with an overnight 'Pirith' chanting ceremony held at the Independence Square, Colombo 7, followed by Heel Dana, the following morning.

On Independence Day (4) Buddhist religious observances, Hindu religious rituals, Islamic prayers, Catholic and Christian services took place at respective sacred places in Colombo.