Sri Lanka Army

Defender of the Nation

Nation Salutes Mother Lanka in Her 66th Independence Day

AS TEMPLE BELLS in Kegalle, that lies on the way to hill capital, Kandy struck the dawn of a new era of prosperity and development Tuesday (February 4th) early morning, the stage was set to herald the blue-print of development during Sri Lanka’s 66th Independence Day with pomp and pageantry amidst a sea of distinguished guests and civilians, headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The 66th National Day celebrations at Kegalle, amidst gentle breeze and cooler climes added new grandeur and solemnity as ceremonially dressed tri-service and Police personnel in their thousands lined up in the company of school students and other cultural troupes, drawn from all four corners of the island representing all ethnicities.   
With National Flags flying high all around the area, the venue offered the ideal spectacle for the occasion as the township garbed festive decorations. Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Roman Catholic and Christian observances followed respectively in four major places of worship earlier in the day before commencement of the day’s proceedings.
The main ceremony at the premises was dignified by the presence of His Excellency, the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, First Lady Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa, Prime Minister D.M Jayaratne and Mrs Jayaratne, Speaker, Governor for Sabaragamuwa Province, Ministers, Chief Justice, Tri-service Commanders, Inspector General of the Police, State Secretaries, Diplomats and a host of other distinguished dignitaries.
This year’s celebration leaves a landmark in the country’s contemporary history since it is held at a time the country is fast marching to be the ‘Wonder of Asia’ under the aegis of HE the President Rajapaksa who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
The 66th National Day celebration saw His Excellency, the President arriving at the venue, accompanied by mounted Policemen and Military Police outriders in a colorful pageant as the clock struck 8.45 a.m.
The ceremony got to a start with the arrival of HE the President, along with the First Lady Mrs Shiranthi Rajapaksa. They were warmly received by Prime Minister, Minister of Public Administration and Minster of Home Affairs.
Amidst beating of Magul Bera (auspicious drums) and blowing of conch shells as all those present rose to their feet in honour, Chief of Defence Staff, Commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force and Inspector General of the Police conducted His Excellency, the President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the main flag post where the President hoisted the National Flag and set in the official inauguration.
Recital of the National Anthem by one hundred and ten school girls from Kegalle, clad in white Lama Saris, while the National Flag flies high in the sky, filled all patriotic hearts with pride of being an independent nation with age-old and unmatched cultural traditions.
Later, three service Commanders and the Inspector General of the Police conducted the President to the special dais, opposite which twenty-five school girls recited Jayamangala Gatha to invoke blessings of the noble Triple Gem on the Nation and also the “Devo Vassatu Kalena” stanza to bless the Nation.
It was followed by observance of a two-minute silence in honour of all War Heroes who laid their lives during the noble mission of defending the freedom, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the motherland.
The next phase of the proceedings was the colorful tri-service Guard of Honour, accorded to the President, Commander-in-Chief, followed by the 21 Gun Salute to the Nation in her honour.
The next moment assumed greater significance as HE the President rose to his feet to address the Nation, in which he summed up the vision and the mission of the motherland in the future.
Then the smart parade comprising National Cadet Corps and Youth Corps, Tri-service Officers and Other ranks, Police and the Civil Defence Service in their respective ceremonials was reported by the Parade Commander, to the Chief Guest who took the salute afterwards. Thousands of troops attired in their ceremonial dresses afterwards began their march-past, giving their salute to His Excellency, the President.
Rhythmic cultural troupes, made up of well-known artistes, school students and others culminated the day’s parade.
Among distinguished invitees attending this year's Independence Day ceremonies were General Gaurav Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana, Nepal's Chief of Army Staff and his delegation currently in Sri Lanka at the invitation of Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, Commander of the Army.

Religious dignitaries, ambassadors and a massive crowd of spectators witnessed the National Day proceedings at Kegalle.