At Independence Day celebrations at Kataragama:
Hard decisions vital for better future - President
The cool breeze and the early morning drizzle that prevailed for a
few minutes in the sacred city of Kataragama did not dampen the spirit
of the 63rd National Independence Day celebrations on Friday.
This is the first time Sri Lanka's National Independence day ceremony
was held in this holy city. It was President Mahinda Rajapaksa's idea to
hold such a colourful ceremony in this rural area hundreds of miles away
To witness such a magnificent ceremony was a lifetime opportunity to
thousands of people in Kataragama and in the surrounding areas.
President Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa arrived at the
ceremony in a motorcade at 8.45 a.m. and it was followed by the Mounted
Police. Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs W.D.J
.Seneviratne received the President and the First Lady, followed by the
arrival of several other distinguished invitees including Speaker Chamal
Rajapaksa, Uva Province Governor Nanda Mathew and Chief Justice Asoka de
President Rajapaksa hoisted the National Flag amidst the beating of
magul bera and blowing of conch shells.
The National Anthem was sung by 100 schoolchildren while a group of
school girls sang Jaya Mangala gathas and Devo Vassathu Kalena.
Cultural items including various upcountry and low- country dancing
were presented by schoolchildren in Kataragama and surrounding areas.
Addressing the nation, President Rajapaksa recalled the
30-year-old conflict which made people in the country suffer untold
hardships and said that only popular decisions cannot be taken to
develop the country.
"Inconvenient and difficult decisions are also necessary to brighten
the future of our children who will be tomorrow's leaders in the world,"
Massive development projects in the field of education and health
care have already been carried out by the Government for the benefit of
people, he said.
"In addition, we have commenced a countrywide road development
network, irrigation projects such as Moragahakanda, Uma Oya, Deduru Oya,
Weheragala and Rambukkan Oya, power stations at Norochcholai, Upper
Kothmale and Kerawalapitiya, a port in Hambantota to uplift the standard
of living of people, to reduce the cost-of-living and resolve the
We have also set up "Nena Sala' centres to improve computer literacy
of children and constructed international sports stadiums at Diyagama,
Suriyawewa and Pallekale.
The President reiterated the prompt action he had taken to re-instate
ownership of the national airline in our people and also introducing a
new airline - 'Mihin Lanka'.
He recounted how he resettled hundreds of thousand of displaced
people and also the construction of bridges such as Sangupitti, Kinniya,
Manampitiya, Mannar and Kattugastota.
The President recalled, how King Dutugemunu commenced his journey to
unite this Motherland with the blessings of the deity of Kataragama.
He said in addition, many of the successful freedom struggles in the
country too commenced with the blessings from the sacred land of
"Therefore, I also wish continue this journey with all communities as
well as all political parties in the country,".
Some of those who attended the Independence Day ceremony, thanked the
Government for conducting this year's ceremony at Kataragama and said
that to attend such a ceremony in the presence of the head of the State,
the Cabinet of Ministers and foreign diplomats in their own village, was
an opportunity of a life time for them and their children.
The 63rd National Independence Day ceremony was concluded with the
march past presented by the members of three Security Forces, the Police
and the Civil Security.
This was followed by cultural items presented by schoolchildren which
included the Pantheru Wannama, Kavadi Narthanaya, Wes Narthanaya, Muhunu
Narthanaya, Wedi Netuma, Deevara Narthanaya, Lee Keli and the Thuranga