Sri Lanka holds first Interfaith Music Festival in Asia to build ethnic harmony, reconciliation
1st Mar 2012 Daily FT
Mother Sri Lanka Trust in collaboration with the Art of Living Foundation launched the first Interfaith Music Festival in Asia, which was held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium.
The festival was a coming-together of 1,500 school children from over 50 schools from across the island representing the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Trincomalee, Jaffna, Puttalam, Ratnapura, Badulla, Matara, Kalutara, Kandy, etc. representing all four religions, along with 300 drummers, 200 dancers, and 50 guitarists, singing songs and chants from all religious faiths in the country.
The performers included renowned local musicians such as Edward Jayakody, Bathiya & Santhush, Charitha Priyadarshani, Jayantha Ratnayake, Samitha Mudunkotuwa, Athula Adhikari and Toni Hassan among others who joined the children to sing along.
The Mother Sri Lanka Trust is a non-profit organisation, established in November 2008 under the guidance of the President’s Office to promote patriotism and positive thinking about the country among all Sri Lankans.
As such, they have been engaging in a range of similar programs such as the Schools Dialogue Competition, which was completed successfully with the participation of three million school children, a Volunteer Program, pre-school children’s programs and the ‘Denuwara Mithouro’ program, where children from the north and south participate in camps providing them with a chance to exchange their cultural rituals and lifestyles, etc.
All these programs including the introduction of a merchandise series called the ‘Patriot Collection’ have been efforts at promoting patriotism.
Similarly, the Art of Living Foundation is an international movement working towards peace and reconciliation around the world. The two came hand in hand to organise this unique musical extravaganza with the support of the President’s Office and the Ministry of Education and the sponsorship of Tharunyata Hetak, Mobitel, Lanka Hospitals and DSI as Platinum, Gold and Silver sponsors respectively.
“When we discussed on initiating this concept with Mother Sri Lanka, our intention was to reach out to all four corners of the country and get everyone together,” said Sri Ram of the Art of Living Foundation and the Coordinating Director of the musical program.
Edward Jayakody, Director of Education (Music) of the Ministry of Education, who was involved in coordinating the event said, “We often attend Buddhist, Christian/Catholic, Hindu and Islamic rituals separately at occasions such as Vesak, Christmas and other religious and cultural gatherings. The Interfaith Music Festival 2012 was a unique opportunity to bring all this together on a single stage and promote our identity as Sri Lankans.”
“This was not just a music festival but it was about all 4 religions in the country getting together in a single event to sing Buddhist Bhakthi Gee, Christian Carols, as well as Hindu and Islamic chants, through a unique mixing of children from Jaffna to Matara.
Our objective of organizing this event is to heal the wounds of war and bring together people of all faiths under one umbrella as Sri Lankans,” said Janaki Kuruppu, Chairperson of Mother Sri Lanka, expressing her views on the event.She added that it was a timely effort to instil a sense of togetherness among all ethnic groups in Sri Lanka as the country celebrates true independence and freedom this February.
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