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Video Attached! Sri Lanka Foundation Academy of Performing Arts reaches the uttermost success in the celebration of the virtual ‘Avurudu’ event…

With the dawn of April month, we all are in the festive mood to celebrate one of the significant festivals in Sri Lanka; the Sinhala and Tamil New year. Annually, at SLF Academy of Performing Arts we; educate our students with rich traditions, customs, and rituals intertwined with our Sri Lankan culture and thereby promote togetherness. However, students of our academy, could not take part in the ‘Avurudu’ program and celebration in their usual countenance due to the prevailing pandemic situation.

  Yet, we premiered our virtual ‘Avurudu’ event on 14th April fabulously. This even bridged the Sri Lankan community in LA as well as the Sri Lankans in our home country miles away. The event reached its uttermost success due to the great efforts taken by the instructors and the brilliant participation of the students, and the enthusiasm grown in the hearts of the students of our academy for the celebration of the new year.

  We initiated our program with the new year greetings from the founder of the Sri Lanka Foundation, Dr. Walter Jayasinha, the ambassador of SL for the USA,H.E Ravinatha Ariyasinha, the Consul General for LA Dr. Lalith Chandrasa and the president of SLF; Dr. Dishan Jayasinha, the Director of Operations of the academy: Achala Weerasinghe. The program was ended with a thank you note from the Vice President of the SLF; Aeshea Jayasinghe.

The program epitomized the beauty of the new year under different items showcased by the students as well as the instructors, Nirosha Wijegunasekare, Akila Palipana, Nalinda Dilupama, Lal Thilakarathna, Umendra Kahandawaarachchi and Kanishka Gomas.  

Students of PreK dance class – SLF Academy of performing Arts brilliantly performed for the song ‘Erabadu Mal pipila’ to show how nature beautifully gets dressed to celebrate the new year, the cry of the cuckoos and the ‘Erabadu’ trees draped in the crimson flowers. 

  Another vibrant item was showcased by our students mingling the sounds we hear during the ‘Avurudu’ season by compiling the folk singing and playing ‘Raban padha’. The items such as ‘Eluwan kaama’ and the dances showcased with the collaboration of the students of our academy from, the child, and intermediate classes, beginner and senior class, and the senior classes interpret the unity, togetherness and the strong bond shared between the students of our academy as much as the talent resided in them. The playing of the ‘Getabera’ and ‘Daula’ and the ‘Avurudu’ dance showcased by the instructors was heart-throbbing. 

The program was organized amidst so many difficulties such as in the preparation of the costumes, rehearsals conducted virtually, and many more. Thus, special gratitude should be paid to all our students who took part in the items, the instructors who guided them, and to all others who played different roles in making the event successful. 

Please click on the link below to watch the video:

https://youtu.be/w3jqkRfM1ys

Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Santa Barbara, California

Horanage family in Santa Barbara celebrated the Bakh Maha Sinhala and Tamil New year last week Honoring the Sri Lankan traditions that we usually carry out back home.

Aruni Boteju oldest of the Horanage family hosted and prepared the beautiful Avurudhu table with a variety of Sri Lankan food for the family and used all traditional Sri Lankan table decor with Go Green concept, followed by Aurudhu rituals and customs.

“We are immigrants and our children are the first generation who were born in the United States. It is our responsibility to teach and pass our culture and traditions to the next generation, so they can pass it on to theirs”. Said Aruni Boteju. She also said “we all have our preferences and the way we live our lives, but we must always remember who we are and where we came from”.

When we celebrate and honor our customs with pride, others join and enjoy and learn about our culture. This is the beauty of diversity.

“We must be proud of who we are”.

Embassy of Sri Lanka celebrates Sinhala & Tamil New Year Sunday 18 April 2021 from 1100 EST onwards

The Embassy of Sri Lanka, in collaboration with its ‘Overseas Sri Lankans (OSL) Network’ in the USA, will celebrate Sinhala and Tamil New Year on Sunday, April 18, 2021, from 11.00 am onwards. Modeled on the “Ratawata Aurudu” programmes done connecting main cities in Sri Lanka during the New Year, the celebrations conducted via zoom/facebook to allow connecting small gatherings consistent with COVID guidelines, will be joined by members of the Sri Lanka community and Friends of Sri Lanka from cities across the USA.

Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Christian religious blessings will precede the observance of New Year customs and rituals that will re-create the sense of festivity and provide an understanding of Sri Lankan traditions and culture, especially to children who have grown up in the US, as well as to the Americans who will be joining.

The Message for the New Year from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and greetings from Ambassador to the USA Ravinatha Arysinha, Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Ambassador Dr. Mohan Peiris and Consul General in Los Angeles Dr. Lalith Chandradasa will also be featured during the webcast.

The cultural programme that will follow will showcase 25 colorful dance/musical items from children, youth groups and adults from Washington D.C and over 15 States across the US – Maryland, California, Missouri, Texas, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Washington, Florida, and Hawaii.

The Embassy invites Sri Lankans and Friends of Sri Lanka living across the US to join in these festivities organized as part of the Embassy’s outreach programme through the recently established ‘OSL Network’, which now spans all 50 States and contributes to advancing Sri Lanka’s interests through political advocacy, economic empowerment, socio-cultural engagement and several other cross cutting areas.

See Program Details:

Embassy of Sri Lanka – Washington DC
Sinhala & Tamil New Year Celebration on Sunday 18th April 2021 at 11.00 EST
onwards.

Programme:

Hoisting of the National Flag followed by the National Anthem

Lighting of the Oil Lamp

1)The most Venerable KatagasthotaUparatana NayakaThero 2)Swami Ragubathi Kurukkal 3)Mr. Seyed Rizwan Mowlana 4)Reverend Father Dilantha Arachchilage 5)H.E. the Ambassador 6)Deputy Head of Mission

Welcome Speech by H.E. the Ambassador

Religious Observances
Buddhist – by most Venerable Katagasthota Uparatana Nayaka, chief Islamic – by Seyed Rizwan Mowlana
Christian – by Rev. Father Dilantha Arachchilage
Reading the New Year Message of H.E. the President
Remarks by PRUN/ NY 

Remarks by Consul General , Los Angeles
Sinhala & Tamil New Year – Customs & Rituals
Lighting the hearth & Boiling milk
Commencement of work/ Ganu Denu
Partaking of traditional Sri Lankan sweet meats
Offering betel leaves to parents/ elders
Anointing oil

Cultural Performances

Traditional Drums performance – Maryland
Traditional Dance ‘Mangalam’ – California
Tamil Classical Dance ‘Bharathanatyam’ – Texas
Recital in English (Solo) – Maryland
New Year Celebration- Missouri
Avurudu Dance ‘Ama wilata basa’– Texas
‘Sinhala Awurudda Awilla’ – Ohio
Dancing Performance ‘Game Suwanda’ – Texas
Sri Lankan Folk Song – Georgia
Dancing Item ‘Thuranga Wannama’-Maryland
Bharatha Dance – Maryland
‘Erabadu mal pipila dakkama hari asayi’– New Jersey
Greetings – Washington DC
Dancing item ‘Sirilaka piri Awurudu Sihine’ –California
Kandyan Dance -Maryland
Sinhala Song – Massachusetts
Dancing Item ‘Sirilaka Piri Awurudu Sihine’- Illinois
Dancing item ‘Lande ukula uda’ – South Carolina
Children Item – Hawaii
Dancing Item ‘deega nogiya punchi nano’& Tamil dance – New Mexico
Avurudu Dance item – Washington
‘Kiri Ithirewa Nawa Wasare’– Maryland
Drum Performance –Maryland
Kotta Pora – Florida
Kana mutti bindeema – New York

Traditional Avurudu Games

Playing the Rabana
Pancha Keliya
Tug-of-war
Scraping Coconut
Dice Game

Conclusion.

ZOOM ID- 872 0135 2083
PASSCODE- 742949

BEYOND THE SCREEN: I felt like I just can’t sing – Adithya Weliwatta

In just one night, sixteen-year-old Adithya Weliwatta stole the hearts of a nation with her performance for the blind auditions of Voice Teens, a reality TV show that kicked off in the thick of the pandemic in 2020. Adithya has a powerful and soulful voice, which drove the four judges on the show to fight for her. At the end of her audition, while coaches Sanuka, Raini, Ashanthi and Dumal attempted to persuade the young singer to join their respective teams, one coach took the young lady off the stage to seat her along with the judges. Adithya was surrounded by four powerhouse musicians, each asking her to join their team, but Adithya chose to join Dumal Warnakulasooriya’s team.

Perhaps this was, the moment that didn’t sit well with some viewers of the show. Around the world, the Voice franchise is known for its theatrics. The camaraderie among coaches, fighting over contestants provides a slew of fun and entertainment, which continue to attract millions of audiences worldwide. But at the time, it was a relatively new format of reality TV for Sri Lankan viewers. For Adithya this would be a moment she would never forget. Along with her overnight success, came an outpouring of hatred. Social media was soon flooded with posts critical of the young girl. From her outfit to her outspoken ways, everything was judged, with only a few encouraging posts in-between.

I believe that freedom of speech, freedom of expression is everyone’s basic human right. But you have no right to peep into someone else’s personal life and attempt to breakdown someone else’s dignity. Because everyone is unique, nobody’s perfect. Of course I do have faults. I’m still 16 years old.

“It’s a great thing. But suddenly things turned out to be different. Plans changed. Because I’m still schooling and I’m still doing my O/Ls, it was not easy. One night, that’s all it took. Things changed and I still can’t believe that,” Adithya recalled.

With two loving parents and two siblings —one of whom she calls a notorious one — Adithya has braved a storm of hatred online. With her to face this storm is her family, she said. “It’s the source of strength I have. They’re always beside me through thick and thin. Even under the current circumstances they are the only people there for me,” Adithya said.



“I’m still a child,” she exclaims when asked to describe growing up with her family. And she clearly is. She shares with delight about her love for Kandyan dancing and her dreams of learning hip-hop dance. “I was actually a popular dancer, not a singer. Dancing was what I was known for. Oh and I also love skating. I love it a lot. But I couldn’t do it for the past few months,” she adds.

From an average teenager, Adithya has gone on to become a social media personality owing to her success on Voice Teens. “I don’t feel like that this is reality now. In just one day people got to know me. The comments that I got back, was a bit harsh sometimes. But sometimes good,” Adithya said. “I’m just a girl. I want to keep my family happy and be happy. That’s what matters at the end of the day. I only have them.”

Adithya clearly draws strength from her doting family. But at such a young age, her experiences can lead to mounting pressure. “My mom wanted me to do everything. In the sense, she wanted me to balance everything and be an all-rounder. She wanted me to do my studies, my curriculum and sports.

So my mind was blank when I was going for Voice Teens. It’s just that I was passionate about singing. I sang, it reached millions of people but I never thought such a thing would happen,” the teenager recalled. Going in for the Voice Teens audition was just meant to satisfy herself and her family, she said “That was it. Getting a reward for my mom is a huge thing for me because she never compliments just like that. She’d never be like — Oh, my god you sang well. When it comes to work, my mom is a bit tough because she wants the best out of me.”

From an average teenager, Adithya has gone on to become a social media personality owing to her success on Voice Teens. “I don’t feel like that this is reality now. In just one day people got to know me. The comments that I got back, was a bit harsh sometimes. But sometimes good,” Adithya said. “I’m just a girl. I want to keep my family happy and be happy. That’s what matters at the end of the day. I only have them.”

Adithya clearly draws strength from her doting family. But at such a young age, her experiences can lead to mounting pressure. “My mom wanted me to do everything. In the sense, she wanted me to balance everything and be an all-rounder. She wanted me to do my studies, my curriculum and sports.

So my mind was blank when I was going for Voice Teens. It’s just that I was passionate about singing. I sang, it reached millions of people but I never thought such a thing would happen,” the teenager recalled. Going in for the Voice Teens audition was just meant to satisfy herself and her family, she said “That was it. Getting a reward for my mom is a huge thing for me because she never compliments just like that. She’d never be like — Oh, my god you sang well. When it comes to work, my mom is a bit tough because she wants the best out of me.”

Adithya says her family chose tough love. Even though they’re not a musical or artistic family, her siblings help her out when she doesn’t get it right. “My sister guides me through everything. She’d tell me when I didn’t get a part of a song right. She’s critical. But my brother doesn’t like my songs. He’s more into other forms of music and I have no idea what that is,” Adithya laughed.

Not every step in her journey to becoming a musician has been pleasant. While attempting to launch a musical career, Adithya is also a student who felt a lot of pressure. “In the beginning it was not so. But later, with the stuff that I got, there were days I would cry so much and felt like I just can’t sing!”

But this young musician believes in the power of positivity. “In a way sometimes I believe that it’s good that it all happened because I’m much stronger now. I really have cool parents and siblings and a few cool friends who stick around me. I don’t think I need much more than that,” she said smiling.

Apart from the online hate posts, as the competition progressed, Adithya was seen pitted against another contestant from the Voice. Comparisons began to surface, with Adithya being the one to amass hate from trolls. The first thing that struck Adithya was that people are not happy for others. Do you remember the first post that really affected you, I ask. She has no memory of a single post, she said. “I actually don’t remember. Because it was that many,” she said.

“You see, it’s so easy for people to do cyber bullying. In my perspective, I believe that freedom of speech, freedom of expression is everyone’s basic human right. But you have no right to peep into someone else’s personal life and attempt to breakdown someone else’s dignity. Because everyone is unique, nobody’s perfect. Of course I do have faults. I’m still 16 years old, I’m still learning. I know till my last breath I have a lot of things to learn. But if we take the time we spend on criticism, to destroy other people’s beauty? Why always complain about what’s going on? Why don’t we try to see what’s beautiful instead,” Adithya asked. But it can be exhausting, she added.

“Sometimes I feel there’s no point because people are not civilized. If we as a society think about the other, we need to be happy for the other. That’s what I know because humanity is the most important thing. But if all of us think twice as a nation, we can actually get rid of this. I might be famous or whatever, but I just feel normal. What I want to see in people is to see their good,” she stressed.

Most of the time I cried. Throughout the Voice teens competition, for about six months, maybe… Throughout I did cry! After all this cyber bullying and everything, people started to show me sympathy. I didn’t want that. I just wanted to be me. People would blame me for being me.

Adithya is still followed by trolls who exploit her fame for cheap gains. Months have lapsed since the end of the reality show, but the negative attention she continues to receive hasn’t receded. While Adithya continues to see the good in people, her critics chose to see something else. The latest malicious posts associated with this teenager are suggestive of intimate videos, posted with doctored photos of Adithya, tagged with coarse headlines used as clickbait.

“I don’t know why they get such pleasure doing that. They do have sisters, they do have children. We need to equally respect and protect children and women because they’re precious. There’s no equality sometimes. Some people feel so much easier to take it out easier on us. The worst they can put us through is cyber-bullying. There are so many people who go through suicidal moments. We as a nation, if we rise up of course we can move forward. Everyone’s beautiful the way they are. Everyone has a unique talent. For whatever that is we need to respect everyone the same,” she commented.

Despite all the negativity, Adithya finds fuel in music. “Sometimes I feel like a tsunami is behind me. But when I get on the stage I don’t feel those negative vibes from people. I feel so free and I feel so alive. My favourite part is when people use to sing along with me. That feeling I don’t know how to explain it. I feel that,” she exclaimed with joy.

She was never angry, she explains. “Actually people are not bad. They’re good. It’s just with the influences that they have got, they have become so stubborn. Something got into their head,” Adithya shrugged. But it wasn’t always easy for her to deal with the negative attention her family got. “I felt that because of me, they’re getting a dark spot on their name. I didn’t want to embarrass my family. Of course they were sad, they never showed me that. I know they might have cried a lot because of me. But they never showed me any of that.”

Adithya’s family never discussed the slew of online hate and malicious posts. The young artist is confident that her family’s trust is all she needs. “Others’ perceptions don’t matter to me. If my mom, father and siblings know I’m doing the right thing. I don’t think I need to prove myself to anybody else. I don’t need justice from people who don’t know me.”

When things felt overwhelming, did you cry, I ask. “Most of the time I cried. Throughout the Voice Teens competition, for about six months, maybe. Throughout I did cry! After all this cyber-bullying and everything, people started to show me sympathy. I didn’t want that. I just wanted to be me. People would blame me for being me. People would be like, your Sinhala is not good. But I thought I know how to communicate and that’s what matters. There were days I cried like hell. But I got up. I took every negativity I got, as an opportunity.”

Adithya draws inspiration from Charlie Chaplin and Rowan Atkinson, determined to be herself and use every opportunity for growth. “Sometimes I was not myself then. I was scared of the public. I didn’t want to face the public. I started making changes on myself. I tried to be more of how the world wanted me to be. But then I realised, why would I do that?”

“Everything teaches you a lesson. I smile everywhere I go. Nobody cares if you’re sad. Nobody does, except your family. Chill around people and be happy. Even if you’re faking a smile people won’t know it. You can have an opinion about me, I can have an opinion about you. But that doesn’t have to be the truth.”

Adithya Weliwatta has her entire future ahead of her. But with so much to deal with, in such little time, did she ever feel afraid of her future, I ask. “Sometimes it did. I’m a normal human being. I was scared to reach my targets. I had second thoughts about what would people say. Now I don’t.”

Adithya also has some advice for her critics and those who may be struggling themselves. “Be yourself. Stop complaining. Adore everyone, love immensely. If you want to achieve something, just keep climbing. Have faith in God. At the end of the day, we all die. Just like when we go home, we just want a good nap. Life is too short, so we just got to cherish the moments. Give more, love more. If you don’t have love, just spread love. And remember that you are beautiful the way you are.”

For more information go to:http://dailymirror.lk

Video Attached! Congratulations to SLF Academy of Performing Arts Students, Welcome to the New School Year 2021!

On Sunday, January 24th the Sri Lanka Foundation Academy of Performing Arts hosted another successful webinar to preset the certificates to the students who completed the Dance & Drumming classes in 2020, and after they enrolled for the New School Year to continue the virtual lessons.

Achala Weerasinghe, the Director of Operations welcomed everyone with a brief description of the school’s future goals to expand globally on virtual classroom sessions. Shirani Stanislaus,Chief Operating Officer introduced the new lectures, Nirosha Gunasekera from the Visual and Performing Arts University in Colombo, Akila Palipana, from the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka and the new instructors, Nalinda Dilupana, from the Behri Foundation Drums & Dance and Kanishka Gomas, the founding member and dance instructor at Behri Foundation of Dance & Drums.

The program continued with speeches from the current Academy of Performing instructors, Lal Thilakaratna and Umendra Khandawarachchi, who talked about the success of the virtual sessions and showed video clips of the students performances in 2020.

The new lecturers and the two new teachers also had the opportunity to present video’s of their experience and knowledge as well as addressed the audience to say how excited they are to be a part of the Academy.

Sri Lanka Foundation Vice President, Aeshea Jayasinghe inspired everyone from her speech by highlighting areas of importance of working together as a team to achieve success. Keshini Wijegoonaratna, the Director of Project Management & Public Relations, updated the Accreditation Self Study process and explained the credibility of the ACS WASC accrediting agency.

The founder of SLF, Dr Walter Jayasinghe thanked the SLF and the Academy staff for working diligently to bring the foundation to this level and addressed areas for expansion for the future.

The program ended with Achala Weerasinghe, the Director of Operations of the Academy, with a vote of special thanks to the SLF Media Director, Chamodh Amarasinghe for all his hard work by creating the graduation ceremony on a virtual platform, and also thanked everyone for attending.

See attached link to watch the video:

https://youtu.be/ZspOsYI95-s

Video Attached! SLAASC Committee prepares to Present 73rd Independence Day Celebrations!

SLF Interviews SLAASC Committee:

https://youtu.be/LxqK2Gzer40

This is to inform you that the recorded SLAASC 73rd Sri Lanka Independence Day Anniversary Celebration will be live on Facebook and YouTube on Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 7 pm Pacific Time.
Please watch it!
For more information contact:
Shanmuganathan Vaithilingam [Shan]
Secretary
Sri Lanka America Association of Southern California.
Cell: [213] 399 8964
Email: pa2slcg.la@gmail.com
Website: https://www.slaasc.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/slaasc

See link below to watch the video:

https://youtu.be/LxqK2Gzer40

Iconic Singer/Entertainer Desmond De Silva embraces technology to keep his fans spirits up through the pandemic..

With a home studio created, Desmond has continued to entertain his fans through a series of virtual concerts. Created and coordinated by Different Marketing Agency to lift spirits up through the pandemic Desmond has reached many fans, engaging with them in his own inimitable style.

2020 was set to be a packed year for Desmond with engagements here and overseas scheduled in his calendar up to December. Phyllis & Des returned to Sydney after two successive gigs in the UK which had them away and returning just in time to beat travel restrictions.

As the pandemic spread across Europe, the first casualty gigs were the two scheduled in April in Milan & Paris over the Easter season. Flights and venues were cancelled and Des & Phyllis settled into enjoying life at home after years of constant travel.

Des jokes that he now had so much time on his hands that he had resorted to cutting the grass with a pair of scissors!

However, a constant stream of calls from fans around the world desperate for entertainment saw Different Marketing put a program of virtual concerts together which had Desmond in a Studio created at home, putting in the practice and embracing a new way of communicating and entertaining his fans.

‘These concerts are ongoing until this challenging year is out’ says Desmond with planned Christmas specials next month.

‘I am also engaged in laying tracks down for 2 new CDs and am working on a concept created by Different Marketing for an unique concert in Sri Lanka when travel permits. So the enforced travel has provided me with interesting projects that keep me occupied and in touch with my music and my fans’.

The past six years since celebrating his 50 years in music has been increasingly busy. There have been some standout highlights. The Spitfires reunited in 2015 in a “Time is Tight’ tour of Australia. It was an emotional time for the members of the band, Budrin, Hassan, Dalrene, Maxine, Sohan, Felix and Mohan and of course Desmond, got together to practice for a week before the tour. Desmond recalls the 3 weeks fondly as most of the band members were accommodated in his home. Band practice was serious sessions but then fun evenings over drinks and dinners reminiscing on the band’s hey days at Ceylinco were topped with singing and much laughter.

Another highlight was the “Together Again 2018 tour of Australia by Desmond & The Clan. Here again the band members were accommodated with Desmond & Phyllis and music, reminiscing and laughter were the order of the day. Breakfast time had everyone round the table joyously eating a variety of breakfast favourites. Desmond’s speciality was ensuring perfectly cut fresh fruit and a killer Pol Sambol which went well together with the fresh buttered bread rolls bought each day from the Bakery round the corner by Kitta who delighted in a morning stroll to the bakery.

Desmond also recalls the 2 years consecutive Dinner Dances in Nottingham UK hosted by the Dayada Sri Lanka Kidney Foundation. They were both fund raising events that exceeded expectations in guest attendance and the funds that were raised.

An unique event hosted by Suminda Ranatunge for the Sri Lankan community in Dublin, Ireland was another unexpected highlight as many guests had more than a 3 hour drive to attend the event. ‘It was very rewarding to perform to an audience that had made the effort to travel so far and who came to have a good time’ says Desmond. They were not disappointed as Des had them on the dance floor from the moment he got on stage.

Desmond celebrated a significant birthday in 2019 with a concert at the BMICH in Colombo produced by Damayantha Kuruppu. Desmond was keen to use the occasion to lift the spirits of Sri Lankan’s after the Easter Sunday Massacre. This event was special to Desmond as he had the chance to once again perform with Ishan Bahar – the person who inspired him to become a singer.

With the enforced travel restrictions in place there has also been time for quiet reflection. ‘I have had the time to think of the huge body of work I have been fortunate to own. I have had amazingly talented lyric writers who have collaborated with musicians who gave me material to work with and I have been fortunate to amass over 850 Sinhala pop and baila songs. ‘The great Wally Bastian gave me permission to sing his songs…. I felt very humbled’ says Desmond.

‘Arthur Spelderwinde and Derek Cramer were very popular in the late 50’s and 60’s. Derek was so funny and Arthur and Derek were amazingly talented and had the gift of engaging with the audience entertaining them not only in song but also with humour and repartee. They inspired me’.

The Jetliners were popular and the Coconut Grove was the place to be for the popular Sundown Dances. ‘I would watch Ishan Bahar on stage and saw how he had the audience dancing and enjoying his music. I was inspired and thought if he can do it so can I’ says Des.

‘There has been sadness during this time’ says Desmond ‘I said Goodbye to my 95 years old mother who passed away peacefully in Perth’. Due to travel restrictions he and his brother Milroy could not attend her funeral. Desmond is pleased that his mother ‘s 95th birthday celebrations in January 2020 was celebrated over 4 days and it gave the whole family quality time together to celebrate with their mother.

The shock of also having to farewell very close friend and colleague Sandra Jackson with whom he enjoyed singing duets as he says ‘our voices blended so well’. Another heartbreaking shock was the passing away of Hassan Musafer as Desmond says he considered Hassan his little brother. There are fond memories of sharing a room with him during their stint in Bombay as members of the Jetliners. ‘I class Hassan’s drumming as the next best thing to a Metronome’ says Des. We also lost the wonderfully funny and entertaining Ronnie Leitch & the very talented Randy Pieris.

All events scheduled for 2020 have been put on hold due to the restrictions in place and Desmond says that he has regular conversations with Event Organisers around the world and the word is that the party loving Sri Lankans are anxiously awaiting restrictions to be lifted and dinner dances and concerts to be held once again.

Different Marketing Agency has just launched the OFFICIAL Desmond De Silva YouTube channel and Desmond will ensure he uploads new material for the enjoyment of fans.

The world will never forget Christmas 2020. Preparation to celebrate Christmas was undertaken as spirits were dampened as families gatherings were uncertain around the globe. ‘Reaching out to Sri Lankan’s across the globe was something I wanted to do during this difficult Christmas time’ says Desmond. A series of home videos were produced with Desmond singing Christmas favourites to bring the spirit of Christmas back into hearts and homes. The many comments and phone calls received were confirmation that they were timely and well received.

NYE 2020 was extraordinary too as it was the only year Desmond had not been on a stage somewhere bringing in the New Year. This year, a special dinner shared with wife Phyllis, as they watched the Sydney fireworks display was how they welcomed 2021.

I believe we have all grown stronger in all areas of our lives and there is a hopeful promise of a great things ahead.

‘Life has certainly changed…… nothing can be taken for granted. But change brings about innovation and creativity and the entertainment industry will reinvent and thrive once again …. it’s just a matter of time’.

‘Music is the food of Life’!

Virtual Music, Dance & Drama, “Hantana Night” Organized by AAUPOC

Hanthana Night Virtual (ZOOM)
Alumni Association of the University of Peradeniya-Ottawa Chapter (AAUPOC)


Ever since the inception of the Alumni Association of University of Peradeniya-Ottawa Chapter (AAUPOC) in 2012, our premier social gathering to foster the friendship among the members and friends in the Sri Lankan Community has been the annual “Hanthana Night”. Over the past few years, we have been entertaining the participants with a rich Sri Lankan cultural and musical show at the Hanthana Night. Unfortunately, due to the prevailing restrictions for social gatherings, we haven’t been able to host our Hanthana Night in the traditional format this year. However, we are very pleased to announce that the Executive Committee with the dedicated volunteers are organizing a Hanthana Night in the virtual format (ZOOM) with an exciting lineup of performances in spite of the existing constraints.

You are cordially invited to enjoy this event at leisure at your home with your family.

Event: AAUPOC Hanthana Night Virtual
Date/Time: Saturday, 16th of January 2021; 7:00pm (Ottawa, EST); 4:00pm (PST) à onwards
5:30am 17th January (Sri Lanka)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83901326637?pwd=bFZRZEFjTWc4SnpRNGpOV2VRejZXZz09

Meeting ID: 839 0132 6637
Passcode: 128404

Buzz with Danu – Channa Wijewardena

Today on the Buzz, I have an amazing personality who has always been an institution when it comes to class, grace and talent. I have always enjoyed seeing him on stage or seeing his students keeping the craft alive. He has represented Sri Lanka on many stages and always kept our flag flying high. He sure is a gentleman who commands respect and I’m happy to have the amazing Channa on the Buzz today.

What made you make dance your career? First I was into sports and academically I was more into physics. But once I saw Dr Chitrasena on stage who looked like a marble statue, that made the change. And every job I did, I did a couple of jobs, I was attached to the Cultural Ministry and all of that had to do something with dance. I was a project officer on Performing Arts at the Education Ministry as well.

How hard would you say it is to be a dancer? It looks easy but it’s not easy. There’s so much of work- you have to align your body, you need to have flexibility, power, stretching and there are so many exercises, when I say exercises, dance exercises are totally different. Kandyan dance exercises are different, Indian dance exercises are different, hip hop is different, ballet is different etc. It’s really tough, you need to sacrifice a lot. You need to sacrifice time, the food you really like and you need to boost up your energy and so on. So it’s definitely not easy, it is a hard and tough path.

You are a lover of the entertainment industry, do you feel the youth of today understand the value of respecting this skill? Understanding the value of respecting this skill, wow… you can categorise it into two. There’s a certain lot that just go behind money. They are not worried about anything but worried about how much they get. So they are not interested in the spiritual part or anything, it’s just one frame, they get into a costume and go for it. Then the ones who value are from the creative part. They are very spiritual and they respect and understand the value of their career. There’s 60 – 40 percentage. There’s 60 who will value the art and feel the art and will work on the art.



How was school life? And what did you want to be when you were growing up? The YMCA is just next to our house and all the sports were there. And when I was in school I was into basketball, rugby, table tennis, athletics. I just wanted to be a sportsman and I had a lot of sports inspirations senior to me like Nalin de Silva, Nihal Mendis whose in New York and they were my role models and I wanted to be them. But after seeing Dr Chitrasena it just switched off and then came dance.

What do you think Sri Lankan Youth Are missing? RESPECT!!! Respect for each other, when you don’t get respect from someone you don’t respect anyone. Respect whatever you do. Respect your art, home, school, country your city everything. Well, there are two parts of mankind, there’s good and there’s bad. Bad ones are the ones who pollute and kills nature and etc. so basically, if we have less bad and more good I’m sure this will be a better place.

What has been your favourite travel destination and why? I would say Europe because there are so many countries around. The paintings, sculptures and so many beautiful places like Venice and all that. I would love to say India as well and Japan also. But first, it’s the whole of Europe, then India, then Japan.

Describe your day at work? I focus on my work on the previous day and I live with that. Early morning I starting jotting out things about what I do, and then the main thing is training my dancers. I start at around 10:30 and it will go on till 3:00 and then I take a little break maybe a small nap. Then do a couple of readings surf the internet, work more on that, then comes the television. Then I go out in the evening, come back and work more again. Oh, I forgot I also do my exercises in the morning.



Today with social media, many have become dancers and even choreographers. What are your thoughts on it? Half of what we see in social media is fake. I’ll just give you an example, you see yourself in the mirror and you expect that same visual on a photograph but remember the Mirror is a reflection and a photograph is different. So because we want the exact reflection we saw on the mirror in a photograph as well we start changing different angles and filtering it. So just like that the content they put on social media is half filtered and fake. When we take dance movements, they just copy something and they try to become popular, they try to get more views, likes and comments, but they are not artists. Artistes are full of beauty, classical, creativity and spirituality.

What kind of legacy do you want to be remembered for? Channa just Channa!

What did Covid19 teach you? It helped me to start finding myself and helped me to teach my students and everyone to find themselves because there’s so much time. They started living with themselves, having homemade food, doing everything at home, planting trees and everything became very very Sri Lankan and Sri Lankan products started coming out and I even started choreographing in different ways because it was done virtually.

Most memorable moment on stage? The ballet Karadiya. That was the dream and I think that’s a dream a lot of people dream about and it’s a wonderful ballet. So it was a day where I had to practise so much and it was under my sleeve I could do anything in Karadiya because I practised so much. So then suddenly my guru Vajira Chithrasena told me “Channa you will be playing only the last scene” I said ok, I said ok because I rehearsed and practised the full ballet altogether. So I was asked to do only the last scene which was about 10 minutes. I was not disappointed at all and I started working on the last scene because there were a lot of leaps in that scene with rain and lightning and then we fell and a song came in the end. Just before the act started Dr Chithrasena came and told me “Channa, play Sumeda’s character”. Sumeda is the main character who dies, so I had to play only that. I only had to leap around in the dark and drop dead, I didn’t even have the song to do. But still, that woke me up and that’s how it worked.



Most embarrassing moment on stage that you remember every day? Woah…. It was Kinkini Kolama. Normally during the break, dancers have their lunch and one of our drummers had his lunch and kept the leftovers in the sink. Then I was wearing a Nilame’s costume, I was one of the three Nilame’s. You normally put paper inside to make the sleeve look big in the costume. So I took the paper in the sink and went out it in and I have accidentally put the paper with all the leftover food and there were so many ants..so I was so embarrassed to be on stage because all the ants were coming down my hand and I was bitten by ants and my whole arm was swollen and you know it’s not easy to perform when you’ve been bitten by ants and you’re swollen and you know what’s happening inside the sleeve and not forgetting the bad smell. It smelled so terrible, I realised that none of the dancers came close to me during the whole ballet.

You have worked with many actors and singers, who is your favourite when it comes to their dance moves? Well, I can say it’s Sangeetha Weerarathne. She understands what dance is and she has a degree in classical ballet and she has learnt dancing under me and she is very easy to work with. She’s also very creative and she helps me a lot in my creations.

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