‘Tsunami’ bags two big awards at Bayelsa International Film Festival

Sri Lankan film director, screenwriter, and producer Somaratne Dissanayake won the award for Best Director (Tsunami).

At the same time, actress Niranjani Shanmugaraja won the award for Best Actress at the Bayelsa International Film Festival 2021.

Tsunami (Sinhala: සුනාමි) is a 2020 Sri Lankan Sinhala disaster drama film directed by Somaratne Dissanayake and produced by his wife Renuka Balasooriya for Cine Films Lanka.

It stars Niranjani Shanmugaraja and Darshan Dharmaraj in lead roles along with Himali Sayurangi and Bimal Jayakody and the Music composed by Rohana Weerasinghe.

The film is based on incidents that occurred in Sri Lanka during the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami on 26 December 2004.

In October 2020, the film has qualified to represent the competition section of the Bayelsa International Film Festival in Yonago, Nigeria.

For more information:

Video Attached!!SLF Intl, USA Showcases 2021 Sri Lanka Day, One of a Kind Virtual Event!!!!! to the Global Audience

When 2021 Sri Lanka Day celebrations began many people logged in to the SLF Platform on August 20th from all around the world and entered the lobby were simply flabbergasted to witness such a detailed creation, with the information center, the Auditorium Exhibition hall, and the Networking lounge. The entrance to the Auditorium door opens and you are lead to the roof top in a elevator which is never seen any virtual event before. It was also breathtaking to see the creation of the virtual people moving around in the lobby and in their seats in the Auditorium and Networking lounge.

The attendees had the choice of deciding which segment of their interest and was able to enjoy it from the comfort of their homes.The five hour Amazing Cultural Performances from all over the world was viewed and enjoyed by many when some of the other Attendees were visiting and chatting with Vendors in the Exhibition Hall and the networking lounge was busy with people trying to connect.

The event continued on August 21st & 22nd, with excitement building up to win quiz prizes when our amazing live mc’s promoted enthusiasm and anticipation among the attendees to stay until the very end.

The “Pageant of Lanka” was showcased to give a feel of the original Parade that is hosted on the World Famous Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena.

We appreciate our Sponsors for their contributions to support the event as well as showcasing their products. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to all the volunteers for their valuable time to assist in many different ways.

The event ended with a Big Bang by the band “Sithara” to entertain the attendees with some nice Sihala Music.

Click on the link to watch the video:

Thank You to our Media Platinum Sponsor, Start Up Derana 2021 and Rural Enterprise Network


The Rural Enterprise Network (REN) store is scheduled to be launched to both Sri Lankan and international consumers on the 21st of August 2021 online. A social enterprise that focuses on the development of rural micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by supplying them with extensive marketing support, the REN Store strives to be the future of MSMEs. Backed by a group of well-experienced professionals, REN is a social marketing organization of its kind in Sri Lanka. Since 2002, they have helped numerous aspiring entrepreneurs and producers to improve their business performance and product quality.

Spearheaded by President, Mr. Roshan Fernando, the REN Store was established with the vision of ‘Eradicating poverty in Sri Lanka through the development of rural MSME producers’. Mr. Roshan Fernando too is no stranger to the struggle of MSMEs as the most immediate Past President of SLIM. Following his successful tenure, he has an in depth understanding of the struggles of MSMEs and has taken the initiative to establish a platform across which they can trade their products. With product categories ranging from Home & Lifestyle to Personal to Food & Beverages, the REN Store facilitates accessibility to Sri Lankan Homeware, Sri Lankan Living and Sri Lankan Cuisine. The product portfolio promises to represent traditional industries suitable for today, fulfilling the tagline of “Rural freshness to urban life”.

Speaking to the President of REN, Mr. Roshan Fernando on the impact of the REN Store he commented, “The REN Store is a cause that impacts the economy and the living standards of the rural community. By providing rural MSMEs with the necessary resources inclusive of a platform via which to sell their products online, we strive to enable these MSMEs to access both local and international markets. Understanding the toils of many rural families during COVID-19, we have recognized the necessity for supporting our fellow Sri Lankans and empowering them to achieve self-sufficiency by carrying out their business online. We will continue to strive to support MSMEs and expand so as to ensure that more rural communities have access to the benefits of a common network.”

The REN Store will be launched virtually at Sri Lanka Day in Los Angeles. When the annual Sri Lanka Day was celebrated in the historic city of Pasadena in 2019, thousands of visitors watched mesmerized by a miniature Kandy Perahera with decorated elephants on rollers and traditional Sri Lankan dancers that paraded the streets of Los Angeles. That day, Sri Lanka took its rightful place among the ethnic festivals held in America. This year, Sri Lanka Day 2021 will reach millions of viewers across the globe virtually via live shows. An elaborate public celebration that will highlight historical heritage, culture, and traditions of Sri Lanka to the world, it is the ideal platform for the launch of the REN Store. All Sri Lankans across the globe are invited and encouraged to visit the website to experience and celebrate Sri Lanka while supporting an MSME producer on


Rural Enterprise Network (REN) is a social enterprise operating with the vision of ‘Eradicating poverty in Sri Lanka through the development of rural MSME producers’, a cause that impacts the economy and the living standards of the rural community. Its main tasks are developing the Rural MSMEs and supplying extensive marketing support to them.
Link to website:

REGISTER NOW!!!2021 Sri Lanka Day Expo & Parade Goes Global on a Virtual Conference Platform

Register Now:

A spectacular presentation PROMOTING Sri Lanka’s arts, crafts & Merchandise on the global stage.

LOS ANGELES — When the annual Sri Lanka Day was celebrated in the historic city of Pasadena in 2019 the thousands of visitors who filed along the historic route of the New Year’s Day Rose Parade, gasped in amazement as they watched the ‘Pageant of Lanka,’ a miniature Kandy Perahera with decorated elephants on rollers and traditional Sri Lankan dancers, parading on the streets of Los Angeles. That day, Sri Lanka took its rightful place among the ethnic festivals held in America. 

  This year, Sri Lanka Day is going worldwide. As a virtual event Sri Lanka Day 2021 will reach millions of viewers across the globe. Although virtual events are not quite like seeing an event in person, these “quarantine events” are playing a fascinating role in keeping the public arts alive while public life is in lockdown. Each live event is unique and unfiltered, revealing a side of artists that many fans do not get an opportunity to seeup close. And like viewers, artists are looking for ways to display their unique talents. Through these at-home shows, they have found a perfect opportunity to blend performance with an uplifting experience, and that is what is offered by the Sri Lanka Day Virtual Event this year. It is billed to be an elaborate public celebration intended to expose the historical heritage, culture, and traditions of Sri Lanka to the world.

Sri Lanka Day celebrations are sponsored and organized by the Sri Lanka Foundation, based in Los Angeles, California, a brainchild of Dr. Walter Jayasinghe, a leading expatriate physician and a successful entrepreneur who came to the US in the early 1960s. In 2003, he established the Foundation to promote Sri Lankan cultural activities in the US and expose the American public to the many facets of the historical heritage and culture of Sri Lanka. Since then, the Foundation has been serving a wider community of Sri Lankans in and outside of the United States, and it is now the Sri Lanka Foundation International.

The Foundation’s premiere event is the annual Sri Lanka Day celebration. This year’s global event will be held on 20, 21, and 23 August. Throughout the three days, it will feature events from around the world when the sights and sounds and the unique taste of Sri Lanka will virtually come alive. It will feature Sri Lankan traditional music, dances, art, and theatre. The audience will also be treated to a tour de force of Sri Lankan art, artifacts, fashionable clothing, jewelry, sweets, spices, food to promote indigenous products and entrepreneurs. 

Mesmerizing dance and music performances from many countries will be staged throughout the three days. Keeping the audience entranced will be the traditional Kandyan and low country dances featuring vibrant costumes and ornate jewelry; Raban Pada, Hela Gee Rangana, ‘Thaala’ Nada, and other Sri Lankan classical and popular songs accompanied by well-choreographed dances with breath-taking spin movements and pulsating drumming. The performances are to be interspersed with a cultural fashion show with Sri Lankan models showcasing Sri Lankan costumes on the catwalk.

The main event will be the Kandy Perahera, the ‘Pageant of Lanka,’ a sample of the iconic Kandy Esala Perahera featuring a procession of ceremonial musicians, drummers, dancers, singers, stilt walkers, whip crackers, flag bearers, sword carriers, ‘Sesath’ Carriers, led by elegantly dressed ‘Nilames’ and various other performers accompanied by several elaborately adorned elephants, including the casket carrier parading the streets in celebration.

Among the highlights of the event are the expert presentations on topics relating to education, business, sports, health, and fashion.

Staging the virtual Sri Lanka Day event is a gigantic task. The planning and preparation for the event began several months back with hundreds of volunteers.  The Sri Lankan embassies and Sri Lankan community organizations worldwide have been brought together to plan and support the event.

According to the organizers, the Sri Lanka Day celebrations this year will have a global audience exceeding 50.000, and the event will exceed the standards set by long-established ethnic events anywhere. It should be a matter of pride to every Sri Lankan that their countrymen can stand side by side with other nations wherever they may be.

For more information contact:
Keshini Wijegoonaratna: 
email: or 213-400-7705
Achala Weerasinghe:email: or 213-400-1662
For vendors to register online or to watch the festival go to:

Written By:
Nandasiri(Nandi) Jasentuliyana
Former Deputy Director-General, United Nations, Director, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and President Emeritus, International Institute of Space Law & Policy.

Food Drive Huge Success hosted by Church of Scientology in Los Angeles

Thank you to all of the Volunteer Ministers who came out for our food drive last Sunday: Stewart, Trevor, Dawn, Scott, Keren, Luz, Tom S., Derek, Arlene, Tom W., Andrea, Abraham, Ron, Yates & Edwin. It was a huge success, thanks to the Volunteer Ministers of Southern California!

In addition to helping over 500 families with much needed food, we also welcomed 97 interested guests into the church for a tour and 74 watched the Stay Well Presentation! Following this, 17 purchased books and one started a Life Improvement Course.

Together, we are helping the people of East Hollywood!

This coming Saturday, 3rd of July, is the next food drive from 9am – 3pm, and we need your help!

Location: Church of Scientology in Los Angeles

Address: 4810 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, Ca

Kithul is Sri Lanka’s ‘syrup with a funk.’ One entrepreneur wants to bring it to the world.

In Sri Lanka’s Kalutara District, once Chaminda Ruwankumara sees that a palm tree’s flower is mature, he prepares to climb. He tucks a knife secured in a sheath into the back of his shorts, hangs a pot from the knife’s handle, and makes his way 25 to 40 feet up a makeshift wooden ladder wrapped around the tree. Ruwankumara then cuts the flower, collects its sweet sap and climbs back down. He does this up to three times a day.

Comfort and connection: Asian chefs and celebrities share how food can draw us closer and divide us)

Next, he boils the sap over a fire for several hours, until it becomes the thick, dark syrup called pani, known also as kithul syrup, kithul treacle or simply kithul. Though the tree, a species of palm called Caryota urens (also called the fishtail palm), grows in other parts of the region, the sticky, smoky, sweet-yet-savory syrup is purely Sri Lankan. And it is Sri Lankan tappers who for generations have made the dangerous climb to retrieve the sap, while receiving less compensation than advocates say their product and work are worth.

Samantha Fore, a first-generation Sri Lankan American chef in Lexington, Ky., calls kithul “syrup with a funk. It’s that funk that makes it so versatile.” When the kithul is pure and “done right,” she says, it is characterized by a depth of flavor ranging from smoky to savory. “Otherwise, it just tastes like watered-down or sugared-up syrup.”

A tapper climbs a palm tree in Sri Lanka’s Galle District in 2020. (Courtesy of Chanchala Gunewardena)

In fact, most mass-marketed kithul is diluted with water and sugar by middlemen, collectors/resellers or buyers — not usually by tappers or farmers, explains Chanchala Gunewardena, who in 2017 founded the small-batch brand Kimbula Kithul in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s commercial capital. While several brands are available online and from South Asian stores outside Sri Lanka, they tend to be the mass-produced, cheap bottles that may only have a hint of kithul’s funk. “In Sri Lanka itself, a lot of people haven’t experienced real kithul for a while,” she says.

“After covid lockdowns, the kithul was really sugared down,” she adds, noting that some makers resorted to falsely inflating volume to avoid a loss of sales. The Asian dishes that bring our readers comfort and remind them of home With her company, Gunewardena is on a mission to prove that there is demand for well-sourced kithul, and, crucially, that it can fetch a higher price on a global market than the mass-produced brands. In addition to being vegan, pure kithul is low glycemic (and Kimbula Kithul certifiably so, by a lab in the United Kingdom), meaning glucose is released into the blood more slowly and that there is potential for kithul in the alternative-sweetener realm. Off the island, Kimbula Kithul is available in the United Kingdom and is heading soon to Australia and Singapore; as of this spring, a limited supply can be ordered via Kimbula’s website for delivery in the United States.

Complex issues adversely affecting the kithul industry abound, including land management under the Sri Lankan government; an outdated quota system that leads people to dilute the sap with sugar and water; a lack of infrastructure to accommodate such a perishable product; and the ever-growing reality of climate change’s weather extremes. (This species of palm is not currently cultivated and does not face the same environmental issues as oil palms.)

But kithul’s more immediate threat is a lack of tappers. “We’re not seeing a lot of young people go into it,” says Gunewardena. “The economic incentives have to change.”


Sap being boiled into syrup in Sri Lanka’s Matale District. (Courtesy of Chanchala Gunewardena)

The kithul trade is typically passed on down the line, with fathers teaching sons. Though it’s usually men who collect the sap, women are integral in the production and business side, and it’s very much a family-run business, Gunewardena explains in one of Kimbula Kithul’s Instagram posts. Women often handle the boiling of the sap, which must be done immediately after collection, before the sap ferments. Fermented sap, broadly called palm wine but known by many regional names, has long been enjoyed wherever palm trees grow, including parts of Africa and South Asia. In part because of this alcohol connotation in the old caste system, though, tappers were once looked down upon.

Netflix’s ‘High on the Hog’ showcases Black people’s vital contributions to American food “Overall, the esteem and the dignity of the work was not there,” says Gunewardena. “From a brand perspective, when I looked at the supermarket kithul bottles, the tapper was nowhere in the story of the product. But this whole industry relies on them, and if we don’t see them, don’t celebrate them, that’s our downfall.”

Ruwankumara, a tapper for Kimbula Kithul, has been collecting sap for about 10 years, though he didn’t begin until after his father’s death. His father didn’t teach him to tap because he thought it was too dangerous. In addition to dealing with snakes and insects, the climb itself is extremely tedious. Eight years ago Ruwankumara fell about 15 feet when his ladder broke away from the tree.

Once he and his wife had their son, Ruwankumara, now 37, started tapping again to bring in additional income, though he mainly plucks tea. (Most tappers work in another agricultural sector as well because such work is safer and more consistent.) The beginning of the year is prime time for kithul, and tappers can fetch a higher price, as it leads up to the Sinhala and Tamil new year in April, when kithul sweetens many celebratory foods.

Chanchala Gunewardena, founder of Kimbula Kithul. (Courtesy of Shashini Gamage) Amal Abeysekera, a lecturer in finance at University of Oklahoma, says that when he was growing up in Boralesgamuwa, a town on the outskirts of Colombo, “one of the most common ways I used to use it in the treacle format was to have it with curd made from buffalo’s milk.” One of his favorite things to make with kithul is pani pol. “You cook coconut in the syrup with spices like cardamom, nutmeg, that kind of thing,” he explains over a FaceTime call. “That’s a filling for different Sri Lankan desserts.” Kithul also works as a sweetener in typical western bakes, such as gingerbread cookies, cake and banana bread. “I also have made salted caramel from the kithul and made ice cream from it,” he adds. “It’s really good on ice cream.”

Ryan Chetiyawardana, a world-renowned bartender and bar owner in London, calls kithul’s deep sweetness “obviously delicious on porridge.” He also likes it in salsa, where its savory, smoky notes lift the natural sweetness of tomatoes. “You could glaze carrots with it or use it to give meat a sweet edge.” And yes, Chetiyawardana — who in early 2020 opened cocktail bar Silver Lyan in Washington, D.C. — also uses kithul in drinks, in ways that “bubble beneath the surface.” It works well in a whiskey sour, or with most any dark spirit.

But, “I think it’s more interesting in something like a martini,” he says. Indeed, just a quarter teaspoon of kithul stirred into a vodka martini (with the drinker’s preferred ratio of dry vermouth) creates a curiously savory sip, almost like a dirty martini despite its lack of olive juice.

Black barbecue gets a long-overdue spotlight in two new books Fore, who seeks to familiarize more people with Sri Lankan cooking through her pop-up restaurant Tuk Tuk, sees the syrup as nostalgic and distinct compared to other crops touched by Sri Lanka’s colonized past. “When it’s good pani, I use it to heighten desserts, add depth, an accent of sweetness,” she says. “Or I can cook it with onion, chile and tamarind and have a really good seeni sambol,” or onion chutney. Mass-produced kithul isn’t garbage, but it’s not particularly special, either. “In the same way you have industrial honeys and small honeys, it’s the same with industrial kithul,” says Chetiyawardana. One 265-milliliter bottle of Kimbula Kithul (complex, barely sweet) is $16.95, while larger brands such as MD (one-note, often sweet as caramel) go for $4 for 350 ml. It’s yet another example of paying more for quality and the knowledge that the workers behind a product are fairly compensated.

Kimbula Kithul, named for the crocodile that swims in Gunewardena’s mother’s native southern Matara District, is following in the footsteps of a few other pure kithul brands by working to get other such businesses to cooperate instead of compete. Gunewardena is sending a signal to the whole industry: Invest in the people who make this all possible by paying them what they’re worth, then increase the price at retail advertisement.

And it’s working: More small, pure kithul sellers are already popping up around Sri Lanka, and some tell her that Kimbula Kithul is the reason they got into this business. Rather than being upset that others are following her tactics, she celebrates it. “As long as they’re duplicating on quality and farmer compensation, there’s nothing bad about increased sales for tappers. It doesn’t mean I’m not ambitious, or competitive, I’m all those things,” she says. “But you can get stuck in the competition and get bogged in the drama of that, or focus on the possibilities.” “I’m in a position where I just have to get this product out there to get the support to get the infrastructure to build it,” she says. “That’s the immediate goal. Then we’ll chase the many dreams.”

By Kara Elder
Washington Post
Photos by Chanchala Gunawardhana

Help feed the Homeless by Mindfulness Meditation Center, Covina

Dear Practitioners,
Prevailing pandemic situation and the ongoing financial crisis has affected the communities in many ways. We see every where how people are going through many difficulties. Let us help the needy people and at-risk families in our own capacity.

This is a great opportunity for us to develop generosity and cultivate loving kindness with a compassionate heart

Many Words of Gratitude from the Families at the Food Drive

During these unprecedented times with many families facing financial crisis, Walter J Company, New Economics for Women, and American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)/ Labor Community Services (LCS), in collaboration with Sri Lanka Foundation, hosted a holiday food drive in an effort to reduce the food shortage to families in need during this holiday season on December 19th, 2020 from 9.00am to 12.00pm at the Walter J Company parking lot on 1930 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, Ca 90057.

Hundreds of families drove in as well as walked up to accept the food boxes with much gratitude and conveying blessings to the volunteers helping to distribute the food items.

Due to the great organization by the sponsors of this project the volunteers were able to execute the operations without any issues to the very end and shared their positive experience.