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.

Meet our New Staff! SLF Academy of Performing Arts Open Enrollment for 2021

Open Enrollment Date January 24th, 2021!!!

10.00am to 12.00pm

Meet our new staff:

Nirosha Wijegunasekera,
Following MPhil Degree, University of Peradeniya
MA in Dance, University of Kalaniya
Bachelor of Arts in Visual & Performing Arts

Lecturer at the University of the Visual and performing Arts, Sri Lanka

Akila Palipana
BA. Degree, University of Kelaniya
MA. Undergraduate, University of Kelaniya
Visiting Lecturer at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

Nalinda Vithana
Behri Foundation of Drums and Dance

Kanishka D Muhandiramge Gomas
Founding Member & Dance Instructor at Behri Foundation of Drums and Dance.

Sri Lanka Foundation Academy of Performing Arts will continue to conduct virtual sessions on Google classroom settings for Dance & Drumming in the NEW SCHOOL YEAR STARTING IN JANUARY 2021.

The school achieved its Accreditation status in 2019 from the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC) which is a world-renowned accrediting association. WASC is a voluntary dual-purpose process for schools to demonstrate that they provide high-quality learning and model continual self-improvement.

The classes consist of a well rounded curriculum to meet the needs of the Accreditation status as well as the lesson plans have been adjusted for the students to be able easily grasp the techniques online. The classes are taught by extremely qualified and experienced staff that has made a huge impact in the students learning to keep their focus on the online teaching. Quarterly assessments are conducted to monitor the progress of the student programs and its impact on student learning with respect to the ACS WASC criteria.

In 2022 the school will go through a self study program which will involve of all stakeholders during the process that will consist of a school-wide action plan to address and identify areas for improvement.

The enrollment application is available on the: and click on the Academy tab.

For more information call:
213-400-1662 or Email:
Achala Weerasinghe
Director of Cultural Affairs/SLF and Director of Operations, Academy of Performing Arts
Please click on the link below to register to join:


Hello, my name is Shihani Alexander, and I’m a 23 year old full-time college student at the University of Maryland – College Park. Although I’ve been living in the United States for the past ten years, I was born and raised in Sri Lanka. I take pride in my Sri Lankan roots and admire the traditional culture and customs that I have celebrated since my childhood. I have always wanted to do something meaningful that embraces my Sri Lankan heritage, so I created my clothing brand ​UpCeylon​ that holds a unique mission – spreading traditional Sri Lankan clothing while simultaneously supporting the Sri Lankan community.

UpCeylon​ is a U.S. based online business that carries various clothing items made in Sri Lanka. I take pride in where my garments come from and the quality in which they’re manufactured. Most of my pieces contain batik designs, a contemporary handcrafted art design. Batik is an extremely time-consuming handmade technique created with hot wax; hence each design has slight artistic variations from piece to piece.

Today, batik is a rapidly expanding industry in Sri Lanka, especially among tourists. Due to the high demand for batik across the global market, batik designs are now being printed on fabric and mass-produced in large factories. To help preserve this contemporary art, ​UpCeylon ​is closely working with small batik houses in Sri Lanka, intending to keep traditional batik art alive. This meaningful relationship provides opportunities to empower local batik artisans to showcase their skills to the western world.

UpCeylon ​carries modern batik dresses, women’s tops, men’s shirts, sarongs, and cushion covers with unique individually handcrafted cultural designs. Our garments are designed to maximize fashion as well as comfort, and we ship to anywhere in the world. Any U.S order above $50 is eligible for free shipping. ​One customer means so much to a small business like UpCeylon​, so we also have a loyalty rewards program set up on our website to reward our awesome customers. By following us on Instagram @upceylon or liking our Facebook page @upceylon, you can always stay updated on special promotions, discounts, and new arrivals.

UpCeylon​ accepts payments from PayPal, ApplePay, Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, Discover, and GooglePay. To order our products, to view prices, or to take a look at our online store:

please visit​.

For any other inquires please email us at

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

Meeting ID: 839 0132 6637
Passcode: 128404


I didn’t know much about Sri Lanka before my visit. Most of what I knew was picked up via the news and a few blog posts written by friends. Sri Lanka was a blank slate I was eager to fill in.

I found Sri Lanka to be a nation of luscious jungles, epic waterfalls, stunning hikes, Tomb Raider-esque archeological ruins, unattractive cities, and delicious food.

But the one thing that really stood out was the people.

I know, I know. What a cliché, right?!

It’s the most generic thing to say in travel. “The people in this destination were lovely and totally made the place.”

Everyone always says that.

Sure, you’ll find that some cultures really are more outgoing and friendlier to strangers than others.

But Sri Lankans stood out in a way I’ve never experienced before.

They are the first, second, third, and fourth things that come to mind when I remember my time in their country. I was amazed at how friendly, curious, and hospitable people were.

As a traveler, although you want to be open to experiences with everyone, you also have to keep a wary eye out in order to make sure you aren’t getting scammed or put in a dangerous situation. There’s a lot of “gut-checking” on the road.

Take, for example, tuk-tuk drivers. Having spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia, I’m used to dealing with tuk-tuk drivers who badger you for a ride and constantly try to rip you off or take you to shops where they receive kickbacks if you make a purchase.

In contrast, throughout Sri Lanka, I found tuk-tuk driver after tuk-tuk driver would slow down, ask if I wanted a ride, and then, when I said no, wish me a good day and drive off. No badgering! (OK, a tiny bit in Colombo, but that was mild when compared to other countries.)

Moreover, I found the tuk-tuk drivers to be honest brokers, giving me rates close to what guesthouse owners said they should be. (I never thought I would use the term “honest” and “tuk-tuk drivers” in the same sentence.)

Then there were the locals who would approach me near a tourist site or on the street. After years of travel, my initial thought when this happens is usually: “Here is yet someone else trying to sell me something.”

As they started asking me about where I was from and how I liked their country, I was expecting them to get into “the sell,” but instead was shocked that they would then just wish me well and walk away.

Is this a trick? I thought.

Nope, they were simply interested in my experience of their country. It caught me off guard the first couple of times but, after a while, I relished each opportunity to meet someone new. Each day there would be countless interactions with people just happy to engage with a traveler.

Dr. Kanagasundrem, among British-Sri Lankans recognized in Queen’s Honor List

Colombo (News 1st); Several British-Sri Lankans were among those enlisted in the Queen’s 2021 New Year honors list which recognizes the outstanding achievements of people in the United Kingdom. Dr Shikandhini Kanagasundrem, Professor Ravi Silva, Professor Mohan Edirisinghe, Professor Ramani Moonesinghe, Gajan Wallooppillai, , and Mohamed Hazrath Haleem Ossman were conferred the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) award.

Dr Shikandhini Kanagasundrem (Dr ‘Shico’ Visuvanathan), was recognized in the Queen’s 2021 New Year Honours list, for outstanding services in Microbiology and Infection Prevention & Control, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic in the U.K. She went on to specialize in Medical Microbiology at University College Hospital London, and completed her MD (Doctor of Medicine), MSc in Clinical Microbiology, and FRCPath (Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists)

With the support of the Infection Prevention and Control team, Dr Kanagasundrem has led and controlled the Hospital’s response to many infection challenges.

Speaking to News 1st, Dr Kanagasundrem said: “I am humbled and very proud to be awarded an MBE. It is a reflection of the wonderful infection prevention and control team and microbiology team I work with, and the hard work put in by clinical colleagues and senior management alike during this pandemic. I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me in my career, both colleagues past and present, and my family.”

Professor Ravi Silva, Director, from the Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey received a CBE for his outstanding services to Science, Education and Research over the last three decades, with contributions that extend around the world. Prof. Silva has conducted major research activities in China, India, Sri Lanka and the UK.

Professor Mohan Edirisinghe who was conferred the OBE holds the Bonfield Chair of Biomaterials in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University College London (UCL). Prof. Edirisinghe has been in the forefront of developing new methods to manufacture advanced materials, particularly in healthcare.

His patented technology for producing micro-bubbles and nanoparticles has enabled the manufacture of whole new drug delivery systems.

Professor Ramani Moonesinghe is Professor of Perioperative Medicine and Consultant Anaesthetist, University College London. She receives the OBE for services to Anaesthesia, Perioperative and Critical Care.

In her NHS England role, Professor Moonesinghe was the clinical lead for the national critical care response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gajan Wallooppillai, a former Conservative councillor in Richmond received the OBE for services to Equality and Community Cohesion.

A former local councillor in the Royal Borough of Kingston-Upon-Thames, he is currently a Special Advisor to the Conservative Party Chairman and the party’s International Secretary. Mohamed Hazrath Haleem Ossman received the OBE for services to the Sri Lankan community in the UK (London, Greater London). An old boy of S. Thomas College, he is an accountant by profession with businesses in the UK and Sri Lanka and an active member of the Sri Lanka Islamic (UK) Association.

The Queen’s New Years Honors List recognizes the achievements and service of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom.

Kegalle ‘COVID CURE’ remains unapproved by Medical Professionals

Written by Zulfick Farzan
11 Dec, 2020 | 9:04 PM

Colombo (News 1st); The ‘Anti-COVID-19 syrup or cure’ of Dhammika Bandara from Kegalle is yet to be clinically tested at the Wathupitiwala District Base Hospital, said its Medical Superintendent M. C. N. Bandara on Friday (11).

He said a doctor had made an observation on the syrup or cure, however, he is yet to be informed about it.

Dhammika Bandara, the creator of the ‘Anti-COVID-19 syrup or cure’ claims his product was tested at the Wathupitiwala District Base Hospital adding Medical Officer Dhammika Kumara, attached to the hospital’s Public Health Unit intervened in the process.

Dhammika Kumara says several patients at the hospital requested to obtain the ‘Anti-COVID-19 syrup or cure’ externally.

He said 140 COVID-19 infected patients were given the ‘Anti-COVID-19 syrup or cure’ and later 10 of them were subject to PCR tests and result showed all of them were cured.

Based on the result and after obtaining permission from Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, 50 patients were selected at random and they were divided into two groups, where 25 of them were given the ‘Anti-COVID-19 syrup or cure’ and the other 25 were given a separate syrup.

Dr. Dhammika Kumara said all 50 patients were subject to PCR tests and 31 samples were sent to the Maharagama Hospital and 19 were sent to the National Medical Research Institute.

However, the National Medical Research Institute has rejected the PCR tests carried out deviating due process.

According to the samples sent to the Maharagama Hospital 16 of those who consumed the ‘Anti-COVID-19 syrup or cure’ and two others who consumed the other syrup were cured of the virus.

Dhammika Kumara went on to note one patient who was given the other syrup had earlier tested negative to COVID-19.

More than 100 vaccines are in trial stages across the world to cure COVID-19, however, none have show 100% accurate results.

Therefore, it the process observed a the Wathupitiwala District Base Hospital can be accepted as the truth, the ‘Anti-COVID-19 syrup or cure’ of Dhammika Bandara will become the world’s first cure to show 100% success rate.

However, Dr. Prasad Hendawitharana, the Chair of the Government Ayurvedic Medical Officers Association said there are serious concerns surrouding Dhammika Bandara and his ‘Anti-COVID-19 syrup or cure’

An Ayurvedic product can only be produced by a doctor registered with the Ayurvedic Medical Council of Sri Lanka and under the strict supervision of a doctor attached to the AMC in a laboratory registered with the Ayurvedic Medical Council, he said.

Though one can claim one discovered a cure, there are steps that need to be followed before it is administered to patients, he added.

No one can claim they are an Ayurvedic Practitioner, simple because they present a recipe of a potion, said Dr. Prasad Hendawitharana, the Chair of the Government Ayurvedic Medical Officers Association.

On the 09th of December State Minister Sisira Jayakody claimed the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine and the Department of Ayurveda had approved for the ‘Anti-COVID-19 syrup or cure’ produced by Dhammika Bandara to be given as a food supplement to COVID-19 patients.

On the 10th of December the Commissioner of Ayurveda Chathura Kumaratunga said the ‘Anti-COVID-19 syrup or cure’ is being subject to clinical trials and the results are to be expected.

He stressed the Department of Ayurveda had not given approval for the ‘Anti-COVID-19 syrup or cure’ to be used as a food supplement.

The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Medical Association Professor Indika Karunathilake said when a medicine is produced there is a process followed in introducing it to the world.

There is no proven cure for COVID-19 anywhere in the world, he stressed.