Over three hundred Sri Lankan Americans and their friends enjoyed a night of traditional dance and drumming for over 3 hours, on Sunday 3rd December at the Rosemead Auditorium in Rosemad, California.
Rangabhisheka 2017 was the inagural graduation ceremony of Sri Lanka Foundation Perforning Arts Center. A show to celebrate the excellence achieved by four graduating students Nethmi Fernando, Hiruni Ranawaka, Nithya Bamunuarachchi and Sonali Malasekara.
The months of intensive training leading to this graduation was spear headed by our professional instructors Lal Tilakarathna, Chathuri Wickramarachchi & Umendra Wickramarachchi. The exquisite timing and coordination, the graceful and complex movements involving the whole body, keeping time with the live drumbeats of Bheri and the exquisite costumes, were both a treat to watch and testimony to the untiring efforts of students, teachers, parents and staff.
The graduates showcased their technical knowledge with performances like the Bulath Padaya, Mangalam and Yak Anuma. All these dances were done to live drumming and they showcased on the beat, off the beat and after the beat dancing styles. Traditional drumming was on full dispalay with the drum medley showcasing students of all ages and a variety of drums. Drumming is considerd the heartbeat of the Sri Lankan people. Students played the geta bera, yak bera, davula, thammatama and flute. Little girls even twirled the rabana on sticks. This was a rare sight for us Angelenos as Raban twirling is not common millions of miles away from Sri Lanka.
The junior group of the SLF Perfroming Arts Center took everyone down memory lane with their item “Dathata Walalu” showcasing the folk dances of Sri Lanka. The little children some as young as five years old took the hearts of the audience as they showed the rich agricultural dances of Sri Lanka.
The graduating students were awarded a graduating certificate and a traditional bronze scroll of achievement. After a quick fifteen minute break everyone was taken 12,000 years back to back to the time of Maha Ravana to the time of beautiful queen Kuweni, the arrival Price Vijaya, the cultural and religious awakening after the arrival of Sangamitta theri, Princess Hemamamala and Prince Dantha. The magnificent creation of Sigiriya the kingdom of King Kashyapa to the time of brave Kappatipola Disawe who fought for his mother land and right back to modern times. Over 45 performers took part in the amazing production directed by Lal Thilakarathna. Choreography was done by Lal Thilakarathana, Chathuri Wickramarachchi and Umendra Kahadawarachchi.
The show followed a traditional Pahimpath Ceremony held at the Sri Rathana Vihara in Anaheim on Saturday, December 2nd. With the blessings of deities the dancers were given a “Pahimpatha,” an ornate traditional headpiece made of bronze. The dancer’s mother adorned them with the headdress and jewelary. Afterwards the dancers showcased their debut performance in front of their parents, family, teachers, friends and well-wishers. This is considered a rite of passage for all dancers in Sri Lanka.
Everyone acknowledged the significant contribution made by the Performing Arts Center to the cultural diversity and richness of Los Angeles. The ability to make regular & quality presentations of Sri Lankan dance through out three years, thousands of miles away from Sri Lanka is both unique and testimony to the dedication and enthusiasm of all involved with the Sri Lanka Foundation Performing Arts Center. The Performing Arts center thanked the graduates, performers, parents, sponsors and volunteers for their support to make this event a success.