As an initiative to showcase Sri Lankan culture in the United States, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with Natamu School of Sri Lankan Traditional Dancein Maryland, held the Ves Mangalya, Ves Ceremony on 19 August 2023 at the Embassy premises.
Ves Mangalya is a vibrant celebration of Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage and a beautiful amalgamation of tradition, art, and spirituality. It is a momentous occasion that not only demonstrates the talent of the students but also serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of Sri Lanka’s traditional dance, which continues to thrive and enchant audiences worldwide. The ceremony is a blend of an art showcase and a graduation, symbolizing the completion of a significant chapter in the students’ journey as traditional dancers.
On the day of the Ves Mangalya celebration, a boy and four girls, adorned in their exquisite traditional costumes, underwent a ritualistic blessing of Maha Sangha, represented by Washington Buddhist Vihara, Maryland Buddhist Vihara, and Sri Sambuddhaloka Vihara in Hagerstown. Subsequent to the traditional rituals, the event commenced with the lighting of the oil lamp amidst traditional drumming, followed by the first dance performance of the event, the Mangalam Dance.
Ambassador Mahinda Samarasinghe, during his welcoming remarks, commended the Natamu School of Sri Lankan Traditional Dance for organizing a successful event and continuing the traditional dance arts in the United States. The Ambassador also mentioned that his decision to offer the Embassy premises for the event was as an encouragement for the talented young Sri Lankans who have decided to learn and nurture our own traditions despite being far away from the motherland. He expressed the hope that this successful event would be a regular occurrence in years to come where the graduating Sri Lankan-origin students will become Sri Lankan cultural ambassadors in the United States and teach Sri Lankan traditional dance to the next generation.
The ritual of worshipping parents and teachers was also performed, followed by the Bulath Padaya and Yak Anuma dance act, captivating the audience of more than 250 individuals gathered at the chancery. Veteran dancers and drummers flown from Sri Lanka and New York conducted the rituals of Kandyan dance. The traditional refreshments including freshly brewed Ceylon tea were offered to the spectators at the conclusion of the event.
The event was attended by the Sri Lankan community, many US nationals and members of the diplomatic corps. Natamu School of Sri Lankan Traditional Dance, established in 2012 under the leadership of Chathuri Wickramarachchi, who has been a beacon of cultural preservation, creating a community that fosters multicultural awareness, diversity, and inclusivity.