Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressing his views at the vesting ceremony of the Jaffna Cultural Centre (JCC) in the people of Sri Lanka called on everyone to join hands in brotherhood to rebuild this fallen nation. The JCC was completed with funds of Rs 13,500 million provided by the Indian Government and the event was attended by the Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Dr. L. Murugan.
In his speech, the President emphasized the government’s policy of reconciliation, development, and culture, and called for all citizens to come together in brotherhood to rebuild the country. He noted the significance of the first elected leader in Sri Lanka, Ponnambalam Ramanathan, and pointed out that the country’s development could be accelerated with a combination of Sinhala and Tamil leadership.
We have decided to celebrate our 75th Independence ceremony not only in Colombo, but also in Jaffna. We will commence the program here at the Jaffna Cultural Centre (JCC), which is a gift from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On behalf of all of you, I extend my sincere thanks to the Indian Prime Minister and the Indian Government for this wonderful gift. This is one of the major events of the programs implemented by the Sri Lankan and Indian Governments.
We are also discussing economic development projects in the Northern Province, a massive development project in the Trincomalee Port, and the energy sector. Furthermore, we appreciate the support extended by the Indian Government to Sri Lanka to overcome the debt trap during this economic crisis.
The Jaffna Cultural Centre is a common center and I always maintain that the cultures of our two countries cannot be separated. Sri Lanka and India are two sides of the same coin and our shared culture should be conserved and protected. This is why the JCC is such a significant gift. I take this opportunity to thank those who participated in the performances here today.
We have chosen to hold the 75th independence in Jaffna to mark the contributions and leadership of the Tamil people in the freedom struggle. Arumuka Navalar led the Hindu Renaissance, and Ven Maha Sangha led by Ven Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera commenced the Buddhist Renaissance. Ponnambalam Ramanathan was the first leader elected by the Sri Lankans and he played a vital role in the Legislative Council. He fought alongside Harry Creasy on behalf of Sinhalese Buddhists and also founded the Lanka Jathika Sangamaya and pioneered the trade unions.
Ananda K Coomaraswamy’s book on Medieval Sinhalese Art brought Sinhalese art to the world’s attention. Arunachalam Mahadeva also worked towards the freedom of the country, and his family supported Hinduism, building Hindu Kovils in Jaffna and Sivam Kovil in Colombo. The Sri Lankan Government pays gratitude to his family and the people of Jaffna for their contributions. We also remember Vidyalingam Thureisamy and Ministers Sri Sundaraligam, C. Siththampalam, and Nallaiyah who assisted D. S. Senanayake in his struggle for freedom.
Leaders such as G.G. Ponnambalam, Chelvanayagam, and Minister M. Thiruchelvam also played a role in building the country and working together with other leaders. This is why the government has decided to celebrate the 75th Independence in Jaffna as well.
The policy of the Sri Lankan Government is based on reconciliation, development, and culture. Sri Lankan culture has been nourished by the culture in Jaffna and the Tamil culture. This culture has roots in Sri Lankan soil and has connections to Tamil Nadu and Kerala cultures as well. From the Pandya Vijayadhani kingdoms to the reign of Javakajati Chandrabahur, and king Arya Chakravarti, King Sapumal Bhuvanekabahu, and King Sangili, a great culture was created in this area, including the Nallur Kovil and a massive palace for King Sangili.
During the Dutch era, the Thesawalamei law was empowered and a new history was established in the country. During the British era, there was economic development in Jaffna, and the first newspaper was published in 1840, bringing new life to literature in Jaffna. However, the war destroyed everything, and the library was burnt.
The Jaffna Fort was destroyed, but the Dravidian art and culture have been preserved both in Jaffna and Colombo, as well as abroad by the diaspora. There has been a recent resurgence, with movies and books being written in three languages about the war, leading to the development of new forms of art and culture. Today, traditional Dravidian music can be heard, such as the song “Sinna Sinna Asei” by A.R. Rahman, and Tamils are listening to Sinhala songs like “Manike Mage Hithe.”
The Minister of Culture has been asked to organize a Jaffna Literary Festival, similar to the Galle Literary Festival, to further develop and promote the new art and culture. By doing so, the fallen country can be rebuilt and become a place for everyone. This new cultural center in Jaffna should be named the Saraswathie Mahal and will be a center for Tamil art.
Minister of Fisheries Douglas Devananda said that the current President, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has visited Jaffna twice in less than two months and has a good understanding of the problems faced by the people in the North. He has also outlined steps to be taken to solve these problems and has announced the implementation of the 13th Amendment. The President is seen as a solution to the economic crisis of 2022, and therefore, everyone should support him. The people of the North prefer to live as Sri Lankan Tamils.
Indian State Minister L. Murugan expressed delight in being present at the inauguration of the cultural center in Jaffna. The foundation stone for this center was laid during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March 2015, and its construction has now been completed. This cultural center will play a significant role in promoting cultural and artistic activities in Jaffna.
“During my recent visits to several provinces of Sri Lanka, I witnessed the support that India has given for the development of housing as well as infrastructure, education, health, and agriculture sectors. Among them are the Doreiappa Stadium and Thirukadeswaram Kovil.
In addition, when Sri Lanka faced a severe economic crisis in 2022, India provided USD 04 million in assistance.
In addition, India provided the necessary financial guarantee for the restructuring of Sri Lanka’s debt to receive financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund. It should be noted here that Prime Minister Modi has an idea to introduce a scholarship for 100 children from low-income families in the Northern Province, extending India’s assistance to Sri Lanka.
India will be celebrating 100 years of Independence in 2047. India has already planned and implemented measures in this regard. I believe Sri Lanka has done the same. We believe that the journey will go in cooperation with both our countries.”
Indian State Minister of Fisheries L. Murugan, Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Minister Vidura Wickramanayake, State Minister Kader Mastan, Members of Parliament Angajan Ramanathan, Selvam Adekkalanathan, M. A. Sumanthiran, Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Bagley, President’s Senior Adviser on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayake, Northern Province Governor Jeevan Thyagaraja, President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, Northern Province Presidential Coordinating Secretary M. Ilangovan and other officials attended this event.