On November 08, 2021, a Padma Awards Investiture Ceremony was held at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi at which the President of India presented the Padma awards to the awardees for the year 2020. This ceremony could not be held earlier owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. It may be recalled that two individuals from Sri Lanka were conferred upon with the ‘Padma Shri’ in the year 2020 – Dr. Vajira Chitrasena, for her achievements in the field of Art, and Prof. Indra Dassanayake (Posthumous), for her contributions in the field of Literature and Education.
The Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the Republic Day of India on 26th January. The award seeks to recognize distinguished service or achievement in diverse fields and disciplines. While Ms. Vathsala Dassanayake Ishtaweera, daughter of Late Prof. Indra Dassanayake, travelled to India from Australia to receive the award from the President of India, in the presence of the Vice President and the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Vajira Chitrasena will be presented the award at Colombo by the High Commission of India at a future date.
The Government of India is committed to recognize individuals from diverse backgrounds who have made ‘distinguished service’ to the society through their talents and achievements. In this connection, the contributions of veteran Kandyan dance exponent and guru Vajira Chitrasena, and linguist Prof. Indra Dassanayake, a well-known professor of Hindi at the Kelaniya University, to their individual fields, are noteworthy. They have both played important roles in further strengthening the cultural relations and the bonds of friendship between the people of India and Sri Lanka.
It may be recalled that before 2020, the Government of India honoured musician and Magsaysay award winner W.D. Amaradeva by recognizing him with the ‘Padma Shri’ in the year 2002.