As I put down my shovel after partially digging the front stoop out from under three feet of snow I realize that I am a long way from Sri Lanka. But regardless, I stopped to remember that this day (in addition to being Bob Marley’s birthday), is indeed the 62nd anniversary of our independence from Britain in 1948, ending some 500 odd years of colonial rule. Sri Lankans are luckier than most, however. We have always managed to preserve our culture as well as a language, Sinhalese, which is spoken no where else on the planet. At the same time, we represent a multi-cultural haven where different groups—Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian—have co-existed peacefully. Recently, we have shown tremendous resiliency in the face of the utter devastation of the 2004 tsunami as well as fortitude and resolve in finally defeating the terrorist scourge that has plagued the island in the form of the Tamil Tigers. There is a tremendous opportunity at hand, and I hope that the people of Sri Lanka and their newly elected president Mahinda Rajapakse, seize it. For the world is watching right now, and we can show them a thing or two. We can teach them about tolerance for others and a respect for differences and how a nation can come together after disaster and war; heal old wounds; and take steps towards a brighter future together. If anything, that’s what independence day means to me.
So instead of doing a usual post about food, I wanted to share some of these videos I made about some of Sri Lanka’s other cultural treasures. Enjoy!