INAUGURATION OF SAARC CULTURAL CENTRE IN COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
Ajeet Cour participated in the Inaugural Function of SAARC Culture Centre in Colombo on 23, 24, 25 September, 2010..
Since the idea of SAARC CULTURAL CENTRE was conceived by Ajeet Cour during the tenure of Excellency Mr. Nihal Rodrigo, the then Secretary General of SAARC Secretariat and the idea was now finally going to see the light of the day, she felt it was her ‘DHARMA’ to participate.
On 21st, a day before the Conference, Mr. Nihal Rodrigo, now Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka, hosted a Gala Lunch in her honour, in his beautiful, aesthetically brilliant house, because he has great affection for her and her work to join the hearts across the borders in the SAARC Region, ever since 2000 when he was Secretary General of SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu.
Many luminaries from among the writers and intellectuals of Sri Lanka, and those working in Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka like Ms. Mahshini Colonne, and the Director of SAARC Cultural Centre, Mr. G.L.W. Samarasinghe, and his collegue Ms. Saundarai David, were also invited.
It was the same house where he once stood outside in the street with a lantern in hand, when he was Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka, and had invited Ajeet Cour and her painter daughter Arpana Caur, though they were being brought from the hotel in Nihal’s own car.
It was a beautiful, always-to-be remembered and treasured gesture !
Nihal’s wife Chitra is a wonderful hostess, and moves around her house – her artistic creation ! – like a goddess !
It is always a delight to meet both of them !
Only Delegates from three countries could participate in the Conference organized by the SAARC Cultural Centre.
From Pakistan High Commission in Colombo, they got a brilliant girl, a diplomat : Ms. Mariam Saeed.
The Inaugural Session was attended by their gorgeous and luminously brilliant Culture Minister Hon’ble Ms. Pavithra Wanniarachchi; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon’ble Prof. Gamini Lakshman Peiris; Deputy Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Gitanjana Gunawardena; Director, SAARC Cultural Centre, Mr. G.L.W. Samarasinghe; Director SAARC, Ms. Mahishini Colonne; Mr. Yonten Dargye, Department of Culture, Bhutan; Ms. Mariam Saeed from Pakistan High Commission in Colombo; Prof. Jayasena Kottegoda, Vice Chancellor of University of the Visual and Performing Arts, Prof. Ariyarathne Kaluarachchi and others.
For two days, people presented their Papers. Mostly from Colombo itself, and all three of us.
The Pakistani diplomat gave a general power-point presentation, of photographs of life in general in Pakistan.
Mr. Samarasinghe, in his immaculate modesty, sat quietly throughout the proceedings, trying his best that the programme should succeed.
He is a wonderful man. A quite, gentle intellectual !
He left it to us to make the Action Plan.
The ACTION PLAN, finalised by us, the participants, is given below :
PLAN OF ACTION We, the representatives from Member States of the SAARC countries, having met at the Seminar on Rituals, Ethics and Societal Stability, organised by the SAARC Cultural Centre, in Colombo 2010, agree on the following:
a) That rituals and ethics that are practiced in the regional cultures bind us together.
b) That there are similarities shared among Member States.
c) That we need to maximize the effective use of rituals and ethics among Member States.
d) The importance of the role of the media in preserving the practice of rituals and ethics.
e) The role of the education system, and the need to educate the younger generation not merely on what the rituals are, but also on the knowledge/reasons behind such practices
f) That Rituals and Ethics could be also understood with reference to 3 aspects, them being entertainment, morals and religion.
g) The importance of using rituals and ethics as a tool to promote societal stability, peace and corporation among Member States.
h) That the SAARC Member States share common cultural affinities and to respect each other’s distinct religious and cultural identities.
We, the representatives of the Member States also identify that there are challenges that as a region we face in order to preserve these deep rooted rituals and ethical values.
These challenges being :
1) Impact of globalisation on culture through the non-effective portrayal of the essence of culture and rituals by the media.
2) The Educational System transmits only knowledge notwisdom, humanism and emotional development for the betterment of society.
3) Misinterpretation of rituals and ethics owing to the commercialisation of culture.
4) Endangered and deprived cultures not getting properprotection.
5) Oral traditions and intangible cultural traditions are not well documented.