SAARC Cultural Centre organized a reception at the Hilton Colombo Residencies, Sri Lanka on 8 December 2018, to celebrate the 34th Charter Day of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The Charter establishing the Association was signed on 8 December 1985 by the SAARC Heads of State or Government during their first-ever Summit meeting in Dhaka. The main objectives of the reception were to increase awareness and to renew the commitment of Governments to the SAARC process.
Mrs. Darshana Senanayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Culture graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Amongst the distinguished invitees were HE the Ambassador of Afghanistan M. Asharf Haidari, Ambassador Nihal Rodrigo, Former Secretary General of SAARC (1999-2002), Ambassador of Nepal in Sri Lanka, HE Dr. Bishwambher Pyakuryal, Mr. Niteen Subhash Yeola, First Secretary (PIC & Consular), High Commission of India for Sri Lanka, Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Waheed, Counsellor, Embassy of the Republic of the Maldives, Ms. Yasoja Gunasekara, Director General (SAARC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and officials of the Foreign Ministry, Sri Lanka, and Mr. G.L.W. Samarasinghe, Founder Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre.
The Reception included short series of speeches, a dance performance by the State dance troupe, and a presentation on the role and activities of SAARC Cultural Centre over the past eight years.
Mrs. Renuka Ekanayake, Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre in her welcome remarks highlighted that “SAARC endeavours for culture of peace, cooperation, and partnership for the collective benefit of the people of South Asia and to harness sustainable partnerships of mutual benefit”. The Message from His Excellency Amjad Hussain B Sial, Secretary General, SAARC was read out by Ms. Kishani Jayasinghe-Wijayasekara, Deputy Director-Programmes while the message from His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka was read out by Ms. Bindu Urugodawatte, Deputy Director-Research of the SAARC Cultural Centre.
Chief Guest Mrs. Darshana Senanayake in her address appreciated the role of SAARC in overall development of the region and also commended the programmes and activities of the SAARC Cultural Centre, Colombo in promoting the distinct culture of South Asia.
The event concluded with the certificate award ceremony for the winners of the SAARC Non Violence Day annual art competition organized by the SAARC Cultural Centre for the school children in Sri Lanka to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi (2 Oct), which is also observed as SAARC Non-Violence Day and International Non-Violence Day.