SAARC Exhibition of Paintings

The SAARC Cultural Centre will be holding the SAARC Exhibition of Paintings in collaboration with the University of the Visual and Performing Arts from 3rd July 2017 to 9th July 2017 at the University Premises.  The exhibition will be open to the public from 10am to 8pm.  All are welcome.

SAARC Exhibition of Paintings

Venue: University of the Visual & Performing Arts, No. 21, Albert Crescent, Colombo 07.
Dates: 3rd to 9th July 2017.
Time: 10am to 8pm
Admission: Free

SAARC RESEARCH PROJECT ON BUDDHIST CULTURAL TRAILS: Journey Through Time & Space, of Merchants, Monks and Pilgrims

26th – 27th August 2017, Sri Lanka.

Call For Papers (CFP)
Selection of Abstracts and informing Participants – 25th July 2017


The SAARC Region is bound together through the shared cultural traits which have evolved through the centuries.  Buddhism is one of the shared cultural characteristics in the region, with art and architecture portraying “unity within diversity” as seen in the evolving styles and the embracing of new characteristics through the ages.  This diversity was a result of interactions that took place along the trading routes criss-crossing east and west Asia, South and Central Asia, along with the exchange of merchandise, knowledge, concepts, designs, religions, technology and other sundry of objects and ideas were also exchanged.  It is the transfer of ideas which resulted in Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and other religious beliefs as well as art and architecture associated with these different ideologies.  The circulation of knowledge through these routes is best reflected in the use of Brahmi and Kharosthi scripts in South Asia and beyond to Central Asia.  Although the ancient trade routes have long been abandoned the legacy of those who travelled these routes can be found in the disseminated knowledge, ideas, religions and the diffusion of culture which still persists.  These routes can be aptly named “Cultural Trails”.

The “Cultural Trails” display the material culture (Tangible Heritage) of our ancestors, their beliefs and ideologies, their life and culture.  The Buddhist Cultural Trails (BCT) will be the first in a series of research fora which aim at strengthening cultural ties in the region through a walk into the shared past of our ancestors, empowering us to work together as the custodians of a shared heritage.  This will be an opportunity for the SAARC countries to revive a dialogue about inherited space through time.  A dialogue which will address the issues of conserving and preserving the Cultural Trails on one hand and how we can utilize this space to better understand of our past, to enhance our present and to be economically sustainable through tourism in the future.


There are many routes which are a part of Cultural Trails linking South Asia internally and externally.  There are the routes pilgrims took to visit the important Buddhist sites associated with Sakyamuni Buddha, routes taken by monks in search of Buddhist texts and information, as well as the construction of Buddhist temples due to the prosperity of trade routes, etc.  There are many yet to be identified Buddhist Cultural Trails within Member States.

  1. The paths of the Buddha – India & Nepal
  2. Sites of Relics of the Buddha – Nepal & India
  3. The way of Arahat Mahinda –India & Sri Lanka.
  4. The path of Theri Sanghamitta – India & Sri Lanka.
  5. The Fa Xian (Fa Hsien) Route – P.R. of China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, & Sri Lanka.
  6. The Xuanzang (Hsuan Tsang) Route – P.R. of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, frontiers of Persia and Uzbekistan.
  7. The Cave Caravan Routes of the Western Ghats –India.
  8. The pilgrimage route of King Nissankamalla to Sri Pada (Sacred Footprint) –Sri Lanka.
  9. Sixteen sacred places of Sri Lanka –Sri Lanka.
  10. Footsteps of Guru Rimpoche – Bhutan.
  11. Buddhist Cultural Trails – Maldives
  12. Buddhist Cultural Trails – Bangladesh
  13. Traditional Centres of learning – Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka.
  14. Buddhist Manuscript Trails –Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kuche, P.R. of China.
  15. New Buddhist Cultural Trails for Tourism promotion and pilgrims – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Please refer to Annexure 1 for a detailed list of BCT locations.


The participants for the Research Seminar will be selected from amongst diverse disciplines among Academics and Policy Makers.  Priority will be given to mid to senior level professionals involved in heritage management, policy makers and persons associated with the World Heritage Sites in the Region.

Academics and Scholars will include but not limited to:

  • Archaeologists,
  • Art Historians,
  • Conservators,
  • Curators
  • Museologists,
  • Anthropologists,
  • Sociologists,
  • Heritage Site Managers,
  • Persons working with national and local authorities with experience in the fields of Conservation, Preservation,
  • Tangible and Intangible Heritage Experts,
  • Ancient Trade and Technology Experts and
  • Managers, planners and staff of heritage sites.

Policy Makers will include but not limited to:

  • Ministries of Culture (Culture & Information, Cultural Affairs, etc.)
  • Ministries of Education (Education, Higher Education, etc.)
  • Ministries of Tourism (Tourism, Art and Culture, etc.)
  • Departments of Culture
  • Departments of Archaeology, Archaeological Surveys, etc.
  • Departments of Museums


3.1    Themes for the Research Seminar

  1. Buddhist Cultural Trails – The paths of the Buddha, Sites of Relics of the Buddha, The way of Arahat Mahinda, The path of Theri Sanghamitta, The Fa Xian (Fa Hsien) Route, The Xuanzang (Hsuan Tsang) Route, The Cave Caravan Routes of the Western Ghats, The pilgrimage route of King Nissankamalla to Sri Pada (Sacred Footprint), Sixteen sacred places of Sri Lanka, Footsteps of Guru Rimpoche, Buddhist Cultural Trails in Maldives, Buddhist Cultural Trails in Bangladesh, Centres of learning, New Buddhist Cultural Trails for Tourism promotion and pilgrims, Buddhist Manuscript Trails, etc.  (Refer to Annexure 1 for Details)
  2. Art and Architecture of BCT.
  3. Archaeology of BCT.
  4. Intangible Heritage of BCT (Music, dance, folk art, folk stories, traditional healing, handicrafts, etc.)
  5. Trade and Commerce of BCT.
  6. Buddhist Manuscripts, texts and inscriptions, languages and scripts (Gandhari, Prakrit, Sanskrit, etc., languages and Brahmi, Kharosthi, Greek Bactrian, etc. scripts) of BCT.
  7. Technology of BCT (Irrigation, engineering, agriculture, etc.)
  8. Cultural Diffusion
  9. Heritage Management of BCT sites
  10. Tourism promotion of BCT

3.2    Dates and Venues
26th August 2017 – Research Seminar Day 1 (Colombo)
27th August 2017 – Research Seminar Day 2 (Colombo)
28th August 2017 – One Day Post Seminar Tour to Dambulla World Heritage Site and Arankele Meditation Monastery


4.1 Official Nominees from the Member States
The Official Nominees will be selected by the respective Member States.

4.2 Accompanying Persons
Accompanying Persons of the Official Nominees of the SAARC Member States will pay a Registration Fee as described in 3.4 of this document.

4.3 Other Participants
Category A – The SAARC Cultural Centre would also accept the participation of other Experts from the Member States (other than the Official Nominees of the respective SAARC Member States).  Air Travel and Seminar Registration fee to be borne by the participant and SCC will provide accommodation at a subsidized rate, Seminar kit and the cultural tour.

Category B – Participants from Member States who are residing outside the SAARC Region, provided they can meet their travel and accommodation expenses to attend the seminar and pay the registration fee.  However, to facilitate their stay during the Seminar, the SAARC Cultural Centre would assist them in securing accommodation in Guest Houses / Hostels at economic / subsidized rates.  These participants will be provided with the Seminar kit and the cultural tour.

Category C – Participants from the Host Country where the Seminar is held can participate provided they can pay the Registration Fee of the Seminar.

  • Other Participants (Category C) from the Host country will not be provided with accommodation.

The Seminar facilities (delegate kit, tea, working lunch) as well as invitations to special events and the field trip would be extended to all registered participants and the accompanying persons.

4.4    Registration Fees
Official Nominees of the SAARC Member States:      Free of Charge
Accompanying persons of the Official Nominees:     US $ 300/=
Other Participants
Category A:      US $ 50/=
Category B:      US $ 100/=
Category C:      LKR 2,500/=

All payments are to be made in favour of the SAARC Cultural Centre, Colombo, either through e-payment OR in cash at the Registration Counter at the Seminar.

For E-payment
Name on Bank Account:        SAARC Cultural Centre
Name of Bank:                         Bank of Ceylon
Address:                                    Independence Square Branch, Colombo 07, Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan Rupee A/c:            0009773920
US $ A/c:                                   9825298
SWIFT Code:                            BCEYLKLX

4.5 Important Information

  • The Language of the Seminar will be English.
  • The SAARC Cultural Centre reserves the right to select the Other Participants for the Seminar.
  • All Other Participants (Category A) should submit their Abstract Submission Forms, Registration Forms and other information through the respective Foreign Ministries of their country to the SAARC Secretariat.
  • The last date for sending the Official Nominations / Other Participants is 30th June 2017.

4.6 Application Process
All Participants should include:

  1. Full Name and Affiliation of the Person and other details requested in the Registration Form attached herewith.  (Registration Form – Annexure 2)
  2. Detailed CV of the participant.
  3. Scanned Copy of Passport
  4. An Abstract (c. 300 words) of the proposed paper / presentations.  The Abstract should be submitted in the Country Submission Form attached herewith.  (Format for the Submission of Country Papers/ Abstracts – Annexure 3)

The participants are requested to submit their full papers before the Seminar if possible and make a short presentation at the Seminar.

4.7 Format for Submission of Country Papers / Abstracts
The Format for the Submission of Country Papers are attached as a separate document (Annexure 3).

4.8 Time Schedule for the Seminar Paper Submissions
Call for Papers, Poster Presentations                                               24th May 2017
Deadline for accepting Nominees & Participants                           30th June 2017
Selection of Abstracts & informing participants                             25th July 2017
If submitting full papers to be published before the seminar       31st July 2017
Seminar                                                                                                  26th – 27th August 2017
Cultural Tour                                                                                          28th August 2017

SAARC Film Festival 2017

Since its inception in 2011, the SAARC Film Festival has been held in Sri Lanka, and with every year, has gained a reputation for promoting and featuring some of the best films from the SAARC Region.  The SAARC Cultural Centre (SCC), in keeping with its mandate of promoting culture in the region through different modes of art, will once again showcase films from the Region as expressions of culture at its forthcoming SAARC Film Festival.  This Film Festival is different from other Film Festivals, as the SAARC Member States nominate some of their art work which showcases the cinematic imagination of the SAARC Region, using the medium of Film.  A reputed panel of international judges select the best films, and several awards are presented as an incentive to continue producing quality, thought provoking and representational films for the Region.

It is an event unique to the Region and one that has caused interest and excitement amongst the people of South Asia since 2011. We now want to take it to the world, through the portal of South Asia specifically, and build it into a truly magnificent and international festival experience.  This year in 2017, the Festival hopes to expand further, with workshops and parallel events that would enhance South Asian Cinema even more. The message of tolerance and the power of film is easily experienced through the screen with every Member State given the opportunity to screen and showcase some of their best creations and form a vibrant collage and tapestry of meaningful films from the Region. The Film Festival will focus on films first screened after May 2015, from all Member States, inviting directors of these movies to partake in workshops conducted to encourage and improve future productions.

We warmly invite you to join us as we explore the world of Film and Cinema indigenous to the SAARC Region.  Please send in your nominations and benefit from the exposure this magnificent event will bring to the industry, artists, vision and creativity of the directors and movie makers of each valued Member State. Most importantly, be present as we showcase a very special part of culture and art within our varying and wonderfully diverse Member States.

SAARC Artists Camp 2017 Nepal

The SAARC Artist Camp was held from 28th to 31st July at the Gokarna Forest Resort in Kathmandu, Nepal.  It was held quite successfully with the participation of artists from 7 Member States.

The SAARC Cultural Centre Artists Camp created space for artists from the Member States to gather together and put forward their creative expressions on canvass and share techniques and knowledge through the language of art.  The Artists had an opportunity to mingle and create over a period of four days on site, and the creations were exhibited on the final day of the Artist Camp.  The atmosphere of interaction and friendship, cultural connectivity and cultural exchange during the Camp will contributed towards establishing long lasting partnerships in art.  The cache of being recognized within the region will increase as these paintings will be exhibited at various events.

International Women’s Day 2017

The SAARC Cultural Centre will be celebrating International Women’s Day with an evening of cultural performance by Thuuryaa, a young all female drumming ensemble from the University of Visual and Performing Arts and honouring several iconic Sri Lankan female Artistes on 08th March 2017 at the Lionel Wendt Theatre, Colombo 07 at 7.00p.m.

Sri Lanka’s first and only female Executive President, Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and iconic and beloved Sri Lankan artists Iranganie Serasinghe, Vajira Chitrasena, Sumithra Peiris, Nanda Malini and Mary Anne David will be honoured at this celebration. These distinguished pioneers, have paved the way for future generations of women with their persistence, versatility, hard work, courage, integrity and continue to share their knowledge with grace.  They have widened the landscape of possibilities and given young girls the hope and power to dream without boundaries. It is our privilege to honour them.

The art of percussion has traditionally belonged to the domain of men. Thuuryaa brings a feminine touch and a definitive beat without boundaries, changing the face of drumming.  Embracing rhythm, creating & mixing art, their quest began within the walls of the University of the Visual and Performance Arts in Colombo, with nine talented under-graduate souls, created by Sithara, the first female percussion graduate of the University.  Embracing the essences of Kandyan, Low country & Sabaragamuwa – the tri-tradition of the Sri Lankan percussion art, they mix international percussion music to their presentation. The inspirational and innovative efforts of Thuuryaa, creates an entertaining and unique cultural performance.

This is an evening of honour, entertainment and celebration not to be missed.

Admission by Invitation Only.
Please contact Mahinda (0771053008), Yenuka (0112584451 ext 114) or Shanthini (0112584451) at the SAARC Cultural Centre for an invitation.
The programme will end at 9pm.


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SAARC Cultural Capital – Bangladesh – 2017

The SAARC Cultural Capital for 2016, will be a city in Bangladesh, namely Mahasthangargh, in Bogra. On the 21st of January 2017, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh will formally inaugurate, the SAARC Cultural Capital for the year 2017.

The SAARC Cultural Centre launched a programme for designating a city amongst the SAARC Member countries as the SAARC Cultural Capital for a year during which a series of year-long cultural events with a national but with an overall South Asian dimension will be organized. Last year the SAARC Cultural Capital was Bamyan, in Afghanistan. Preparing for being a SAARC CULTURAL CAPTIAL can provide an opportunity for the city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help in fostering urban regeneration, boosting the city’s image and raising its visibility and profile on a regional and international scale.

SAARC Children’s Art Competition – to commemorate Non Violence Day

The SAARC Children’s Art Competition was held in Sri Lanka, reaching out to all schools in the island. The themes given were :

Junior Category :  “You must be the change you want to see in the world” Mahatma Gandhi ( Junior Category)

Senior  Category: “My religion is based on truth and non violence. Truth is my God, Non Violence is the means of realizing him” Mahatma Gandhi  (Senior Category)

Over 990 paintings were received and three winners were picked per category. The winners are:

Senior Category

1st Place
Waththe Vidanalage Nimesh Milinda Premasiri Daluwaththa
MO/ Medagama National School

2nd Place
Tharushi Kaveesha Manawage
R/Gankanda Centar College

3rd Place
Hewagamage Dinushanka Chandimal Wijesinghe
MO/ Medagama National School

Honorable Mentions
Mohammed Raza
Readway INTL Collage

Gane Arachchilage Hashini Prabodha
R/Gankanda Central Collage

Varathalingam Kajeepan
J/Manipay Hindu Collage

Husain Fathima Kasiya
Strisammanthurai Muslim M.M

Balasuriyalage Himashi Amanda Kulawansha
R/ Gankanda Central Collage

W.M.S.K.G Mayuri Rasangi
AM/ Dehiattakandiya M.M.V


Junior Category

1st Place
Ramika Pooja Sooriyaarchchi
R/Sivali Central College

2nd Place
Samarasinghe Thanasha Dinithi Manawage
Ferguson High School

3rd Place
Jayasundara Namal Wishwa Bandara
President’s College


Honorable Mentions
Rahma Ameer
Muslim Ladies Collage

Fathima Suha Mohamod Ziard
Muslim Ladies Collage

E.S.W Yoshan
Sussex Collage

Amarasinghage Hansana Ravisara
K/ Kalawana National School

Fathima Ruzna Ismath
Muslim Ladies Collage

Lioyd Frank
Readway International

Bentotage Oshitha Sehan
ST. Michael’s Collage

Sanuji Chamathkara Dasanayake
Royal Institute International School

Sanuji Chamathkara Dasanayake
Royal International School

Fathima Zahara Sadath
Readway International

The award ceremony will take place at the SAARC Charter Day Celebrations, which will take place on the 8th of December 2016.

SAARC Literary Festival in collaboration with the Galle Literary Festival 2017

Known as home to many of the world’s best epics, stories and poems, South Asia is a region with a unique literary tradition. The region shares a common literary tradition that has developed over the years – scattered times and spaces. Ranging from oral histories to epic poems, the South Asian poetry tradition offers a rich and pulsating experience of  unique South Asianess.
The delight and influence of South Asian Literature as a catalyst that brings together diverse cultures within the region reflects a cultural confluence unsurpassed by any other region of the world. This rich and vibrant mingling needs to be appreciated and celebrated by giving due recognition to indigenous cultures and styles represented by the region so as to celebrate unity in diversity and to preserve splendid South Asian expressions that are a fundamental part of the region’s cultural ethos.

Within the period of the last two decades, we have experienced that some of the South Asian writers who write in English have won many prestigious literary awards especially from Western Countries. The SAARC Cultural Centre has organized Literary Festivals over the last five years, but it would now like to broaden its horizons and take it forward, so that not only do we celebrate writers and literature in the region, but showcase the immense talent and wealth of knowledge we have in the field of Literature to the rest of the world. The SAARC Cultural Centre proposes to collaborate and work with the  Galle Literary Festival for the benefit of poets, fiction writers and other writers of the region, which will in turn promote South Asian Literature as well as enable writers/ authors to review new trends and emerging new areas in the regional and international arena of literature.

The SAARC Cultural Centre would like to invite authors and poets from the SAARC Region to be a part of a SAARC Forum and to participate at the Galle Literary Festival which is now a well renowned and established Literary Festival in Sri Lanka. The Festival will be an open forum for writers and poets and poetry critics to discuss, debate, and analyze poetry in South Asia and to indulge in exploring its unique cultural tapestry.

The Festival
The SAARC Cultural Centre calls upon at least 3 writers/ or poets from all SAARC Member States to be a part of the SAARC Literary Forum at the Galle Literary Festival which will take place from the 11th – 15th of January 2017.  At the forum, the SAARC Writers will be able to recite their poetry or explain/discuss their book to the audience. The nominees will also participate at the many other activities planned for the Galle Literature Festival. This Festival will provide a platform to the poets, writers, literary critics, publishers and literary enthusiasts in the region to share their thoughts, insights, voice their concerns and learn from the experts of South Asian Literature. It will also hold poetry reading sessions.

Dates And Venue
The Galle Literary Festival will be held in Galle, Sri Lanka from the 11th – 15th of January 2017. The SAARC Component of the Festival will take place from the 13th -15th of January 2016

Participation At The Festival

Official Nominees From The Member States:
The SAARC Cultural Centre invites all the Member States to send a minimum of THREE Poets or Authors

Official nominations have to be sent via the Ministry of concerned, through the Foreign/ External Affairs Ministry to SAARC Secretariat. An advance copy of the nomination may be forwarded to the SAARC Cultural Centre.

Last Date
The last date for sending in the nominations is 10 December 2016

The language for the Festival would be English.

Logistic Support
The SAARC Cultural Centre would provide local hospitality (hotel accommodation on full-board basis) and local transport to all nominees of the SAARC Member States.
The airfare of the nominees of the SAARC Member States is to be borne by the respective Member State.

Development of Cultural Industries – Handicrafts

17th – 20th November 2016
Colombo – Sri Lanka
Organized by the SAARC Cultural Centre in collaboration with the National Craft Council

  • SAARC Handicraft Village
  • Design Workshop

In 2012, the SAARC Cultural Centre, focused on Traditional Handloom with an Exhibition and Design Workshop titled, “The Wheel of Life” Delhi 2012. At the Handloom Exhibition, the Centre promoted Traditional Handloom Industries of the region, by giving weavers an opportunity to exhibit their products as well as meet with potential buyers and exporters. A workshop on current trends was also organized.  With similar objectives in mind, and with an aim to promote local handicrafts, also in terms of social regeneration and social cohesion through the Handicraft Industry, the SAARC Cultural Centre, also conducted a similar programme in Bangladesh, and Nepal with the focus being on Handicrafts.  Given the success of these programmes, the centre will once again promote Handicrafts in the region, and with the aim of  developing new designs and products attractive to the demands of the new world market.  Lying at crossroads between the arts, business and technology, the creative industries sector comprises a large variety of creative fields, from those heavily industrialized such as advertising and marketing, broadcasting, film industries etc, to less industrialized – like cultural industries. This sector is increasingly important for the benefit of the people of the region, from an economic point of view, and the SAARC Member States are yet to realize its full potential. The Handicraft Exhibition and Workshops will take place in November in collaboration with the National Craft Council.

SAARC Non- Violence Day 2016

To commemorate SAARC Non Violence day 2016, the SAARC Cultural Capital will organize an Art Competition for Children on the Theme of Non Violence, all school going children will be given an opportunity to paint, thereby instilling values of non violence through the medium of art.