SAARC Cultural Extravaganza

SAARC Cultural Extravaganza will be held in Pakistan.  Details to follow.

SAARC Non-Violence Day

The SAARC Non-Violence Day will be celebrated with an Art Competition for School Children of Sri Lanka.  Details to follow

SAARC Research Grants

Research Grants will be awarded to participants from the Member States based on their Research Proposals.  Details to follow.

SAARC Research Seminar on Buddhist Cultural Trails: Journey Through Time and Space, of Merchants, Monks and Pilgrims

The two-day Research Seminar organized by the SAARC Cultural Centre on “Buddhist Cultural Trails: Journey through Time and Space, of Merchants, Monks and Pilgrims” was held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) from 26th to 27th August 2017.  The Seminar was the first Seminar on “South Asian Cultural Trails” which aims to strengthen cultural ties in the region through a walk into the shared past of our ancestors.  In this endeavour, the various perspectives of the socio-cultural, tangible and intangible connectivity established through the popularity and the dissemination of Buddhism during history across several centuries were explored.  Officially nominated participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka presented 38 papers at the research seminar.

Inauguration
The inauguration was held at the BMICH amidst a distinguished gathering including Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic Religious representatives of Sri Lanka.  Mrs. Rajashree Behera, Director of the Indian Cultural Centre on behalf of the H.E. the High Commissioner of India, Mr. Intisar Ahmed Sulhery on behalf of the H.E. the High Commissioner of Pakistan, Mr. M.A.K. Girihagama, Director General of South Asia and SAARC Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka represented the Member States.  Mr. Dwatmaji Hanomanresi, Counsellor for Socio and Cultural Affairs represented H.E. the Ambassador of Indonesia at this august gathering.  Academics from University of Colombo, University of Sri Jayawardenapura, University of Peradeniya, Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka and other scholars were also present.

Mr. J, Dadallage, Consultant Public Relations to the Hon. Prime Minister of Sri Lanka ably represented our Chief Guest Mr. E.M.S.B. Ekanayake, Secretary to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka who was unable to join us due to his responsibilities.  Mr. Dadallage emphasised the importance of multi-disciplinary research seminars and promotion of tourism through the “South Asian Cultural Trails”.

The Welcome address was delivered by Mr. Wasanthe Kotuwella, Director, SAARC Cultural Centre and the Keynote Speaker was introduced by Ms. Bindu Urugodawatte, Deputy Director Research of the SAARC Cultural Centre.  Professor Nimal De Silva, Emeritus Professor of Architecture, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, delivered the Keynote Address on “Kalpawruksha The Celestial Tree in Asian Art and Architecture”.  The keynote provided a wonderful beginning to Research Seminar by discussing the shared heritage of South Asia.  Prof. Nimal De Silva through his keynote was able to intellectually stimulate the audience by combining tangible heritage and intangible heritage using a multi-disciplinary approach.  The inauguration was concluded with Dr. Lopamudra Maitra Bajpai giving the Vote of Thanks.

Academic Sessions
Seven multi-disciplinary academic sessions covering a vast range of subjects from Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, Art History, History, Tangible Heritage, Intangible Heritage, Museum Objects, Photo Documentation and new research on Buddhist Cultural Trails was presented and followed by very lively academic discussions.  The Sessions were as follows:
1.    The Paths of the Buddha – Chair: Prof. Nimal De Silva

  • Buddhism and Megalithism by Prof. Prathapachandran S. Panicker.
  • Ancient Buddhist Cultural Trails in Bangladesh by Mr. Md. Altaf Hossain.
  • Monks, Monuments and Mobility: The Buddhist Monastic Sites as Place Across Time in Central India by Dr. L. Lamminthang Simte.
  • Kanheri: The Spartan Caves with the Reflections of Cultural and Economic Trails in Western India by Prof. Avkash Jadhav.
  • Monks, Merchants and Pilgrims: Their Message for Asian Century by Dr. Susantha Goonatilake.

2.    Relics of the Buddha – Chair: Dr. Shivakant Bajpai

  • Relic Worship: Ruwanweli Stupa as the most Sacred Place of Worship for the Buddhists in the World by Mr. Prasanna B. Ratnayake.
  • An Overview of Buddhist Tangible Heritage Sites (Archaeological & Historical): A Study on Bangladesh Perspectives by Prof. Biman Chandra Barua.
  • Archaeological Sites of the Greater Lumbini Area in Relation to Buddhist Circuit by Ms. Mandakini Shrestha and Ms. Sabita Neupane.
  • Geoarchaeological Study of Stone Structures in the Temple of Tooth Relic Premises in Kandy Sri Lanka by Mr. Dilan Chathuranga Ranaweera.

3.    Buddhist Art & Architecture – Chair: Mr. Prasanna B. Ratnayake

  • Aurangabad Caves: A Lesser Known Buddhist Cave Temples in Maharashtra by Dr. Shivakant Bajpai.
  • Mahastangarh: A Buddhist Cultural Trail for Religious Tourism by Ms. Surayya Akhtar Jahan.
  • Mes Aynak: Recent Archaeological Excavations Along the Silk Route by Mr. Noor Agha Noori.
  • A Distribution of Anuradhapura Period Buddhist Monasteries in Mullaitivu and Mannar Districts in Northern Sri Lanka: A Study Using Geo Informatic Tools by Ms. Vasana Premachandra, Mr. M.V.G. Kalpa Asanga and Ms. P.M.R. Priyadarshani.
  • Buddhist Sites in Telangana State by Dr. Narsinga Rao Deekonda.
  • Early Buddhist Stone Meditation Furniture in Sri Lanka: Stone Beds and Brick Seats from Meditation Monasteries by Dr. Ayesha Abdur-Rahman.

4.    Merchants, Monks and Pilgrims – Chair: Prof. Biman Chandra Barua

  • Re-Reading Fa Xian: A Review of the Account on Ceylon with Reference to Contemporary Data by Mr. Dhammika Priyantha Chandrasekara.
  • Pilgrim Route from Sri Lanka’s North-Eastern Seaboard to Samanta Kuta (the Sacred Foot Print): Potential Outstanding Universal Value for UNESCO World Heritage Listing by Dr. Nilan Cooray.
  • An Identification of the Itinerary of the Ibn Battuta’s Pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada Mountain in Sri Lanka by Prof. Anura Manatunga.
  • An Exploration of Facts of Buddhist Cultural Bond Between Sri Lanka and Myanmar During the Medieval Period by Dr. S.M. Haldhar.
  • Nibbana Scene: Depicted in Stone Sculptures of Madhya Desa and Myanmar (2nd century CE to 12th century CE) by Prof. Vinay Kumar Rao.
  • Assessment of Cultural Heritage in Mantota Rajamaha Viharaya, Mannar using an Intelligent System by Mr. D.S. Kalana Mendis.

5.    Nuns and Artefacts – Chair: Dr. Nilan Cooray

  • In the Footsteps of Their Sanghamitta: A Gendered Survey of Buddhist Sites in India and Sri Lanka by Dr. Garima Kaushik.
  • Sri Lankan Women Travellers as Buddhist Trailblazers by Dr. Hema Goonatilake.
  • Masterpieces of Buddha Sculptures in Meditation in the Bangladesh National Museum by Mr. Shawkat Nabi.
  • Buddhist Artefacts in the Collection of the Colombo National Museum by Mr. Ranjith Hewage.
  • Some Glimpse of Buddhist Stone and Bronze Sculptures in the Collection of National Museum in Nepal by Ms. Mandakini Shrestha.
  • A New Approach to Documenting Ancient Paintings by Ms. K. Sumedha Kumari, Mr. Arjuna Samaraweera, Ms. R. Nishanthi Ranasinghe, Mr. Palitha Herath, Mr. I.P.S. Nishantha, Mr. Mahesh Gurumetiya and Mr. Lasantha Athukorala.

6.    Heritage Management & Tourism – Chair: Ms. Mandakini Shrestha

  • Trail of Guru to Central Bhutan by Ms. Tshering Choki.
  • Amaravathi Buddhist Heritage Town: Rehabilitation under the HRISAY and PRASAD Schemes of the Government of India by Prof. Amareswar Galla.
  • Heritage Tourism: ‘Packaging’ History and Places in the Central Indian Buddhist Pilgrimage Circuit by Dr. Prerana Srimaal.
  • A Proposal for the Promotion of Cultural Tourism in Sri Lanka: Ancient Buddhist Monastic Site at Telulla by Ms. Wasana Sirimalwatte.
  • Whether the Brahmi Script was brought to Sri Lanka with Buddhism? by Mr. Prasad Fonseka.
  • Fragmentary Dharani Scriptures: An Untold Story about Buddhism in Sri Lanka by Mr. Bertram G. Liyanage.

7.    Tangible and Intangible Heritage – Chair: Mr. Noor Agha Noori

  • Buddhist Monastic Hospitals in South Asia in the Historic Period with Special Reference to Sri Lanka by Ven. Wetara Mahinda.
  • Traditional Healing System of Lepcha Community of North Sikkim with Special Reference to Dzongu Reserve Area by Mr. Worrel Kumar Bain.
  • Reconstructing Aromatic and Medicinal Practices Along the Silk Road: As Recounted and Evidenced from the Dunhuang Manuscripts by Dr. Jyoti Marwah.
  • Yantra and Mantra in Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhism by Dr. Wimal Hewamanage.
  • Buddhist System of Education and its Relevance in Remodelling the Present-Day Ailing Education System by Dr. Neelima Dahiya.

Cultural Tour
On 28th August, the participants joined a Cultural Tour to the Arankele Meditation Monastery and Dambulla World Heritage Monastery.  The Cultural Tour provided an opportunity for participants to discuss the different ideas on tangible and intangible heritage as well as practical heritage management issues.  During the Cultural Tour, the lively and stimulating discussions which commenced during the Seminar continued in a much more relaxed atmosphere.  The two Buddhist Monasteries and discussions at the sites highlighted the shared cultural heritage and the slight differences within the region exemplifying the “Unity within Diversity” theme of the SAARC Cultural Centre.

The discussions were not all academic nor limited to Buddhist Cultural Trails but expanded to environment, food, habits, conservation, heritage management and even clothes and fashion.  The relaxed atmosphere helped to create closer links and understanding among the participants and possible future collaborations were also discussed.

The discussions and ideas shared and acknowledge during the Seminar and the contacts established among scholars and academics will carry the torch of Buddhist Cultural Trails to the future.

 

SAARC Exhibition of Paintings

The SAARC Cultural Centre held the SAARC Exhibition of Paintings 2017 in collaboration with the “Saundaryabhimani Festival” conducted by the University of the Visual and Performing Arts in Colombo over a period of one week, from 3rd July 2017 to 9th July 2017 at the University Premises. There was a vast array of paintings by participants of the SAARC Artists Camps over the years, displayed at the Exhibition. The Centre was honoured by the presence of several representatives from the High Commissions and Embassies of the honoured SAARC Member States and other distinguished guests at the Inauguration ceremony which included opening the Exhibition with ceremonial Sri Lankan drummers and dancers. This was followed by a spectacular cultural display exhibiting a combination of music and dancing, infusing eastern and western traditions of modern day culture, which took place at the newly inaugurated Lionel Edirisinghe Rostrum.

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 Artists Camp and Exhibition of Paintings 2017, was held very successfully in Nepal, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Government of Nepal for 4 days from the 28th to the 31st of July 2017.

Participation was very encouraging with official nominations for the Programme from the SAARC Member States of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The participating Artists were given the opportunity to create works of artistry and expression, inspired by the scenic, tranquil and picturesque Gokarna Forest Resort in Kathmandu. The themes for the 2017 Artists Camp were ‘Sacred Sites’ and ‘The Beauty of Nature’.

This year’s Programme commenced with the Inauguration Ceremony Chaired by the Secretary to the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, with the newly appointed Cultural Minister of Nepal as the Chief Guest of the Event. The Event was officially declared open following welcome speeches by the Members of the Head Table, which also included the Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre and the Director Education, Security and Culture of the SAARC Secretariat. Honoured High Commissioners and representatives from several SAARC Member States, Directors and officials of the SAARC Secretariat, the joint secretaries and under secretaries and other officials from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and the Foreign Ministry of Nepal, Chancellors of the Art Academy’s in Nepal, Artists from the participating Member States, distinguished guests, members of the Media and many other artist, well wishers and representatives from Artistic Entities were present.

Following the official Inauguration Ceremony, each delegation was introduced and presented with their artistic supplies for the duration of the Artists Camp. This included Canvasses, brushes, paints and many other items required for their paintings, with additional supplies being purchased as required/requested by the Artists.

The Artists continued with their creative interpretations through Art the following day (Day two) and on the third day there was a day trip to Historic and monumental sites in Kathmandu. This was followed by an informal Interactive Session between the Artists, co-chaired by the Chancellor of the Nepal Academy of Fine Arts and the Deputy Director (Programmes) of the SAARC Cultural Centre.

This was followed by preparations for the Exhibition of Paintings, displaying two paintings from each Artist, created over the course of the Artists Camp. The Exhibition was formally declared open by the Chief Guest of the Closing Ceremony, the Hon Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal, with His Excellency, the Secretary General of SAARC, in attendance. The Secretary to the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, other officials from the Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, Directors of the SAARC Secretariat, honoured Ambassadors/High Commissioners from the Honoured SAARC Member States, The Chancellor of the Nepal  Academy of Fine Arts, the Artists, representatives of the media and many distinguished guests graced the Occasion.

The SAARC Cultural Centre is very grateful to the officials of the SAARC Secretariat, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and the Foreign Ministry of Nepal and the Chancellor of the Nepal Academy of Fine Arts for being particularly helpful in making this Event a success.

The SAARC Cultural Centre hopes to continue this popular annual Programme in 2018, giving Artists the opportunity once again, to build interregional relationships and enhance artistic collaboration. Most importantly, to promote new cultural ties to be formed in an atmosphere of friendship, where cultural connectivity and artistic exchange will remain the main objective of the event, and all of it facilitated through the beauty and wonder of Art.

 

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
Monaragala

2nd Place
Tharushi Kaveesha Manawage
R/Gankanda Centar College
Rathnapura

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

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
Rathnapura

2nd Place
Samarasinghe Thanasha Dinithi Manawage
Ferguson High School
Rathnapura

3rd Place
Jayasundara Namal Wishwa Bandara
President’s College
Kotte

 

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.