Closing Ceremony of the SAARC Cultural Capital 2018-19
Date : 29th June 2019
Venue : Thimphu, Bhutan
In pursuance of the SAARC Agenda for Culture the Concept of Cultural Capital was launched with the view to recognise and highlight the diversity of each SAARC Member State whilst celebrating the shared culture and heritage of the Region. Each SAARC Member State is invited to designate a city of their choice to be declared as the Cultural Capital of the SAARC Region for a period of one year. During this one-year period, the designated cultural capital would host a series of cultural and social events, made up of Participatory and Non-Participatory programmes. The SAARC Cultural Capital is declared to provide a platform for the SAARC Member States to promote Regional unity and enhance cultural activities.
The First SAARC Cultural Capital was the ancient city of Bamiyan located in the central part of Afghanistan. Bamiyan was officially inaugurated as the SAARC Cultural Capital on the 5th June 2015, and it became the host to many cultural programmes including the SAARC Artist Camp in 2015. The Closing Ceremony of the SAARC Cultural Capital of Bamiyan was held on 21st of September 2016. Thimphu, the Capital of Bhutan which is distinct for its unique culture and traditional values was designated as the SAARC Cultural Capital for the period from 2018-19. The Inauguration Ceremony held on 31st of May 2018 organised by the SAARC Cultural Centre in collaboration with the Department of Culture of Bhutan at the Clock Tower venue in Thimphu amidst a larger audience. The city became host to many cultural events which were organised to celebrate the SAARC Cultural Capital of 2018-19.
The Closing Ceremony of the SAARC Cultural Capital 2018-19 was held at the Conference Hall of the Department of Culture of Bhutan on the 29th June 2019 marking the end of the SAARC Cultural Capital Thimphu. Honourable Minister of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan, Hon. Mr. Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen graced this occasion with his presence as the Chief Guest while the Secretary General of SAARC H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial was the Guest of Honour. H.E the Ambassador for Bangladesh in Bhutan, Mr. Sonam Topgay Secretary, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Bhutan, Mr. Karma Weezir, Director General, Department of Culture, Bhutan, Ms. Renuka Ekanayake, Director, SAARC Cultural Centre and Officials from the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Bhutan were among the dignitaries present at the Closing Ceremony of the SAARC Cultural Capital of Thimphu.
The Event began with the “Marchang Ceremony” followed by the Special Theme Song. Mr. Karma Weezir, Director General of the Department of Culture, Bhutan delivered the Welcome Address. Hon. Mr. Dasho Sherub Gyeltshe, Minister of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan praised the collective initiative taken by the organisers and appreciated the intention to promote culture, trust and understanding to bridge Regional connectivity.
Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre, Ms. Renuka Ekanayake in her speech highlighted the role played by the SAARC Cultural Centre and its continuous efforts towards the promotion of Regional unity and the preservation and protection of South Asia’s Cultural Heritage. She also praised Thimphu for the successful completion of the SAARC Cultural Capital 2018-19, appreciating the support rendered by the Royal Government of Bhutan. The Secretary General of SAARC, H.E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial conveyed his compliments to the Royal Government of Bhutan for their accomplishments during the SAARC Cultural Capital 2018-19 and commended the sustained efforts of the organisers for successfully hosting several programmes to showcase Bhutan’s unique cultural heritage for the visitors. H.E. the Secretary General also wished the SAARC Member State of India, the host of SAARC Cultural Capital for 2019 – 2020 all success. Ms. Renuka Ekanayake, Director of the SAARC Cultural Centre received the Official Scroll of the SAARC Cultural Capital on behalf of the Member State of India from H.E the Secretary General. The Closing Ceremony also featured a Mask Dance which is an integral part of Bhutan’s rich cultural and religious traditions. The programme concluded successfully with the Vote of Thanks delivered by Mrs. Kishani Jayasinghe-Wijayasekara, Deputy Director-Programmes of the SAARC Cultural Centre.