Mar 16, Colombo: High Commission of India in Colombo felicitated The living legend of Sri Lankan dance, legendary Kandyan danseuse and Sri Lanka's first prima ballerina Deshabandhu Dr. Vajira Chitrasena on her 81st birthday on Friday, 15 March 2013 at India House.
The felicitation was in recognition of Dr. Vajira Chitrasena's outstanding and unique contribution to enriching India- Sri Lanka relations through the promotion of dance.
Senior Minister for International Monetary Cooperation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning Dr. Sarath Amunugama was the Chief Guest. Former President of Sri Lanka Chandrika Kumaratunga, and Padma Shri Pandit Amaradeva were the Guests of Honour at the felicitation event.
The other dignitaries who graced the felicitation event included Minister of National Languages and Social Integration Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Deputy Minister Faizer Mustapha, Members of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya, Ravi Karunanayaka, Dayasiri Jayasekera, Eran Wickramaratne, A.H.M. Azwer and Vijitha Herath, Mrs. Indrani Weeratunga, along with four generations of Vajira family and Dr. Vajira's disciples.
In his address, Chief Guest Minister Amunugama emphasized the role Dr. Vajira played in the making of Sri Lankan national identity. He also recalled the High Commission of India's felicitation of the Sri Lankan musical icon Pandith Amaradeva in 2011 and underlined the significance of felicitating Dr. Vajira as she is the dance icon of Sri Lanka.
In her address, Chandrika Kumaratunga, former President of Sri Lanka focused on the stylistic aspects and various features of Dr. Vajira's dance. She also remembered her days of studying Kandyan dance under the tutelage of Dr. Vajira and her involvement in developing the dance for various kinds of expressions.
In his address, High Commissioner of India Ashok K. Kantha said that the event was to celebrate Dr. Vajira's remarkable artistic journey spanning over six decades and her achievements.
He underlined that Dr. Vajira is credited with creating the female version of Kandyan dancing and that some of the most treasured ballets of Sri Lanka such as Karadiya and Nala-Damayanthi were result of collaboration of Guru Chitrasena and Guru Vajira.
He noted that indigenous dance theatre in Sri Lanka is firmly based on the traditions developed through the creative energy of Guru Chitrasena and Guru Vajira. He also acknowledged legendary role of Guru Chitrasena in the revival of Sri Lanka's traditional dance forms and his exposure to India, through learning of Kathakali in Travancore in 1940 and study at Shantiniketan in 1945, which was a key influence in shaping his art form.
He also mentioned about numerous tours to India undertaken by Chitrasena and Vajira together with Chitrasena Dance Company from 1959 to 1998. He highlighted that connection established by Chitrasena and Vajira with India has continued to flourish and mentioned a remarkable recent collaboration between the Chitrasena Dance Company and Nrityagram, an Indian Dance Ensemble in putting together a joint production " Samhara" which received rave reviews in India, Sri Lanka, USA and elsewhere.
High Commissioner Kantha said that day was also a celebration of the shared cultural heritage of Sri Lanka and India and emphasized that based on shared, ancient roots, but nevertheless a living and dynamic cultural space is constantly renewed and revitalized through a process of give-and take and mutual appreciation.
Mrs. Somalatha Subasinghe, eminent writer and theatre personality passionately spoke about life and illustrious career of Dr. Vajira, Chitrasena.
Dr. Vajira Chitrasena was presented a felicitation plaque by High Commissioner Kantha, Mrs. Sharmila Kantha honored Dr. Vajira by presenting her with a Shawl.
The felicitation concluded with cutting of a cake to celebrate Dr. Vajira Chitrasena's 81st birthday in presence of distinguished invitees, her family members and officials of the High Commission of India.