The Russian Center in Colombo opened its doors on September 23 to the visitors with the Russian Cultural Festival – the first mass event organized since the April attacks.
The opening ceremony of the Festival was attended by the President of the Sri Lanka-Russia Friendship Society, member of the Sri Lankan Parliament Hon. Susil Premajayantha and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation H.E.Yuri Materiy.
Addressing the audience, the head of the Rossotrudnichestvo representative office in Sri Lanka, Mrs.Anastasia Khokhlova, thanked the members of the Russian Club and the numerous guests of the Festival, whom, despite the rainy weather, the RCSC, which was completely converted for the festival, could hardly accommodate.
“It is gratifying to see that people of Sri Lanka knows and loves Russian literature, classical music, ballet, and even more to see so many Sri Lankans, including young people, interested in modern Russia,” she said.
“I thank the Russian Club for the initiative and, of course, I express special gratitude to the sponsors of the festival, without whose participation its scale would not be so wide. Let this festival once again become annual and symbolize that bridge of friendship and mutual understanding, which has been supported by the peoples of the two countries for many decades, and which from year to year only gets wider and stronger,” Khokhlova added.
During the festival, the RCSC guests were offered numerous interactive venues dedicated to classical music, history, literature, science, outstanding Russian figures in various fields, the Russian language, etc. During the day, presentations, quizzes, film shows and master classes were held at the sites, in which everyone could participate. A selfie corner was organized for the youth, and, of course, all the guests were offered Russian food: pancakes, borscht and compote prepared by the joint efforts of the representatives of the two countries.
Similar cultural festival was held at the RCSC at the initiative of the Russian Club more than five years ago, and this year it was symbolically timed to coincide with International Peace Day (UN).
Russian Club is an informal youth association aimed at consolidating Sri Lankans who are interested in studying the Russian language, history and culture of Russia. This year the club’s work was reformatted, meetings of its members at the RCSC on weekends became regular again, and in addition to activists and regulars of the events, it started attracting many newcomers.
The Russian cultural festival at the RCSC in Colombo could be considered unique because, though with the full support of the Russian Centre and the Embassy of Russia, it is organized at the initiative of the Lankans themselves, members of the Russian Club, bringing together many musicians, writers and translators, teachers, journalists, tourist guides, students and public figures. The main idea of the Festival is to show Russia to the wide Sri Lankan public and share information in a language that it understands best: in the literal sense of the word, because the work of the corners and interactive pavillions is carries out mostly in Sinhala, and figuratively – the concept of the festival was developed in accordance with the initiative proposals of the Lankans themselves, members of the Russian Club.
At the end of the festival, a concert of amateur performances, a ceremony of presenting prizes to the winners of quizzes and a festive firework – “Salute of Peace” took place.
The festival, which lasted from ten in the morning until seven in the evening, was attended by a total of more than one and a half thousand people: many came from remote areas of the island: Balangoda, Dambulla, Kandy, Matara and others. Such a large-scale event within the walls of the RCSC in Colombo is held for the first time in its history.
The Russian cultural festival in Colombo received wide media coverage: on ITN and in newspapers of Sri Lanka and Russia.