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Independence Day

Sri Lanka celebrates independence on the 4th of February annually, having gained freedom from its last colonisers – the British, in 1948 AD.  Ceylon, as it was known then, was first colonised by the Portuguese between the period of 1518-1656 AD.  Colonial rule of the Portuguese came to an end with the invasion of the Dutch with whom King Rajasingha I made affiliations in order to free Ceylon from Portuguese rule.

However, after victory, the Dutch who did not hold up their end of the bargain, kept the Portuguese forts for themselves instead of returning them to the king.  The Dutch improved and strengthened these Portuguese structures and built new architectural buildings to further establish their reign within the country.

This caused King Rajasinha II to seek other means of help and resorted to obtaining help from the British to free the nation from the grasp of the Dutch colonisers.  With their military power, Ceylon gained independence from the Dutch in 1796 AD.

Thereafter, the country experienced the longest foreign colonisation under the British from the late 1790’s to 1948 AD.  The fight for freedom against British colonial rule was pioneered by Veerahennedige Francisco Fernando (also known as Veera Puran Appu), Gongalegoda Banda alias Peliyagoda David, Venerable Mohottiwatte Gunananda Thera (Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera) and Anagarika Dharmapala.  Meanwhile, on the political front, other leaders started campaigning for more responsibility in governing the country with the aim of becoming an independent nation.  As a result of this persistent power struggle, Ceylon gained its well-deserved independence in the year 1948 and the day of this great victory has been celebrated ever since.

The commemoration of the national day is held in grand scale and is opened only for invitees.  The celebration presents a colourful and elaborate parade replete with song, dance and instrumental performances from the military forces, cultural items from each district of the country and school children.  The national flag is ceremoniously hoisted by the President and is followed by his speech to the nation.  A guard of honour is also presented to the President with the firing of arms by the navy.  However, the Independence Day celebration can be watched, from its commencement until the conclusion, through local television from the comfort of one’s home.

Title image by: Sri Lanka Navy

Date and Time

Feb 04, 2018
8:00am
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Location

Islandwide

Type

Cultural and Religious

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