Deepawali, Diwali is the festival of lights, widely celebrated by Hindus, symbolizing the spiritual ‘victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance’. The festival is widely associated with Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity. It also marks the celebration of Lord Rama returning to his kingdom in Ayodhya after serving 14 years of exile.
The Government of Uttar Pradesh and the Government of India organised a Magnum Opus Celebration named Deepotsav 2021 at Ayodhya from 01st-05th November, to mark this event of immense cultural pride.
A Sri Lankan cultural team was sent a special invitation to participate and perform in this grand event by Govt. of Uttar Pradesh. Dr. Lavkush Dwivedi, Director of Ayodhya Research Institute, Department of Culture, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh had invited Natya Kala Mandir in Colombo, led by Kalasuri Shrimathi Vasugi Jegatheeswaran and Dr. Rajesh Srivastava. The team comprising of 11 stage performers from Sri Lanka stole the show at Ayodhya.
On the 03rd November, Sri Lankan dancers enacted ‘Ramayana’ roles including Sri Ram and King Ravana on the Ram Katha Park main stage, in front of large crowds and this marked the performance special. Chief Minister of the State, Hon. Yogi Adityanath had thoroughly enjoyed the Sri Lankan performance and personally came up to the stage to greet the dancers and handover tokens of appreciation.
Breathtaking laser light shows, 3D drone projections, 12 Lakh oil lamps lit on the banks of Sarayu river, cultural shows, fireworks and many more festivities drew the world’s attention to this remarkable festival held in Ayodhya.
Gopal Baglay, High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka and Dr. Rewant Vikram Singh, Director of Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre in Colombo had personally interacted with the delegation and highlighted the significance of such cultural exchange to strengthen relations between both the nations.
Sri Lanka has seen a considerable growth in the arrival of tourists after easing border restrictions. Up to October 2021 the country has welcomed 60,695 tourists out of which Indians take 30% of largest share. Visitors from India during the month of October alone recorded 36.9% of the total arrivals making it the biggest tourism market to Sri Lanka.
The Ramayan Trail has been a very much popular cultural experience among Indian travellers. The Ramanyan Yathra was introduced to Indian travellers with over 50 Ramayana sites and a dedicated website in year 2018. The launch of ‘My Name is Ravana’ book written by Mr. Bala Sankuratri turned a new leaf in the modern era of Ramayan Epic.
The new product development team of SLTPB headed by Jeevana Fernando along with the Ramayana Committee constantly strive to improve the Ramayana experience for Indian travellers.
In late August, Sri Lanka restarted its tourism campaign in India opening its borders for Indian travellers. SriLankan Airlines started four weekly flights to Chennai, three to Mumbai, and one to Bengaluru whilst restarting operations with one flight a week between Colombo – Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Trivandrum and Cochin. A connecting flight was also scheduled to operate between Colombo, Hyderabad and New Delhi with two flights in a week. The airline also launched a buy one get one free ticket campaign in India.
Sri Lanka Tourism fully endorses events like Deepotsav festival, which will further the cultural awareness of both countries and eventually contribute to the growth of Indian visitors to Sri Lanka. Tourism is planning to earn around 500 million dollars in the year to March 2022, with at least 50,000 arrivals a month in future. India will play a major role in securing these targets from the very outset.
Sri Lanka Tourism wish to thank Govt. of India, Ministry of Culture, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh, Sri Lanka’s team of Global Encyclopedia of the Ramayana led by Bala Sankuratri, comprising of Gnanakumar Sithambaram, Mrs. Gayathri Suveendran and the dancers team who represented Sri Lanka taking Indo-Sri Lankan cultural relations to a new height with this remarkable event.