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Celebrating Diversity and Culture: Dunedin Sri Lankan Society Enriches the Otago Region

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Dunedin, a Jewel of South Island, Embraces a New Cultural Horizon
Nestled among rolling hills and serene harbours, Dunedin stands as a picturesque testament to New Zealand’s beauty. Beyond its natural splendour, this vibrant city boasts a rich tapestry of cultures, and among them, the Sri Lankan community shines as a beacon of diversity and unity. The recent establishment of the Dunedin Sri Lankan Society (DSLS) marks a significant milestone in Dunedin’s cultural landscape, weaving together heritage, education, and community spirit.

Crafting Identity and Bridging Generations
The DSLS, a not-for-profit society, has emerged as a unifying force for Dunedin’s Sri Lankan population. With a vision to foster goodwill and understanding among Sri Lankans, the society also strives to preserve and promote the island nation’s rich culture, languages, and heritage for generations to come. The DSLS provides a platform for Sri Lankan emigrants to seamlessly integrate into Kiwi society, ensuring a smooth transition and meaningful connections.
Under the leadership of President Randima Senarathna and his dedicated committee, DSLS has successfully orchestrated a range of culturally significant events that celebrate Sri Lanka’s diverse dimensions. From the vibrant festivities of Sinhala & Tamil New Year to the solemn beauty of Vesak, DSLS bridges the gap between tradition and modernity. These events not only resonate with the Sri Lankan community but also serve as a window into the nation’s culture for all of Dunedin’s residents.

Fostering Connection and Recognition
The recent Mid-Winter Get-together hosted by DSLS showcased the society’s commitment to creating an inclusive space for all. Participants revelled in a day of music, fun activities, and delectable cuisine, providing a heartwarming display of cultural exchange. Amidst the festivities, DSLS celebrated the remarkable achievements of young talent, exemplified by 14-year-old Kalya Kandegoda Gamage, who earned the prestigious Mount Batten Medal—an embodiment of the community’s dedication to excellence.

Looking Ahead: Building Bridges and Expanding Horizons
As DSLS approaches its first year of formal existence, the society remains steadfast in its dedication to fostering connections, embracing diversity, and enriching the cultural fabric of Dunedin and beyond. Under the leadership of current President Susil Rupasinghe and his capable team, DSLS is spreading its wings to cover surrounding areas, ensuring that Sri Lankan culture and camaraderie reach even the farthest corners of the Otago region. The society’s expansion to locations such as Milton, Balclutha, and Oamaru is a testament to its commitment to inclusivity and community growth.

Meet the Dynamic Team Behind Dunedin Sri Lankan Society
The inaugural AGM of DSLS was held on 14 January 2023 under the leadership of Randima Senarathna as the chair of an interim committee. He was then elected as the first president of the society. The completion of the fiscal year on March 2023 led the society to endure its second AGM on 14 June 2023. For the current fiscal year, DSLS is now directed by the elected president, Susil Rupasinghe and the team, Suranga Dassanayake (vice president), Kasun Gayathra (secretary), Inas Jenabdeen (assistant secretary), Duminda Kuruppuarachchi (treasurer), Gayan Mendis (assistant treasurer), along with Niroshini De Silva, Indunil Silva, Nishantha Alahakoon, Dulari Ranasinghe, Malithi Arachchige, and Sajeewa Fernando as the committee members

Join the Movement: Unite, Celebrate, and Learn
Dunedin Sri Lankan Society warmly invites all to join its mission of promoting cultural understanding, fostering diversity, and embracing unity. Whether you’re an established member of the Sri Lankan community or a curious Dunedin resident eager to explore new cultures, DSLS offers a vibrant platform for connection. Share your thoughts, participate in events, and be a part of this exciting journey.
To stay updated and get involved, reach out to DSLS via email at secretary.dsls@gmail.com. Connect with the society on Facebook by visiting “Dunedin Sri Lankan Society Incorporated” at www.facebook.com/dslsinc.

Dilhan is thankful for the support extended to him by Duminda Kuruppuarachchi, Kasun Gayathra (the secretary of DSLS) and other members in the Sri Lankan community in Dunedin in collecting information for this article).

By Dilhan Athapththu – Wellington


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