One of the biggest challenges facing our youth is finding our identity. As children of immigrants in a country where we’re in the minority, it can be easy to feel like an outsider. However, we are fortunate to have a dual identity with a part of us belonging to Aotearoa and a part belonging to our mother country Sri Lanka. As a member of the ‘Red Hot Lunumiris’ youth band, I have found a harmonious balance between the two aspects of my life.
I have been a part of the Sri Lankan community throughout my life: Whether that be being involved in dancing and drumming or volunteering in fundraising events. I have been lucky enough to grow up within a strong community. Being a part of the youth band has been a different experience. The four boys and I have formed a bond that is unlike any other. We bond over playing English music we love while being exposed to a whole new genre in Sri Lankan music. Every time we get together, there is lots of love, and great music shared.
I believe I have grown closer to my culture through being in this band by being united by the universal language of music. Singing upbeat baila or melodic love songs has made me appreciate Sri Lankan music more. Before being in the band, the only Sri Lankan music I knew was from what my parents were listening to. Now I have my favourite (and least favourite) songs from playing them in the band.
Performing to the community is a real treat. I think it’s exceptional that our community gets to listen to a group of 16-18-year-olds playing their favourite songs to the same calibre as our adult counterparts. Although most of us are going into University next year and the future of the Red Hot Lunumiris is uncertain, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the guys and wouldn’t trade the experience. I hope that we have inspired the next generation of musicians to explore Sri Lankan music to take our place to continue the cycle of talented young Sri Lankan musicians.