Cultural cooperation is a very important aspect of the bilateral relationship and the Cultural Cooperation Agreement signed by the Government of India and the Government of Sri Lanka on 29 November, 1977 at New Delhi forms the basis on which the periodical Cultural Exchange Programmes (CEPs) between the two countries are signed and implemented. Programme of Cultural Cooperation (PCC) for 2010-2013 was signed during the June 2010 State Visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India. The PCC seeks to enhance the level of cooperation in a wide variety of fields such as performing arts, visual arts, libraries, museums, archives & cultural documentation, archaeology, handicrafts, sports and youth affairs, publications and professional exchanges and mass media.
India and Sri Lanka are closest neighbours and the relationship between the two countries is more than 2,500 years old built upon a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic intercourse. Relations between the two countries have also matured and diversified with the passage of time, encompassing all areas of contemporary relevance. The shared cultural and civilizational heritage of the two countries and the extensive people to people interaction provide the strong bedrock for a multi-faceted partnership.
Cultural relations between India and Sri Lanka have traditionally been close and friendly, reflecting ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic ties that transcend recorded history, Geographical proximity and common social and cultural values have contributed significantly towards bringing the two countries closer together. Continuing cultural exchanges have further reinforced and enriched our relationship.
Sambuddhatava Jayanti Celebrations
A number of initiatives were undertaken by us to jointly commemorate the 2600th Anniversary of Enlightenment of Lord Buddha “Sambuddhatva Jayanthi” with Sri Lanka, which inter-alia, include:
(i) Organization of an International Buddhist Conference on the theme “Cultural Interface between India and Sri Lanka- Based on Buddhist History, Art, Literature and Philosophy” at Kandy. The Conference was inaugurated by the President of Sri Lanka and graced by Prime minister, Minister of External Affairs, other Ministers, Parliamentarians and senior officials. The Conference was organized by ICCR in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Buddhasasna and Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka with University of Peradeniya and Sri Lanka Buddhist Academy as the partnering institutes and had participation of scholars from Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam , Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.
(ii) Installation of a 16 ft. high statue of Lord Buddha in the Sarnath style gifted by India at the entrance of the International Buddhist Museum complex at Sri Dalada Maligawa,Kandy in September 2011;
(iii) launching of a special Buddhist circuit train by Indian Railways called ‘Damba Diwa Vandana’ from Chennai catering to Sri Lankan pilgrims (in November 2011);
(iv) Odissi Dance recital “Nirvana- the life of Gautam Budha” at the BMICH Exhibition Centre, Colombo from 18-21 May 2011 where Hon’able Chamal Rajapaksa, Speaker of the Parliament was the Chief Guest. The troupe also performed at Kandy and Kegalle;
(v) A photographic exhibition sponsored by Indian Council for Cultural Relations “Buddhism in India” by renowned photographer Sondeep Shankar was also displayed at the BMICH Exhibition Centre form 18-22 May 2011. India’s contribution to the Sambuddhatva Jayanthi celebrations also included screening of a film “Gautam Buddha” by famous Director Bimal Roy and screening of documentaries “The Oneness of Creation”, “The Path of Compassion” and “The Land of Buddha”.
(vi) We are also in the process of setting up an Indian Gallery at the International Buddhist Museum at Sri Dalada Maligawa complex in Kandy. MEA has signed an agreement with the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) in this regard and NSCM will be the implementing agency for this project.
(vii) The exposition of Sacred Kapilavastu Relics from 19 August to 12 September 2012 was also continuation of Joint Celebration of Sambuddhatva Jayanthi. The Exposition was organized in Sri Lanka at the request of President of Sri Lanka made to Hon. Prime Minister of India.
150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore
Gurudev Tagore’s three main visits to Sri Lanka in 1922, 1928 and 1934, and two transit halts, had clearly left an abiding imprint. Bonds then forged have been nurtured over the year and there is a genuine ground support for Tagore and his legacy in Sri Lanka. Tagore’s visits and his extensive interactions with artists and literary personalities of Sri Lanka significantly contributed to the country’s cultural resurgence, inspiring artistes, dancers, and singers to develop their genres to classical forms. Prominent Sri Lankan artists such as Ananda Samarakoon, Chitrasena and Sunil Shantha attended Visva-Bharati University, and they were greatly influenced by their association with him. On the other hand, Tagore was himself impressed by Kandyan dance and mask dance of Sri Lanka; and adapted some elements of those dances in his later choreographic productions.
A number of activities/ events were organized to commemorate 150th Birth Anniversary in Sri Lanka. These included:
(i) Release of a special postal stamp by the Department of Post, Government of Sri Lanka on 7 May, 2011;
(ii) Launch of a publication “Remembering Rabindranath Tagore” by the University of Colombo which also contains a message by the President of Sri Lanka on 7 May, 2011;
(iii) Organization of a one day seminar titled “Tagore in Sri Lanka” which was coordinated by well-known Indian author and literary critic Prof. Radha Chakravarty. Prof. Bharathy Ray, Vice President of ICCR delivered the keynote address. It also included presentations by leading Sri Lankan scholars such as Prof. K.N.O. Dharmadasa, Dr. Sandagomi Coprehewa, Prof. Vini Vitharana, Mr. Ravibandu Vidyapathi, Prof. Tissa Kariyawasam, Prof. Wimal Dissanayake and Mr. Chandragupta Thenuwara. The deliberations of the seminar would be published in the form of a commemorative volume.
(iv) A bust of nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore was unveiled on 26 June, 2012 by Hon. Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lankan at the Main Library of the University of Colombo. The bronze bust sculpted by Janak Jhankar Narzary has been gifted by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
(v) A Photo exhibition “Pilgrimages to the East” curated by Supriya Roy and an exhibition of digital reprints of Gurudev Tagore’s paintings “Artist Rabindranath Tagore” were organized from 2-8 December 2011. The exhibitions were travelled to Kandy, Jaffna and Hambantota.
(vi) Re- Staging of “Shaap Mochan”: 15 member troupe led by Mrs. Bimbavati Devi and Ashim Bandhu Bhattacharjee combined the dance form of Manipuri and Kathak and re-staged Shaap Mochan in Sri Lanka through the performance “Prabhu Amar Priyo Amar”. Tagore himself had acted in Shaap Mochan staged in Sri Lanka during his visit in 1934 and which had received rare reviews in the press including by Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranayake who later became the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. The troupe also performed at Galle, Kandy and Jaffna.
(vii) An evening of Tagore Songs by famous Bangladeshi artist Rezwana Choudhury Bannya: was organized on 28 March 2011 in association with the High Commission of Bangladesh.
(viii) Screening of films on Tagore: Tagore Film Festival was held from 1-5 September 2011 at the National Film Corporation Auditorium in Colombo. The feature films screened in the Festival were Pathar Panchali, Ghare Baire, Agantuk and Charulata directed by Satyajit Ray and Chokher Bhali directed by Rituparno Ghosh.
(ix) Lectures by Reba Som and Prof. Radha Chakarvarty: on Gurudev Tagore were organized at various Universities in the month of January 2011 and June 2012.
(x) Visit of delegation from Sri Palee Past Pupil Association to Santiniketan: was facilitated in June 2012. Gurudev Tagore had laid down the foundation of Sri Palee, modeled along the lines of Santiniketan during his visit to Sri Lanka in 1934.
(xi) Seminars organized by Sri Lankan Institutes: Ministry of Culture and the Arts, Government of Sri Lanka and University of Colombo organized seminars paying homage to Gurudev Tagore in November and May 2011 respectively.
(xii) Additional programmes organized as part of Tagore Celebrations were:
· Dancer’s Guild organized “Kanya” a combination of Sri Lankan and Indian dance, as a tribute to Tagore by renowned dancer by Chandana Wickremasinghe;
· Tagore Society released a Journal on Tagore edited by Dr Neel Gunasekera;
· a children and Youth Art Exhibition at Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) auditorium by the Tagore Society organised;
· a programme of Musical creativity of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore by Amar-Daya Foundation at ICC;
· Madhur Sandhya- An evening of Music and dance organized by the Tagore Society at John De Silva Theatre on 12 march 2012;
· “Legacy of Santiniketan” a tribute to Gurudev Tagore by renowned Sri Lankan artists who are alumni of Santiniketan on 8 May 2012.
Classical Music and Dance
Many prominent Sri Lankan cultural institutes and Indian cultural institutes have strong linkages. This includes the world famous Ballet School of Chitrasena & Vajira who quickly adopted elements from Indian dance traditions to Sri Lankan styles. The University of Visual & Performing Arts in Colombo was set up in late 1940s as the Institute of Aesthetic Studies by the late Lionel Edirisinghe, a Shantiniketan alumnus. Similarly, the Sri Palee College in Horana is intimately linked to Rabindranath Tagore, who laid down its foundation in 1934. Renowned Sri Lankan vocalist and musical composer Pt. W.D. Amaradeva, whose trademark musical style incorporates Sinhalese folk music with Indian ragas, received training at the Bhatkhande Institute of Music in Lucknow and was awarded Padma Shri award by the Government of India in year 2002. Other renowned musicians and singers who have retained strong Indian connections following their training in India include Anil Mihiripenna (musician and flautist), sitarist Pradeep Ratnayake and the musicians Prof. Amara and Dr. Dayaratna. There are also a number of private schools in different cities of Sri Lanka that teach classical Indian music and dance.
Some 10 scholarships are awarded through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations every year to Sri Lankan students for undergraduate studies in India in the fields of music, dance and painting, which are very much sought after. One or two scholarships are also given for postgraduate and doctoral studies.
Exchange of Artistes and Cultural Personalities
There has been a regular exchange of performing artistes between India and Sri Lanka. Some of the notable visits in the past have been: T.N. Krishnan and N. Rajamk, Pt. V.G. Jog, Alarmel Valli, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, Jyoti Srivastava, Nandini Singh, Sonal Mansingh, Manjari Chaturvedi, Aditi Mangaldas, a 25 member dance troupe from Kalakshetra, Prof. U.R. Ananthamurthy, Smt. Shubha Mudgal, Smt. Ranjana Gauhar, Meghalaya Choir Group, Pt. Jai Krishan Maharaj, Smt. Geetanjali Lal, Bindu Juneja, Ratan Thiyam, 5- member Kuchchipudi dancer Deepika Reddy (October 2008), Bollywood dance troupe from Mumbai ( Republic Day celebrations 2009), Kathak dancer Hari and Chethna (Independence Day celebrations 2009), Bharatnatyam dancers Sridhar and Anuradha (Republic Day celebrations 2010).
In recent past, an Odissi dance troupe led by Sharmila Biswas performed in Sri Lanka during Independence Day celebrations in 2010. An eight member Kathakali dance troupe led by Kottakkal Chandrasekharan performed during Republic Day celebrations in 2011, a troupe led by Nalini & Kamalini gave Kathak performances during Independence Day celebrations 2011 and a 14 member Kathak troupe led by Mrs. Aditi Mangaldas performed during Republic Day celebrations in 2012. Celebrated Mohiniyattam danseuse Dr. Kanak Rele accompanied by the Nalanda troupe performed in Sri Lanka for the 66th Independence Day celebrations.
Ghazal performances of Dr. Kumud Diwan and her troupe sponsored by the ICCR were organized from 14 to 19 March 2012 in Sri Lanka.
Shri T.M Krishna along with his troupe was the first renowned artist to perform in the Northern Province after the end of armed conflict in 2009 and his performances were very well received. T. M. Krishna and his troupe performed in Jaffna, Vavuniya and Kilinochchi in 7 October 2011. He also performed in Colombo. A cultural festival ‘Kalai Koodam,’ by leading artists from Southern India such as renowned Bhartnatyam exponent Alarmel Velli and famous Carnatic singers Unni Krishnan and T. M. Krishna was organized in Jaffna from 16-18 August coinciding with the Nallur Temple Festival. It was a follow up to the visit of T.M. Krishna to Jaffna last year and was a celebration of art exposing students to the classical art forms and giving them an opportunity to learn from the best and hone their skills.
A very positive development is that, increasingly, exchanges of artistes and cultural troupes are taking place through private initiatives. In January 2008, an Oddisi dance troupe from the renowned Nrityagram Dance Village in Bangalore came here on the invitation of the world famous Ballet School of Chitrasen and Vajira. It led to professional exchanges between the two troupes resulting in “Samhara - A fusion of Kandyan and Oddissi dance forms” The Samhara was staged in USA and India and performances held in Colombo in May 2012 received wide acclamation.
The Tamil community based in Welawatta area of Colombo, for example, has been regularly calling down top artistes, mainly Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music, from Tamil Nadu through their own initiatives. With the end of the conflict, cultural troupes have also toured Northern and Eastern provinces. Some of the famous artist who performed in Sri Lanka include Savitha Shastry, Vidya, Raghu Dixit Band, etc.
Apart from the performing arts, there have also been exchanges in the fields of literature, films, exhibitions, etc. Documentaries on India as well as recordings of Indian music are regularly telecast by TV and radio channels in Sri Lanka.
Exhibitions: The exhibition of paintings and photographs by reputed Indian artist are regularly organized in Sri Lanka. In recent past, an exhibition of over 70 photographs of Buddhist Art and Heritage sites by reputed photographer Benoy Behl was organized at many cities in Sri Lanka including Gale, Colombo, Kandy & Matara in 2009. An exhibition of painting entitled “Kalpana” and a photographic exhibition entitled “Religions of India” was held at the Lionel Wendt Gallery in May 2010. Around 29 paintings and 30 photographs were on display. An exhibition of paintings painted at a weeklong SAARC camp “Pudducherry Blues” was held at the National Art Gallery in February- March 2011. An exhibition “Harmony and Rhythm” by four women artists was organized at the National Art Gallery in July, 2011. A photographic exhibition “Islamic Monuments of India” was organized at the JDA Perera Gallery and at Zahira College in February 2012. A photographic exhibition “India through Sri Lankan Eyes” by reputed Sri Lankan photographer Mithra S. Weerakone, immediate past President of Photographic Society of Sri Lanka, whose visit on Mahaparinirvana Express was sponsored by us, was displayed at the “Deyata Kirula-2012” at Anuradhapura and was displayed in Colombo from 10-12 August, 2012 as a prelude to the exposition of sacred Kapilvastu Relics.
Literary Cooperation: Famous author, Festival Director and Publisher Namita Gokhale visited Sri Lanka in July 2012 and delivered lectures in Colombo and Kandy. Five Indian authors would be visiting Sri Lanka in September 2012 coinciding with the National Literary Festival of Sri Lanka. India- Sri Lanka Foundation also supports participation of two Indian authors in the Galle Literary Festival every year and participation of two Sri Lankan authors in the Jaipur Literary Festival. Prof. Sumathy Sivamohan, Professor of English. University of Peradeniya received Premchand Fellowship of Sahitya Akademi in 2012.
Participation of Sri Lanka artists in various events in India: There is also vigorous and enthusiastic participation from Sri Lankan artistes, cultural troupes, cultural personalities, writers, dramatists and craftsperson in cultural and literary events in India, including youth and students' festivals, crafts melas, theatre festivals, film festivals, etc.
We had sponsored the visit of Chitrasena Dance Company to give performances at Dilli Haat during the XIX Commonwealth Games held in Delhi in October 2010. A cultural troupe from Sri Lanka participated in the 3rd SAARC Folklore and Heritage Festival held in Chandigarh from 3-5 December 2010. Participation of Prasanna Ru Dance ensemble from Sri Lanka in the Buddhist International Performing Arts Festival organized by the ICCR in November 2011 was facilitated. Ms. Mokasha Samarasoorya, Kathak dancer and also the faculty member of the Indian Cultural Centre, Colombo participation in the 2nd International Dance Festival from 24 to 25 October 2011 at Kamani auditorium, New Delhi was facilitated. Almost every year, Sri Lankan drama troupes visit New Delhi to participate in the Bharat Rang Mahotsav, the annual drama festival of the National School of Drama.
Sri Lankan Bands have been participating in the South Asian Band Festival usually held in New Delhi in the month of December. ‘Soul Sounds’, ‘Stigmata’, ‘Paranoid Earthling’, ‘Funeral in Heaven’ and ‘Tantrum’ performed in February 2008, December 2008, December 2009, December 2010 and December 2011 respectively.
We have been associated with the setting up of the Handicraft Marketing Village, modeled on the lines of Dilli Haat, constructed by National Crafts Council of Sri Lanka and which was inaugurated on 2nd December 2010. National Crafts Council of Sri Lanka and Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) of India jointly organized a week long joint workshop-cum-exhibition of master craftsmen from India and Sri Lanka in Colombo in April 2011. Similarly, we organized a joint Handicrafts Exhibition in India during the India International Trade Fair in November 2011. National Crafts Council’s proposal for our assistance in setting up of handicrafts production and marketing villages in Jaffna and Hambantota has been approved under the Small Development Project Scheme.
Films and TV Serials
Since the making of the first Sinhala feature film Kadawunu Poronduwa ('Broken Promise') 53 years ago, the Sri Lankan film industry has strong connections with Indian Film industry. The veteran Sri Lankan film maker Dr. Lester James Peries, whom Satyajit Ray once described as his closest relative in Asia, received a life-time achievement award at the XXXI International Film Festival of India. XP Division has produced a documentary on Dr. Peiris. Noted actress Malini Fonseka won the Silver Peacock Award at the Indian International Film Festival in Goa in 2008. Actor, Director and Producer Sanath Gunatilake was felicitated for his contribution to the cinema industry at the 41st Indian International Film Festival in Goa held in November, 2010.
Indian Hindi and Tamil films are very popular and are regularly telecast on government and private TV channels and also at local theatres. Hindi and Tamil songs are also popular. Several Indian TV serials, are screened by the Tamil and Sinhala channels with Hindi serials dubbed in Sinhala. Indian films have also been screened at film festivals in Sri Lanka; for instance, “Trishangi” and “The Land of Buddha” were screened at the Vesak 2010 International Buddhist Film Festival and 6 films were screened in the SAARC Children's Film Festival. Indian films and documentaries screened at the SAARC Film Festival have won awards in last two years.
Indian Film Festivals : An Indian Film festival after a gap of nine years was organized in February 2011 in association with the National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka. This was followed by a Tagore Film Festival in September 2011. Indian Film ‘Iqbal’ was screened as a part of monthly film screenings by the SAARC Cultural Centre in May 2012. An Indian Film Festival was also organized at the Excel World in August 2012. An event to celebrate ‘100 years of Indian Cinema” was organized in June 2012 which was attended by leading personalities from the Sri Lankan film and television Industry. A Film appreciation workshop by the faculty members of the FTII, Pune was organized at the Digital Film Academy of Sri Lanka in July 2012. The next Indian Film Festival will be organized by the High Commission in association with the National Film Corporation in November 2012.
A number of Sri Lankan film artistes have started acting in Indian films, notably the Kollywood actress Pooja Umashankar, who is of Sinhala-Kannada parentage and educated in India. She also acts in Sinhala films. In Deepa Mehta's film “Water”, Sri Lankan child artiste Sarala Kariyawasam played the role of the child widow Chuyia. Former Miss Sri Lanka Jacqueline Fernandez had acted in film “Aladin” and was awarded as the best upcoming actress at IIFA awards held in Colombo in 2010. A number of Indian films have been shot in Sri Lanka such as Ready, Jism 2, Midnight’s Children etc.. Most of the post-production processing of the Sri Lankan films is done at the facilities in Chennai or Mumbai. Many leading Sri Lankan film personalities have intimate connections with India, e.g., Pooja Umashankar, and a number have been trained at our film institute in Pune, e.g., Vimukthi Jayasundara, who won an award at Cannes in 2005. He also directed a Bengali film based on Tagore story which was nominated as India’s entry to Cannes Film Festival in 2011.
It is said that Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation's (SLBC) collection of Indian film songs, particularly old songs, is unmatched. Old Hindi Film & Song Lovers Society, Sri Lanka has phenomenal membership and with our support had organized “ Geet Madhuri” in February 2012.
Propagation of Hindi
There is substantial interest in Sri Lanka in learning Hindi. The Indian Cultural Centre conducts Hindi classes at nominal charges. Every year around 500 students join these classes and most appear for Hindi exams conducted by the Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra. Since 2004 on a test basis, and since April 2005 on a wider basis, two new courses in Hindi, especially designed for Sinhala students called the Proficiency Certificate Courses, have been introduced at the ICC with impressive results. As the emphasis of these courses is on spoken Hindi, complete beginners are speaking, reading, writing Hindi within six months of starting the course. The World Hindi Day (10th January) is celebrated at the ICC with Hindi plays and Hindi poetry reading sessions. Considering the popularity of the Hindi courses in Sri Lanka, a short term Chair has been deputed by the ICCR at the Indian Cultural Centre.
Courses for higher education in Hindi are conducted by the Universities of Kelaniya, Jayawardenapura and Sabaragamuwa, with the University of Kelaniya having a full-fledged department of Hindi Studies. There are several private schools as well that teach Hindi. Each year 10-12 scholarships for learning Hindi at the Kendriya Hindi Sansthan (KHS), Agra are awarded to Sri Lankans by the High Commission; besides the Assistant High Commission in Kandy also awards five scholarships for studying at KHS.
There are a number of cultural/friendship societies active in promoting Indian culture in Sri Lanka with Sri Lankan nationals accounting for a majority of their membership. Government of India (through Ministry of Culture) has provided annual Grants-in-Aid to the following Sri Lankan societies in 2010-2011: Sri Lanka – India Society, Colombo, Sri Lanka Indian Cultural Association (Kalyana SLICA) of the Central Province, Kandy; Sharda Kala Niketanaya, Colombo; Tagore Society of Sri Lanka and Kalalaya School of Dance & Music (Tamil Women’s Union). The discretion given to the Missions in providing support to the various Friendship societies/Institutes etc. involved in promotion of Indian culture under this scheme was utilized to organize a number of cultural events in association with the Friendship societies/ institutes/Universities etc during 2011-2012 which gave a tremendous fillip to our cultural activities in Sri Lanka.
Also active in the promotion of Indian culture are a large number of community organizations that include Sindhi Society, the Kerala Samajam and the Gujarati Society, the All Ceylon Hindu Association and the Hindu Council of Sri Lanka.
Building Sri Lankan Library capacities
Our cultural activities include attempts to build Sri Lankan library capacities through the donation of books and periodicals on India. Books in English, Hindi and Tamil are donated from time to time to municipal and school libraries and to various institutions in different parts of Sri Lanka. The Northern and Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, which is recovering from the ravages of the ethnic conflict, have been singled out for special focus and we intend to render significant assistance in building up the library capacity at the Eastern University, especially the Swami Vipulananda Institute of Aesthetic Studies at the University of Batticaloa and the Jaffna Public Library. The Mission is also implementing the Indira Gandhi Library Project in association with the Sri Lanka India Society.
Cultural Rejuvenation of the Eastern and Northern Provinces
After the end of the conflict, India is committed to promote and reinvigorate the cultural life of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. To this end, we shall organize more and more cultural activities to reach out to the people in these provinces. Consulate General of India in Jaffna inaugurated by the Minister of External Affairs on 27th November 2010 will assist in setting up the Jaffna Cultural Centre and restoration of Duriappa stadium. We are also undertaking the restoration of the Thiruktheeswaram temple in Mannar. It is our endeavour to organize the exhibitions and performances by the visiting troupes also in the Northern Province. Abhijnana Shakuntalam – produced by Aru Sri Art Theatre under the direction of Kalasuri Arunthathy Sriranganathan in form of musical dance drama in Tamil gave was performed at Jaffna in May 2010 before packed audience. T.M. Krishna performance was also well received in October 2011 and he organized a Festival in Jaffna from 16-18 August 2012 coinciding with the Nallur Tample Festival Setting up of Consulate General of India in Jaffna will be instrumental in resuming the old ties and linkages of connectivity that existed between our two countries.
Indian Cultural Centre
The Indian Cultural Centre was established in Colombo in 1998, with the aim of building bridges of cultural exchange and interaction between India & Sri Lanka. The Centre is one of the 24 Indian Cultural Centres established by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to revive and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries and seeks to promote India-Sri Lanka cultural co-operation by building on cultural commonalities and creating an awareness of Indian culture in all its facets. Since its inauguration in 1998, the Indian Cultural Centre has firmly established itself on the Sri Lankan cultural scene and earned a reputation for excellence through its wide-ranging multi-faceted activities. The Centre offers classes in Bharatha Natyam, Kathak, Hindustani & Carnatic vocal music, Violin, Sitar, Tabla, Hindi and Yoga. For conducting these classes the Centre draws on a talented and committed group of Sri Lankan teachers. Over time, the Centre has gained tremendous popularity with nearly 1500 students enrolled in the various classes conducted at the Centre. The Centre also screens 4-5 Indian films and documentaries every month. The Centre also maintains a well equipped library and reading room with a large collection of books, newspapers, periodicals, CDs and DVDS.
India- Sri Lanka Foundation
India-Sri Lanka Foundation established in 1998 also promotes greater understanding between the peoples of two countries including through enhancement of cultural cooperation. The India - Sri Lanka foundation established in 1998,financed through revenues from a trust set up with grants made available by the two governments, fosters India - Sri Lanka relations through the enhancement of economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation between India and Sri Lanka and promotes greater understanding between the people of the two countries. It also provides active support to the cultural activities and some of the recent examples of the events supported include staging of ‘Mrichakateeham’, ‘Samhara’, ‘ participation of two theatre groups in the International Theatre Festival in Sri Lanka, visit of Ms. Namita Gokhle, Cultural Festival in Jaffna by T.M. Krishna etc.
Last three years have seen a quantum jump in the cultural cooperation between India and Sri Lanka because of innovative use of alternative mechanisms such as India-Sri Lanka Foundation and generous support by the ICCR and Ministry of Culture.