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Sri Lankan Festival - Pearl of the Indian Ocean
at Harbourfront Centre - September 20 & 21, 2008

The Sri Lankan Festival – Pearl of the Indian Ocean showcases the Island's colourful history, culture and traditions. Experience legendary Sri Lankan hospitality and get treated to an engaging exhibition of arts and crafts, dance, music, movies, tea sampling, food demos and more! This festival, programmed by members of Toronto's Sri Lankan community, takes place at Harbourfront Centre on September 20 and 21, 2008. Events are free and for all ages.

Program highlights include four film screenings by some of Sri Lanka's top directors and many of these films have won international awards and acclaim. Known for some the hottest (spiciest) food in the world, multiple island food demos display the variety of offerings available as well as the rich flavour and aroma of Ceylon tea. Visual arts exhibits highlight traditional works and Sri Lanka's leadership in the production of quality art using batik and coir (coconut fibre) processes. Demonstrations in Ayurvedic healing practice and meditation highlight the island's holistic traditions. A dance showcase, youth fashion show and ticketed music event showcasing the island's Baila traditions are featured throughout the weekend alongside an arts and crafts market housing 15 vendors from across Toronto.

Featured Events Include:

DANCE of Sri Lanka – Colourful costumes and powerful percussion complement works that are graceful yet vigorous. Performed by Toronto's Lathika's Dance Troupe (September 21, 2:30 p.m. only), Pushpa's Dance Troupe, Malay Dance Troupe, and Chandni’s School of Dance (September 20, 3 to 4 p.m., Lakeside Terrace).

FILM – Showcasing some of the best in Sri Lankan cinema (September 20: 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and September 21: 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., Studio Theatre).

Aganthukaya (The Outcast), directed by Vasantha Obeysekara (100 minutes, 2007)
Based on a true incident experienced by a veteran director, the story (featuring Saumya Liyange, Chandani Seneveratne and Sanath Gunathilake) revolves round a school principal who was transferred to a national school in a far flung area as a political punishment. Through his dedication and perseverance the principal develops the school with impressive academic results.

Mille Soya (In Search of Wealth), written and directed by Boodee Keerthisena (110 minutes, 2004 )
This film won the Presidential Film Awards (Sri Lanka’s most prestigious cinema prize) for best feature, best direction and best editing. The poignant story explores the social difficulties confronting a group of poor village youth from Sri Lanka struggling for a better life through their love of Bob Marley and their desire to become a famous band. Performances by Mahendra Perera, Sangeetha Weeraratne, Kamal Addararachchi, and Linton Semage. More info at

Sankranthi (The Tender Trap) by Anuruddha Jayasinghe (80 minutes, 2006)
The film revolves around a primatologist, his young wife and young assistant – their inner lives and thoughts being different to what they are and what they project outwardly. The film cleverly plays on the undeniable similarities between humans and primates through performances by W. Jayasiri, Sangeetha Weeraratne, Bimal Jayakody in the main cast with Hemasiri Liyanage, Giraraj Kaushalya and Seetha Kumarasinghe.

Ponmani (Younger Sister) by Dharmasena Pathiraja (1978)
Pathiraja's only Tamil language film is about a starkly different socio-economic culture and political climate. Set in the northern city of Jaffna, it traces the fortunes and concerns of an economically depleted upper caste, lower middle class family. An evocative film about land, women, romance and tragedy, narrated in an idiom of understatement. More info at

Documentaries: Travel to Sri Lanka – A Beautiful Paradise
(September 20, 1 to 10 p.m. and September 21, 1 to 6 p.m., Marilyn Brewer Community Space.)
Discover Sri Lanka's climate, scenic beaches, historical sites, tourist attractions and more through a series of documentaries. Offerings include The Proud History of Ancient Sri Lanka, Under Water Sri Lanka Explorations, Kandy Perahara (Procession), Wild Life of Sri Lanka and Sigiriya (8th Wonder of the World).

FOOD Demonstrations – Four demos will showcase the variety and vitality of Sri Lankan cuisine. Highlights include hoppers (appa) – these thin, cup-shaped pancakes are the most popular breakfast dish in Sri Lanka. Made from a fermented batter of rice flour, coconut milk and a dash of palm toddy, they are crisp on the outside, yet soft and spongy in the centre. There are several types of hoppers: plain hoppers, egg hoppers, milk hoppers, and sweeter varieties like vanduappa and paniappa. All demos take place at the Lakeside Terrace. A hopper demo with Chef Chandrika Tilakaratne, recognized by the Sri Lanka-Canada Friendship Association, Edmonton, for her contributions as a community event organizer and provider of high quality cuisine, takes place on September 20 at 1 p.m.; and a lawariya (steamed rice-stick rolls with sweet coconut filling) demo at will happen at 5 p.m.

Chef Sarath Wijerama, who has over 20 years of experience in diverse cooking and specializes in pastry, boulangerie and hot kitchen, will demonstrate konda kavum (sweet cake) on September 21 at 1 p.m.; and Chef Santhanam Balachandran, renowned for the authentic Indian and Sri Lankan dishes served up by his catering company, will give a pani boondi (sweet balls) demo at 3 p.m. Food caterers and restaurants such as Janaki Colombo Caterers and Lanka Gardens Inc. will have food for purchase (September 20 from noon to midnight and September 21 from noon to 6 p.m., Lakeside Terrace Tent).

Ceylon Tea Sampling – Taste some of the world’s finest teas! Sri Lanka’s teas are produced mainly from bushes that grow 4,000 feet above sea level. These bushes grow more slowly in the cool, misty climate, giving the tea a rich, distinctive flavour (September 20, noon to 9 p.m. and September 21, 1 to 6 p.m., Lakeside Terrace Tent).

VISUAL ARTS - Creative Images of Lanka – Visual arts exhibition of crafts, batik and coir curated by Laurette Wijetunga: See traditional arts and crafts from different regions of Sri Lanka using age-old techniques, tools and natural indigenous materials. Included are: brass works; silverware; reed, rush, bamboo and rattan-ware; coir (coconut fibre) products; dumbara mats; lacquer-ware; masks and batik textiles (September 20, noon to 10 p.m., and September 21, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Marilyn Brewer Community Space).

Sri Lankan Arts & Craft Market – More than 15 Sri Lankan vendors offer a variety of crafts, wares, and more to choose from (September 20, noon to 9 p.m. and September 21, 1 to 6 p.m., York Quay Centre).

MUSIC - Ticketed Event:

Baila Night featuring Sri Lankan Super Star Corrine and The Skylines ($20 admission, September 20, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Brigantine Room).
The music by Toronto-based six-member indie band The Skylines is influenced by rock, reggae, hip-hop, classical and ethnic Sinhalese music. The militaristic precision of Kushmin’s drumming, the smooth voice of Shanaka, the amazing harmonies of Marlon, the fast and heavy riffs of Rahal, the beautiful melodies of Jeevantha, and the tight bass lines of Harsha make The Skylines a truly unique experience.

More Activities:

Musical Event & Fashion Extravaganza featuring Sri Lankan Traditional Costumes – This fashion show features costumes from the various regions of Sri Lanka, spanning fashion trends from the modern era to ancient traditional styles of sarees including the Kandyan saree and Indian saree, still popular today (September 21, 2 to 4 p.m., Brigantine Room) ..

Sri Lankan Ayurvedic Remedies – This demo by Dr. Rajasekar Athiappan shows how natural plants, herbs and oils combine to form traditional Ayurveda medicine. Used by over 75 per cent of the island’s population, Ayurveda has been known to generations of Sri Lankans for over 3,000 years for treating the root causes of illness in both mind and body (September 20, 6 to 7 p.m., Miss Lou’s Room).

The Power of Meditation – Join Bhikkhu Saranapala, Buddhist Chaplain to the University of Toronto, and learn how to benefit from meditation sessions in order to overcome stress and find inner peace. Get tips on how to develop a peaceful and positive mental state. Buddhism (called Theravada in Sri Lanka) has been a cornerstone of Sri Lankan civilization from ancient times and focuses on the philosophy of living a simple life as a way of understanding the workings of the mind (September 20, 2 to 3 p.m. and 3:30 to 4:30 pm; September 21 1:30 to 2:30 pm, Miss Lou’s Room).

Family Arts & Crafts – Sri Lankan lantern making workshop: September 20 only, 1 to 3 p.m., Studio Lab #2.

Club Pearl – Youth event with DJ: September 20 only, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Lakeside Terrace.

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Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto. For information the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit

Media Contacts:
Shane Gerard (416-973-4518 or
Anna Camara (416-973-4397 or
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