''Sri Lanka and its cultural and culinary influences have drawn the attention of the world as never before, with the country's tourism industry expanding, and its economy registering fast growth'', stated Tomas Dub, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, opening the Culinary and Cultural Festival of Sri Lanka at Hotel Hilton Old Town Prague on 21 March 2013.
Speaking before a large gathering of Czech Parliamentarians, Ambassadors, and representatives of travel and trade chambers and the media, Deputy Minister Dub complimented the Government of Sri Lanka for the initiative taken to bring out the many facets of the cultural life of the country to the people of the Czech Republic. He further stressed that the event presaged the forthcoming visit of a high level delegation from Sri Lanka to Prague, the launching of a Sri Lanka-Czech Economic Forum on 28 March and the opening of the Elephant Pavilion in Prague on 30 March 2013, where two young elephants from Sri Lanka would be gifted for 'the children of the Czech Republic.’
On arrival at Hotel Hilton, Deputy Minister Dub was greeted by a group of young dancers from Sri Lanka amidst the beating of drums and Sri Lankan music, which captivated the audience. Five episodes of traditional Sri Lankan dance and music followed, interspersed with speeches by the guests and the serving of Sri Lankan delicacies, which included a variety of traditional Sri Lankan food items.
Ambassador Azeez, Sri Lanka's envoy to the Czech Republic, together with the staff of the Sri Lanka Mission in Vienna, welcomed the guests, accompanied by the two chefs, Mr. Selliah Karupan and Mr. Anura Vidana Arachchi. The chefs had been flown from Sri Lanka to the Czech republic specially for this event. The young dancers, 4 girls and 5 boys, from Thakshila Central College, Horana, whose participation at the festival was also sponsored by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, were a star attraction among the guests.
Recalling the two decades old diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the Czech Republic, Ambassador Azeez noted that the event, one of a series planned to be held in the Czech Republic in the near future, has already generated a lot of enthusiasm within the Prague community. He expressed hope that this as well as the other events being planned would help further strengthen the already expanding bilateral ties, in a manner which is mutually beneficial to the peoples of both countries.
The Culinary and Cultural Festival of Sri Lanka, which continues to woo the people of the Czech Republic, will end on 28 March 2013, with a mega cultural show at Hotel Hilton, and move on to Prague Municipal House on 29 March 2013 for a joint Czech- Sri Lanka music and dance performance, accompanied with the exquisite Sri Lankan cuisine. It will peak on 30 March 2013 at the opening of the state-of-the art elephant pavilion built by the Prague Zoo to house the two young elephants gifted by Sri Lanka.
Coinciding with these events, there will be also en exhibition of gem and jewellery, ornamental fish, Ayurvedic products and Sri Lanka handicrafts at the Education Centre of the Prague Zoo from 28-30 March 2013.
Sri Lanka Embassy and Permanent Mission