Lyceum International School Nugegoda hosted the first "Gunguru Pooja Festival", making it the first international school in Sri Lanka to do so for its dancing students. The ceremony was held at the Manikka Pillayar Kovil in Wellawatte recently. Present at the event were Ms. Navya Singla, the Second Secretary (Development Cooperation and Press, Information & Culture) of the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka, representing the High Commissioner as the Chief Guest; the Principal - Lyceum Nugegoda, Mr. Rajiv Ekanayake; Registrar - Lyceum Nugegoda, Ms. Wathsala Senanayake; Head of Cultural Dancing, Ms. Nisha Kotelawala; Senior Lecturer of Visual and Performing Arts University, Mr. Rasika Kothalawala; and Director of Education (Aesthetics) at the Ministry of Education, Dr. Nishad Handunpathirana.
Cultural Dancing teachers, management, and parents were also in attendance. The "Gunguru Pooja Festival" is a significant tradition that marks the transformation of an amateur dancer into a more established one by wearing the ‘Gejji,' which consists of tiny bells usually attached to velvet straps tied around the ankles. As per the traditional requirements, the ceremony began with a puja to the God Shiva, followed by the ‘Gejji Bandawa’ ceremony, where 14 Gurus who themselves have received the gejji tied the bells around the 14 new gejji bearers' ankles.
Mr. Rasika Kothalawala, the Chief Advisor of Cultural Dancing at Lyceum International Schools, gave a speech explaining the importance of the ceremony and expressing his pride in the school for organizing such a wonderful event and providing students with this opportunity. The newly gejji-clad young dancers then received blessings from the teachers and parents before they began their dance performances. In her speech, Chief Guest Ms. Navya Singla stated, "Today’s event is evidence of the long-standing connection between India and Sri Lanka.
Kathak, a classical dance form from Mother India, performed so impeccably by the students of Sri Lanka, tells the story of our unbreakable bonds. From the Gods to the Guru to the parents, to the henna in their hands, and the details in their costumes, it’s amazing how you brought the typical Indian rituals here and performed them in this Kovil. India and Sri Lanka share a legacy of historical, cultural, spiritual, and linguistic ties that is more than 2500 years old. Our relationship draws its strength from these interconnected values and cultures, forming the foundation of the limitless possibilities of our shared future.
The strength of our relationship has been demonstrated in the recent past with India’s unprecedented support to Sri Lanka, helping the country overcome economic challenges, and we tirelessly continue to work towards building on this strength further. Cultural events like this play a crucial role in strengthening ties between our two nations." Being a first for International Schools and a first for Lyceum International School, the Cultural Dancing department aims to continue organizing more of such traditional ceremonies/events. The School places great significance on culture and traditions and believes in instilling the importance of Sri Lanka’s multicultural values in its students.