US ambassador Julie Chung visited Kandy this week to preside over events marking two milestones in the long-standing support by the United States to preserving Sri Lanka’s diverse cultural heritage.
Yesterday (14), ambassador Chung and vice chancellor of the University of Peradeniya Prof. M.D. Lamawansa held a closing ceremony for a US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) project that documented and preserved four traditional ritual dance forms and related crafts.
The $116,000 grant, initiated in 2016, supported the university’s effort to preserve and to share the performing arts traditions of upcountry Kandyan Kohomba Kankariya dance, Northern and Eastern Tamil Koothu dance drama, Adivasi rituals and cultural practices from Eastern Province, and a dance-drama rituals and performance from the Kolam tradition in Southern Province.
Recordings of these intangible forms of Sri Lanka’s heritage are now archived under the Department of Fine Arts, Faculty of Arts of the University of Peradeniya.
Today, ambassador Chung and Director General of Archeology Prof. Anura Manatunga officially launched a new project, a partnership between the United States and the Sri Lanka Department of Archeology.
The $265,000 grant will support the conservation of the Old Kandyan Kings’ Palace and fund upgrades to the Archaeology Museum in the Kings’ Palace located within the Sacred Temple of the Tooth complex.
The conservation of these elements of the UNESCO World Heritage Site will provide future generations of students, scholars, Sri Lankans, and tourists the ability to view and continue to learn about the history of the ancient Kingdom of Kandy.
Since 2001, AFCP has funded 14 projects in Sri Lanka, including the conservation of the Rajagala Buddhist forest monastery, the preservation of Buddhist, Hindu, and other collections in the Anuradhapura Archaeological Museum, and the restoration of the Batticaloa Dutch Fort.