The Sri Lanka Foundation is celebrating the 12th Annual Sri Lankan Day on Saturday, July 14, at Pasadena City Hall from 10am to 10pm. Celebrating the incredible sights, sounds and flavors of the ancient island nation, Sri Lankan Day Expo is held to entertain and inform those interested in the history and traditions of this Southeastern Asian nation, and to keep those customs alive for immigrants, expatriates, and descendants of Sri Lanka living in Los Angeles.
Thousands of Angelenos turn out annually to enjoy the unique and colorful culture of the Sri Lankan people. And there is much to experience, including traditional dance troupes, a fashion show, musical acts, an exotic food festival, and a “Pageant of Lanka” parade with floats occurring at sunset on Colorado Boulevard. Pop-up booths with sarongs, jewelry, batik, hand loomed textiles, and traditional outfits will also be displayed. Admission is free to the public.
The Sri Lankan Day Expo is organized yearly by the Sri Lanka Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Dr. Walter Jayasinghe M.D., a well-known Sri Lankan-American physician. Dr. Jayasinghe established the Sri Lankan Foundation to inform, celebrate, and promote Sri Lankan culture, and raise money for Sri Lankan humanitarian projects. One of those projects, organized by the foundation in response to the deadly 2004 tsunami that hit the island, sent medical professionals to Sri Lanka to provide immediate medical care, and then helped build housing, schools, an orphanage, and aided small industries in the area.
This year’s festival also kicks off the foundation’s fundraising for an initial capital building project on a much-needed hospital expansion in Colombo, Sri Lanka – the nation’s largest city. Due to the overcrowding of local government hospitals, as well as expensive for-profit hospitals, a large part of the population in the surrounding area are left without proper healthcare… or sometimes any healthcare at all. The Sri Lanka Foundation is looking to expand the current medical center of 22 beds to a 150-bed hospital to accommodate the pressing demand for affordable, modern healthcare. This facility will be the first non-profit hospital in the region and will use modern American medicine to ensure patients receive the best medical care available.
This annual celebration of Sri Lankan culture underscores their thriving community within Los Angeles, with many first-generation immigrants coming to a city known for its diversity, love, and respect for races and nationalities of all types. Many of the Sri Lankan people in the United States are young, with 20% of the population under 18, and all have a high level of education, with 45% of them holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.