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Freedom: Above all

Independence Day of Sri Lanka is celebrated on 4th of February each year, commemorating the attainment of political independence from British Empire on that day in 1948.

The island was first captured by a Western power in 1505 when the costal area of the country was invaded by Portuguese. Since then, our motherland had been under the rule of Portuguese, Dutch and British for many centuries where the locals were discriminated and the resources were exploited for the betterment of those Western nations. However, until 1815 the Kandyan Kingdom remained independent despite numerous attempts by the foreign rulers to take the entire island into their control.

Internal power struggles among Kandyan rulers and conspiracies led by power-hungry local chiefs helped British strategically conquer Kandyan Kingdom, with the signing of Kandyan Convention in March 1815. With this, the entire Sri Lanka became a colony of British Empire leading to many political and social consequences.

The British administration challenged the freedom of citizens with harsh laws which soon caused a widespread dissatisfaction and unpopularity leading to struggles against colonial power. These rebels were led by national heroes such as Veera Puran Appu, Kappetipola Nilame and Gongalegoda Banda. However, these steps towards independence in Sri Lanka were suppressed with great severity where the lives of many local heroes were lost in the battle.

While Sri Lankans continuously fought with the British forces for independence, the colonial powers maintained their rule controlling the economy and the society of the country. Since early 20th century, the intellectuals together with various organizations started to seek independence in a more organized and strategic manner, guiding the common masses to raise their voices against imperial rule. S. Mahinda Thero, Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, A.E. Gunasinghe, F.R. Senanayake, E.W. Perera are some of the notable leaders of this independence movement. Following many transitional steps and political changes, Sri Lanka was able to gain independence from Britain on 4th February 1948.

The Independence Day of Sri Lanka is a great national occasion that promotes the ideas of patriotism and national unity in the minds of people. This day is marked with many celebrations across the island with events such as hoisting the national flag, singing the national anthem and cultural programmes.

Even after many decades of winning independence from British rule, Sri Lanka has a long way to go in terms of economic prosperity and social well-being of its people. Being a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, unity among these diverse communities is a vital factor for the development of Sri Lanka. Free thinking, innovative ideas, patriotism and national pride can transform our Lanka into a heaven on earth where every citizen can live peacefully without any hostilities.

So, let us give true meaning to the independence in Sri Lanka by contributing to the national peace and development as we salute all the heroes including the fallen and disabled war-heros of the thirty-year war, because they have sacrificed immensely in the name of our motherland.

Happy Independence Day!