As part of continued U.S. support for the preservation of Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage, the Embassy of the United States of America has awarded a grant to the University of Peradeniya to document and preserve four traditional ritual dance forms and related crafts.
“We are proud to partner with the University of Peradeniya in its mission to safeguard the rich diversity of cultural practices across Sri Lanka,” said U.S. Ambassador Atul Keshap. “Working together, we can help ensure that future generations in Sri Lanka can also experience these important aspects of their cultural heritage.”
The Rs. 16.7 million ($115,000) grant will support the university’s Department of Fine Arts to preserve and to share the following performing arts traditions: 1) upcountry Kandyan Kohomba Kankariya dance, 2) Northern and Eastern Tamil Koothu dance drama, 3) Adivasi ritual and cultural practices from Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa districts, and 4) a southern dance-drama ritual performance from the Kolam tradition in Matara.
The Department of Fine Arts will document these unique dance forms on video, along with their accompanying texts and material artifacts like drums and costumes. Once concluded, the project will result in an archive of fully-accessible records under the management of the Arts Council at the University of Peradeniya. For public and online reference, shorter videos narrated in both English and vernacular languages will be available on the internet with links in the University’s Arts Council and Fine Arts Department websites.
This award was made under the auspices of the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), a U.S. State Department program created in 2001 to support the preservation of cultural sites, material objects, and other forms of cultural expression in more than 100 developing countries around the world. Since the inception of the AFCP in Sri Lanka in 2005, Embassy Colombo has supported 12 preservation projects totaling approximately Rs. 126 million ($900,000).