Candlelight vigil held for victims of Sri Lanka bombing

Students and staff honor those affected by terrorist attack in front of CSU

Maria Ly
Staff Writer

The Sri Lankan and Minnesota State University, Mankato community gathered together in a candlelight vigil service held for the victims of the Easter Sunday bombings. 

The service took place this past Tuesday night on the Centennial Student Union lawn near the fountain.

The breeze whispered as the moonlight shone on the Centennial Student Union lawn, but despite the weather, an unrest was in the air due to the recent Easter bombings in Sri Lanka. Students gathered with candles in hand, some with sympathy in their faces others with disbelief and heartbreak. Together they spelled out “Pray for Sri Lanka” on the lawn and stood around in a circle, candles shining brightly illuminating the grassy area. 

Students and community members, with candles in hand, stood in silence as they commemorated the victims. 

Shamini Abeykoon, a Sri Lankan student, started the service as she thanked the audience for coming to the vigil.

She stated, “I don’t think anything I say is going to heal our wounded hearts at this point, because we live in fear and not being able to be in Sri Lanka with our families is not easy for us. We are here to mourn the loss of 320 innocent souls and to pray for recovery of the wounded which is about 500 as of yet and counting. Once again, I would like to end this by thanking each and every one of you. Having you here is a great strength for us to get through these dark times.”

Salinda Jayaweera, another Sri Lankan student, gave another heartfelt speech about the grief he and his community will face in this time of tragedy. He talked about his wishes of this event never taking place as his condolences goes out to the victims. 

With a hand to his heart and fervor in his voice he stated, “To the ones who have attacked our lovely nation, we have a message for you: You have taken our hotels, but you will never take our hospitality. You have taken our churches, but you will never take away our values, generosity, or kindness. You have taken away our people, but you will never take away our humanity, because Sri Lanka is not just a hotel, church, or a person, it is all of us, and you will never take that from us. We recovered from the tsunami 15 years ago, we recovered from a 30 year civil war, and we will most definitely recover from this tragedy.”

Enushka Beruwelage, the president of the Sri Lankan student organization, MavLankans, also spoke about the tragic losses Sri Lanka faced on Easter Sunday.

He talked about the civil war on terrorism, the peaceful nature of Sri Lanka destroyed, and the 321 innocent civilians and the 500 injured.

With sorrow laced in his voice he talked about his fellow people in Sri Lanka fearing for their lives as they stay wide awake in case of another attack. 

He ended his speech with a downcast look, “Our prayers are with the deceased and their families. May all of them find solace during this disaster.” 

“We as Sri Lankans will fight terrorism with full force just as we once did before and delete it from our motherland forever. Let each of these candles be a prayer for the victims in the chain of bombs in Sri Lanka,” he ended

The vigil ended with a moment of silence followed by the Sri Lankan national anthem.

The breeze flowed through the air, with some students bowing their heads in prayer, some looking onward in sympathy and clutching their candles as the music played overhead. 

After, students and community members placed their candles in a circle as they mourned the loss of the victims of the Easter bombings. 

May Sri Lanka power through this great loss as they find strength in one another. As the Sri Lankan national anthem stated, “In wisdom and strength renewed. Ill-will, hatred, strife all ended. In love enfolded, a mighty nation. Marching onward, all as one.”

Header photo by John Shrestha | MSU Reporter.

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