The local Sri Lankan community at Minnesota State University, Mankato held their first signature night, called “Abhimanaya” over the weekend. Abhimanaya translates to ‘the pride of Sri Lanka’.
The event was organized by the MavLankans, a Recognized Student Organization compromising of Sri Lankans at MNSU. The authentic Sri Lankan tea in pots on every table showed the depth the students went into making sure the night was memorable for the attendees at the event Saturday, Feb. 15.
The hosts of the event announced that last year, Sri Lanka was named the top tourist destination by Lonely Planet, a travel guide book. They then played a detailed and vibrant video that showcased their culture, as well as sceneries of the country.
Enushka Beruwelage, the event coordinator of Abhimanaya, spent weeks on planning for the event to deliver a stellar experience for the audience. “We had about a month to plan this whole night, and we are [around] 25 students from Sri Lanka so that makes it even harder,” Beruwelage said. “So everyone is involved in everything willingly and that makes it a bit easier.”
Some of the members of MavLankans also put together a fashion show that highlighted a variety of cultural outfits. Along with participants from MNSU, Sri Lankan students attending St. Cloud State University also performed a traditional dance act at the event.
Pamal Wanigasighe, a graduate student and a member of MavLankans, was proud of the show the local Sri Lankan community put together. “We normally have our annual Sri Lankan dinner where we cook a delicious traditional meal,” said Wanigasighe. “This year we got the permission and funds from the [Kearney Center] for a signature night.”
The students spent many sleepless nights creating the decorations for the event, with the main decoration being an “evil mask” which dates back to the 1800s. They were used to portray various characters in popular folk tales and for the “devil dancing”.
“It’s always such a great feeling when you get to represent your culture on a stage in front of hundreds of people,” Wanigasighe said.
To end the night, the president of MavLankans, Malitha Salpadoru, talked about how the food stole the show and the detailed decorations made the best impressions on the guests. “With the support of our all MavLankans members, we were able to achieve this great night,” Salpadoru said.
He hopes for an even bigger celebratory signature night for Sri Lanka next year.
Header photo: Students perform cultural dances during the Sri Lanka Signature Night held in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 in Mankato, Minn. (Prasad Pol/MSU Reporter)