5th November 2006 marked the 75th birthday of our Founder andPresident, Dr A.T. Ariyaratne. Whilst every birthday is marked withspecial ceremonies, people throughout Sri Lanka joined in a variety of special celebrations to mark this milestone year.
His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse, President of Sri Lanka, voiced the
feelings of millions of Sri Lankans when he addressed a huge audience
from all walks of the Sri Lankan and international communities at the
Felicitation Ceremony at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. In a warm
and highly personal speech, the President said: ‘At a time when men of
goodwill are uncommon, I see in Dr A.T. Ariyaratne a rare example of a
man of goodwill. His name will be etched in history among those great
individuals who serve with immense dedication to improve the lives of
At a time when most social service organisations are
engaged in trying to improve only the material conditions of the
individual, Dr Ariyaratne earns my regards and my respect for his
pioneering efforts to improve both the material and spiritual aspects
of the life of the individual. Dr Ariyaratne is a great philosophical
pathfinder to the people.
The Felicitation Ceremony also gave the opportunity to a number of
religious, political and civil society leaders to express their
congratulations and appreciation and a number of special gifts and
awards were made including special recognition from the Sri Lanka
Foundation Institute. A special birthday song was composed by Saman
Chandrada Weerasinghe especially for the occasion, sung by Asanga
Priyamanthe Peiris. An Exhibition of Dr Ariyaratne’s life story and
Sarvodaya’s work since 1958 was on display and a special film about Dr
A.T. Ariyratne’s life was produced by the renowned Tissa Abeysekara and
was broadcast on Sri Lanka’s ITN television channel.
Throughout Sri Lanka, village communities and Sarvodaya district
offices held special religious and community events to mark the day;
there was a special focus on Shramadana work in rural hospitals
throughout the country. At the headquarters, Pirith was chanted
overnight following by an almsgiving attended by around 500 people
including monks, members of the Ariyaratne family, Sarvodaya
management, workers and volunteers, national and international donors
and a host of foreign visitors.