Former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara became the first-ever sportsman to be honoured and felicitated at Kamban Vizha (a prestigious Tamil cultural festival) for his exceptional and exemplary service and for doing his country proud.
Star southpaw Sangakkara, awarded the K. Vijayapalan memorial award, joined an elite and exclusive list of award winners and honourees, including Indian musical maestro S.P. Balasubramaniam, who shared the same stage.
Sangakkara, was the lone local honouree, to receive a standing ovation, at the closing ceremony of the four-day festival, that concluded at the Wellawatte Ramakrishna Mission, on Tuesday.
Four other locals were also felicitated and awarded.
The 42-year-old in his acceptance address said, “Vanakkam (Greetings in Tamil). Please pardon my inability to speak in Tamil. This is a wonderful privilege, wonderful invitation and as I realise I do not even deserve to be on the same stage, with these great gentlemen of importance. I’m humbled by the opportunity given to me.”
The darling of the crowd urged, to live by the golden rule not to do unto others as they do unto us, but do unto others as you would’ve have them do unto to you ‘so that with our lives, with that example, we birth in each other a desire for a greater and a common good where there is no room for exclusivity or suspicion but we are united and harmonious in our diversity’.
“Of all before us, who have passed the door of darkness through, not one returns to tell us of the road, which to discover, we must travel, too. The path be one of love of service and stewardship. Service and stewardship is the greatest form of inspiration and leadership, that we can all leave behind where we own nothing; but responsible for everything and everyone. We are caretakers of each other’s, our country, our resources and our society’s. Without ownership or social or political bias,” he said in his resonating remarks.
Drawing a quote from Irish poet, Oscar Wilde, Sangakkara said, “‘The artist at all times educates the critic’. Let all of us be artists in the field of humanity and humanness living, so that we through our lives show the world the greatest values that make truly human and truly united. Together through that, we can educate our critics and change the destiny of not only our country, but our children and theirs.”
Singing sensation Balasubramaniam, speaking specially in English for his fellow awardee, addressed him as one of the “finest of ambassadors for country and cricket. I’m elated. After music its cricket, I’ve watched most of your matches.”
“Your one of the rarest cricketers in the world, behind-the-wickets, in front of the wickets, near the boundary line, as a captain and more than anything, as a person. You might ask, how do you know as a person, who I am? I’ve lots of friends in your ilankai (Sri Lankan) cricket team, who talk very high about you, sir. It is not necessary somebody should give a certificate about. When you watch a person sing, play or act, you know what sort of personality he has got,” Subramanian hailed the local hero.
Kamban Kalakam, a Tamil organization founded to promote Ramayana of Tamil poet Kambar annually stages this celebrated festival and honours artist from various fields, who have scaled the heights in service.