Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Sri Lankan Student Association hosts Sihanada Night

Friday, March 31, 2017

Picture this, you just finished working a 12-hour shift in Sri Lanka. You’re walking home when your stomach grumbles, reminding you how long it’s been since you last ate. Before you see it or smell it, you hear it: the beat and rhythm of a street chef chopping up a classic Sri Lankan dish, Kottu.

Kottu is a dish with many ingredients, including chopped tortilla strips, chicken, eggs, onions and oil. Thanks to the students of the Sri Lankan Student Association at Southeast Missouri State University, those in attendance at Sihanada Night didn’t have to travel across the globe to try this dish.

The fifth annual Sihanada Night was held Friday night at Centenary United Methodist Church. The event featured traditional song and dance, speeches, raffle giveaways and a made-from-scratch Sri Lankan dinner.

Along with Kottu, the dinner featured fried and white rice, chicken curry, devil chicken, cashew and peas curry, green beans and jelly and ice cream for dessert.

Centenary member and volunteer for international student affairs Laura Law said members of the Sri Lankan Student Association spent several hours chopping, cooking and preparing the meal for Sihanada Night.

“I would like to thank my food crew,” Pragathi Madushinie said. “We cooked more than 12 dishes today.”

Madushinie is the president of the Sri Lankan Student Association. Madushinie said the association has been working on this event since last semester.

Before the first activities of the night began, a moment of silence was held in remembrance of the late Dhanushka Maramage, who was a Southeast alumnus and friend to current students.

Following the moment, honored guests, including Southeast president Dr. Carlos Vargas and his wife, Pam, were invited to light the traditional oil lamp. In Sri Lankan culture, it is customary to light an oil lamp at the start of any special event.

“We believe that this ceremony is to acquire merit and avoid evil influences,” emcee Vishanth Henry said when the oil lamp was lit.

Following the lighting of the oil lamp, the Sri Lankan national anthem was sung and traditional songs and dances were performed.

Domestic and international students representing several different parts of the world were in attendance supporting Southeast’s Sri Lankan students as they shared their culture.

“I really like how [Sihanada Night] brings some of Sri Lankan culture to us so we can see how they live,” Brittany Estes said. Estes is seeking a master’s degree in mental health counseling at Southeast.

Tiffany Comfort is the new coordinator of International Student Orientation and Activities at Southeast, as of January.

“I’ve heard that Sri Lankan Night is the best party of them all,” Comfort said. “I couldn’t miss it.”

New to Cape Girardeau from Marquette, Michigan, Comfort has ideas about how to encourage more international organizations to hold their own events like Sihanada Night. Comfort said building relationships among international students of different countries is important because it inspires students to explore different cultures and makes them feel at home in another culture.

For more information on the Sri Lankan Student Association, contact Madushanie at For more information on International Student Orientation and Activities, contact