Daham Sirisena entered wedded life last week. I believe most, if not all, citizens, will join me in wishing the newly wedded couple happiness, joy and wedded bliss in the years to come.
Daham is no ordinary person. He is the youngest child and only son of Maithripala Sirisena, the President of the Republic and first citizen of the country.
At least, in theory, elected Presidents are supposed to be sensitive to the feelings and moods of their citizens. They are required to share both the joys and sorrows of their subjects.
The wedding initially scheduled to be held at the Shangri-La Hotel on May 9, was hurriedly moved to the Colombo Hilton. The original venue was closed for business due to extensive damage resulting from bombings on Easter Sunday. Five Star ballrooms in Colombo are generally booked for weddings 12 to 18 months in advance.
However, on this occasion, the Colombo Hilton Ballroom, the second or third most sought after function room for weddings in the country, was miraculously found available to hire less than three weeks before the event.
Even though the guest count is a well-guarded secret, the ballroom and foyer had been used for accommodating the guests.
A lavish Eastern and Western food buffets were spread out in the mini-function rooms located on the side of the foyer. All types of foreign liquor and Champagne, beautiful floral décor, Tiffany chairs, the most expensive brand on hire, and a dance floor with the popular dance band Marians in attendance completed the arrangements.
Guests had to surrender their mobile phones before entering the venue.
It was but 18 days earlier that suicide bombers took the lives of 254 locals and foreigners, including over 40 children, besides leaving nearly 800 injured. The country is yet to return to normalcy. Many are those still grieving the loss of their loved ones.
Against such a backdrop, the first citizen sees it fit to hold the wedding reception of his son on a grand scale with little or no consideration for his grieving fellow citizens.
The marriage should not have been postponed. The Head of State had to send a clear message to the perpetrators of the massacre; the nation will not bow down to terrorism.
However, any leader, with an iota of compassion would have opted to register the marriage and hold the reception after a decent mourning period of at least three months.
Does he still expect citizens to vote for him at the upcoming Presidential elections?
When 6.2 million voters of this country voted for Pallewatte Gamaralalage Maithripala Yapa Sirisena for President in January 2015, they believed he was a son of the soil and a people’s candidate. They thought he would better understand and empathize with the common man. Four years on, they know they have been taken for a ride once again.
By celebrating his son’s wedding on such a grand scale, less than three weeks after the Easter Sunday carnage and resulting loss of lives, the President has added callousness to his already bloated list of negative traits.