The six-day Children's Film Festival saw children from neighbouring countries also take part.

It was not only a very special birthday, but also a most memorable day in the life of two children from Sri Lanka — Himeth Kodikara and Taraka Kirindu — as they got to spend it in a new country with new friends at the National Children's Film Festival in Dharwad.

Celebrations

Their birthday was on November 16, which also happened to be the day the National Children's Festival got under way in Dharwad. The two children were in India to take part in the fest along with their friends and teachers. Both Himeth and Taraka cut a cake while everyone sang and wished them a Happy Birthday. Himeth is studying in Std III in Colombo and Taraka is studying in Std V in Gala district.

Their excitement grew as the people gathered at the programme greeted them. Taraka and Himeth said it was the first time they had celebrated their birthday away from home in a new country with new people. National Youth Project convenor and Gandhian S. N. Subba Rao, NYP trustee Gurdev Singh Sidhu, Children activist Shanker Halagatti and others blessed the children on the occasion.

Himeth said he had heard about India as a big neighbouring country with diverse culture and extreme climates and where Buddha was born. He read about India in his books and his parents had told him many things including the tales of Vishnu and Rama. He also knew a lot about Buddha and his life. Though Taraka could not speak much, her joy was evident.

At home

Moreover, they are excited to see India about which they had only read in their text books. Himeth said he felt at home as the climate, trees and new friends made him happy and comfortable. In fact he wished to remain friends with all the kids he met there even after leaving for his country. As many as 1,500 children from 22 states and two countries —Nepal and Sri Lanka— took part in the Children's Festival, which was held recently. The programme venue R. N. Shetty Stadium wore a colourful look all the six days with the children taking part in different activities. The children enjoyed every bit of it.