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Celebrating culture through poetry at the House of Lords

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Published: 26 April 2024

Chandeera at World Poetry Day

On 26 March, World Poetry Day, University of Sunderland in London colleagues, Ragasudha Vinjamuri and Dr Chandeera Gunawardene, shared linguistic insight and read their own poetic works at a cultural celebration hosted by Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Dholakia. 

Marking the 25th year of UNESCO’s World Poetry Day, speakers of 20 different languages gathered at the House of Lords for an evening of poems, songs and dance centered on the theme of water.  

At the event, Dr Chandeera Gunawardena, Personal Academic Tutor, read his poem - written in his native Sinhala language - focusing on the role of water in supporting animals and mankind alike. Chandeera, who holds a doctorate in linguistics, also gave a short introduction to Sinhala, one of the main Sri Lankan languages. 

Chandeera at World Poetry Day

“…the rivers of the Earth, like lifelines coursing through the planet's veins, stand as guardians for mankind and animals alike. When rivers cease to flow, cracks emerge; all that's left is to hope until rain clouds arrive.” -  extract from Chandeera’s poem. 

Organised by Ragasudha Vinjamuri, Associate Lecturer and Founder of Sanskruti Centre for Cultural Excellence and in association with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages, the event represented an important opportunity to showcase the university and its strong cultural diversity.  

Ragasudha also shared her own poem written in Telugu, one India’s many languages and with over ninety million speakers. Reflecting the fact that World Water Day took place only a few days before the event, her poem covered the topic of water conversation.  

Participants also expressed their thanks to the event host, Lord Navnit Dholakia - Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.  

“It was a unique experience to present at the House of Lords and be part of such a rich cultural exchange. I was proud to represent the University alongside Ragasudha and demonstrate our inclusive and diverse culture.” - Dr Chandeera Gunawardena, Personal Academic Tutor (PAT)