Founded in 1973, the Sri Lanka America Association of Southern California (SLAASC) stands as a testament to the resilience and unity of Sri Lankan expatriates. The roots of the Association date back to 1970 when a small group of Sri Lankan immigrants discerned the need for an organization to represent and serve their community.
Distinctively, SLAASC was the first organization of Sri Lankan expatriates formed not only in the United States but likely globally as well. Demonstrating our commitment to democratic values, we remain unique as an organization with democratically elected leaders and committee members.
Over the past 46 years, SLAASC has continually been at the forefront of pioneering efforts, marking several ‘firsts’ in the Sri Lankan community. These achievements include organizing the inaugural Perahera at Echo Park in Los Angeles – a vibrant event featuring a live elephant and broadcasted live on NBC. We also proudly hosted the first Independence Day celebration and Sinhala/Tamil New Year celebration for our community in Southern California.
Our influence extends to policy and government relations as well. SLAASC played a pivotal role in persuading the Sri Lankan Government to establish a Consulate General in Los Angeles, and later, successfully lobbied against its closure.
On the cultural front, the first Sri Lankan music group to perform in California was facilitated by SLAASC in 1989. Held at California State University Dominguez Hills, the performance featured Stanley Pieris, Chitra, and PLA Somapala under the leadership of then SLAASC President Irvin Pieterz, who sadly passed away in 2018. In 1991, under President Vinitha Serasinghe, we invited Stanley Pieris and Kalashuri Latha Walpola to perform with the Band Fortunes in California. Furthermore, SLAASC holds the distinction of being the first to bring the popular Sri Lankan bands ‘Gypsies’ and ‘Marians’ to the United States. This is a succinct history of our cherished SLAASC, an organization that continues to thrive and shape the Sri Lankan community in Southern California.