Devotees barred from attending Hindu festival
[TamilNet, Friday, 12 February 1999, 07:39 GMT]
Army Head Quarters in Palaly had informed the chief priest of the Keerimalai Naguleswarar temple yesterday that no devotees will be allowed to go to Keerimalai from other parts of the peninsula to observe religious rights on Sunday the Mahasivarathri day.
The SLA had notified that a limited number of devotees would be allowed to go to the temple only on the following day (Monday) to observe fasting and to participate in 'poojas' to mark the Mahasivarathri.
Army officials have said that these steps have been taken for security reasons.
Security forces have asked the Hindu devotees who plan to go to Keerimalai on Monday to go through the checkpoints at Senthaankulam and Tellipalai.
Sources in Jaffna said that last year during the Mahasivarathri day a large number of Hindu devotees including representatives of Tamil Political parties were allowed to go to Keerimalai.
However, this year the management of the temple had informed the public that due to renovation of the temple they are unable to accommodate a large number of Hindu devotees as they did last year.
Mahasivarathri, which is an important religious day for Hindus, is observed with fasting and special 'poojas' throughout the night.
Traditionally Mahasivarathri day has been a public holiday for all Sri Lankans but from 1998 the PA government limited the holiday to Hindus only.