Sinhalese Buddhist priest appointed as archaeological curator for Jaffna

[TamilNet, Saturday, 10 October 2009, 12:45 GMT]
Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse has appointed Rev. Warapitiya Rahula Thero as the curator for archaeological artifacts in Jaffna peninsula in an attempt to fabricate evidence to show the Sinhalese masses and the outer world that traces of Buddhism in Jaffna peninsula are exclusively Sinhalese, sources in Jaffna said. Rev. Rahula Thero will be working from an office that is to be soon built in the ‘Old Park’ located next to Jaffna Secretariat. Jaffna Museum which had lain neglected for more than 30 years and looted during successive Sri Lanka Army (SLA) offensives on the peninsula is to be relocated to the new archaeological department in Old Park where Rev. Rahula Thero will go into action following in the footsteps of the successive Sinhalese regimes which have tried to rewrite the history of Sri Lanka in favour of Sinhalese Buddhists, the sources added.

The appointment of a Sinhalese Buddhist priest as archaeological curator to Jaffna under the Ministry of Social Services is a thinly veiled attempt to debilitate any traces ancient archaeological artifacts of the ancient Tamils, as it had been the prime motive of all the majority Sinhalese governments that had ruled Sri Lanka after independence, the sources further said.

Archaeology department officials of Sri Lanka, all of them Sinhalese, visited Jaffna recently showing interest in the ‘monuments’ in the peninsula, ostensibly to invite ‘tourist attraction’ for the ‘development’ of Jaffna, but actually on an agenda of cultural genocide, an academic in Jaffna said.

The most important archaeological site, Kantharoadai in the peninsula, is of Megalithic origins dating back to c. 1000 BCE, as revealed in an excavations conducted by the Pennsylvania University in the 1960s. It was one of the earliest urban centres of the island, parallel to Anuradhapura, interacting far and wide with the outside world. The megalithic culture is widely acknowledged as an expression of Dravidian civilization in South India and in the island of Sri Lanka.

The subsequent Buddhist phase of the site is a unique manifestation in concept and architecture, significantly different from the south of the island and is often recognized as a heritage of Tamil Buddhism. This heritage of Jaffna is identified as one that is closely associated with the genre of Buddhism found mentioned in the Tamil Buddhist epic Ma’nimeakalai of the early centuries of the Common Era.

Several organizations in Jaffna had requested the different governments in the last 30 years to renovate Jaffna Museum that lay neglected but none of them had cared to do so.

The appointment of Rev. Warapitiya Rahula Thero now is seen as an obvious act to crush the aspirations of the Tamils to be the rulers of their traditional homelands in the North, the sources further said.


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