Feature Article

Colombo’s heritage minister sees ‘multi-religious’ institutes in Trinco, Mannaar

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 December 2010, 22:55 GMT]
Hindu temples like Thirukeatheesvaram in Maanthai, Mannaar and Thirukoa’neasvaram in Trincomalee were identified as multi-religious institutes and steps were being taken to name them as World Heritage sites, said Colombo’s National Heritage Minister Jagath Balasuriya, addressing officials of the five departments under him and media in his ministry Tuesday, according to Daily News. Colombo is yet to declare the Dalada Maligawa complex in Kandy where temples for Siva, Vishnu, Murukan, Ka’n’naki and also Dadi Mu’nda are found as a multi-religious institute. There are a large number of sites in the south, such as Devinuvara (Dondra Head) waiting to be declared as multi-religious institutes.

The minister wanted to canvass for funds from foreign countries as well as donors to carryout his plans.

He was addressing the officials of the departments of Archaeology, Archives, Museum, Galle Heritage and Janakala Centre under his ministry.

None of these departments have Tamil officials in them. These departments were never multi-ethnic or multi-religious.

The minister jumping at declaring the two pivotal Tamil-Saiva heritage sites as ‘multi-religious’ institutes has sinister ideas of Sinhalicisation of the two places, said academic circles in Jaffna and Trincomalee.

The multi-religious heritage was never acceptable to the Sri Lankan state that sees the island as a promised land of the Buddhists.

Some of the multi-religious centres like Kathirkaamam (Kataragama) and Sivano’lipaatha Malai (Adam’s Peak) have become predominantly Sinhala-Buddhist in the last half a century.

Buddhist structures obscuring the Saiva temple have been built recently in Trincomalee. Buddhist temples are also being built at Madu Road to check both the Saiva centre at Thirukeatheesvaram and the Catholic centre at Madu.

Saiva temples are systematically destroyed and historical images in the sanctums are missing in the military occupied North and East. The scenario reminds the colonial times of the Portuguese and the Dutch.

The Colombo minister’s briefings come after some Indian officials promising help to Colombo in carrying out certain schemes related to the Saiva temples at Mannaar and Trincomalee.

“The Sri Lankan state has no authority and no morality to lead any heritage programme in the land of the Tamils. No foreign country should help Colombo in the camouflaged genocide of Tamils,” voiced a lawyer in Trincomalee.

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