SL military, Sinhala monk exploit poverty among Tamils in East for religious conversion

[TamilNet, Friday, 05 July 2019, 23:12 GMT]
A Sinhala Buddhist monk, Ven Katugastota Mahindalankara thero, stationed at Mayilang-karaichchi village in Vaazhaich-cheanai, 31 km north of Batticaloa city, has been operating a Theravada Buddhist Dhamma School targeting conversion of poverty-stricken Tamil children into Buddhism since 2014. The Sunday school, named ‘Mahindalangkara Dhamma School’ is functioning at the Buddhist temple called Sri Bodhirajaramaya (also named Sri Mahindarama Viharaya). The monk has also arranged a Sinhala lady teacher, L Sisiliya, to teach Sinhala language to the Tamil children in Mayilang-karaichchi for some years. For the last one month she is also teaching Sinhala at her residence, Tamil rural society activists told TamilNet adding that the Sinhala Buddhist vihara establishment was systematically attracting the poverty-stricken Tamil children at a village where all other facilities remained neglected.

Mayilan-karachchi Vihara
[Photo courtesy: Lukshanthan Kulandivel, Google Earth Photos, (11/2018) ]

Mayilan-karachchi Vihara
[Photo courtesy: Pradeep Jayasinghe, Google Earth Photos, (08/2018) ]
Mayilan-karachchi Vihara
[Photo courtesy: Pradeep Jayasinghe, Google Earth Photos, (08/2018) ]
Mayilan-karachchi Vihara
[Photo courtesy: Pradeep Jayasinghe, Google Earth Photos, (08/2018) ]
Mayilan-karachchi Sinhala teaching
From a notebook of a Tamil child that attended Sinhala course at the Buddhist temple in 2017
A Sinhala settler from Mannampitiya in the neighbouring Polonnaruwa district had installed a small Buddha statue at the locality before the times of war for the worship by Sinhala workers who were employed at Vaazhaich-cheanai paper factory.

However, the son of the man who erected the statue claims now it was done as far back as 1948. It has not been possible to verify it.

A Bodi tree was planted during the times of SL President the late Ranasinghe Premadasa, according to C.E. Jayakodi, who is the son of the Mannampitiya-based man. Mr Jayakodi was cited by a Sinhala language daily, Divaina, in 2015.

“I have never seen a Sinhala Buddhist Dhamma school that teaches Tamil children and Tamil teachers,” Mr Jayakodi had told Divaina.

Tamil villagers were uprooted from the village after 1990. The nearby village of Thiyaa-vedduvaan has been seized by Tamil-speaking Muslim settlers who collaborated with the occupying SL military at that time.

After the genocidal onslaught on Vanni in 2009, around 275 Tamil families have managed to resettle in Mayilang-karachchi, the grassroots representatives from the Women's Rural Development Society told TamilNet.

The Commanding Officer of the occupying SL military's 9th Gemunu Watch, Kanchana Kumara, initiated the project to rebuild the Buddhist temple as a big establishment where no Sinhala Buddhists live.

The Owner of Polgasowita Stores, Namal Harischandra, Attorney-at-Law Anura Dr Gajanayaka and Thalagala Sumanarathana Thero – all Sinhalese – contributed to the reconstruction of the Bodhirajaramaya temple as an attractive complex right opposite Mayilangkarachchai Malai-maka'l Tamil school in 2013.

Around 50 Tamil children started to attend the Dhamma School in 2014.

Later, SL Commander of the 53rd regiment, Brigadier Nanda Haturusinghe, brought sponsors from South to further strengthen the infrastructure of the Sinhala Buddhist vihara. A Sanghavasa and a pilgrims’ rest were ceremonially opened on September 09, 2017, according to a news report filed by the Sunday Observer.

Last year, concerned Tamil parents in the village urged the Cultural Officer of Koara'laip-pattu (Vaazhaich-cheanai) Divisional Secretariat to initiate a Saiva A'ra Ne'ri school to preserve the Tamil language, its arts and culture, as well as the native religion among the young generation of Tamils in the village.

The Saiva A'ra Ne'ri school started to function in January 2019.

Although the number of children attending the Dhamma School has declined, the monk is still attracting the children of poverty-stricken Tamil families by offering morning and mid-Sunday meal and other facilities, the representatives of Women's Rural Development Society in the village said.

Around 15 Tamil children from grade 01 to grade 05 are attending the Dhamma classes at the Buddhist temple.

The Tamil school has very limitedl infrastructure. The recently arranged Tamil A'ra Ne'ri school also lacks facilities to compete with the big Sinhala Buddhist establishment to attract the young children, and the monk easily deceives the poverty-stricken Tamils, the grassroots activists told TamilNet. They did not wish to be named due to security reasons.

Mayilan-karachchi Sinhala teaching
From a notebook of a Tamil child that attended Sinhala course at the Buddhist temple in 2017

External Links:
Sunday Observer: Sri Mahindarama Viharaya gets pilgrims’ rest



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