In Sri Lanka, we celebrate Sinhala & Tamil New Year NOT Sinhala & Hindu New Year

Sinhala & Tamil New Year

Is the Christian dominated press, often accused of functioning as a 5th column, attempting to create new nomenclatures or simply upto usual mischief as directed by their sponsors in attempting to throw a new phrase to what has been traditionally used? There is no Sinhala-Hindu New Year, in Sri Lanka we celebrate the Sinhala-Tamil New Year.

Sinhalese and Tamil are 2 ethnic groups. The Sinhalese were all Buddhists and the Tamils where all Hindus. Sinhalese and Tamils were either Buddhists or Hindus. There was no requirement to call people Sinhalese Buddhists or Tamil Hindus. Every Sinhalese was a Buddhist and every Tamil was a Hindu.

All this changed with the arrival of the colonial invaders who forcibly converted the Sinhalese and Tamils into Christians or Catholics dividing the two ethnic groups along religious lines. The present day Christians and Catholics need to realize that their forefathers were all forcibly converted and explains why most people living along the coastal belt areas are all Christians/Catholics. Many Hindus forcibly converted as Catholics in the North returned to Hinduism when the Dutch arrived.

It must also be noted that while the Sinhalese and Tamils were living as Buddhists and Hindus not a single call was made for a separate state, no calls for a separate homeland and no record of discord between the two races or two religions. Apart from the politicians, both Buddhists and Hindus are beginning to realize the truth.

The invading colonial nations all followed the common objective of conquest, commerce and conversion. They had the gun in one hand and the Bible in the other. The gun helped conversions then but in todays context the gun has been replaced with numerous other subtle and manipulating methods.

That the invading nations were all steered in collusion with the Church is nothing that needs to be repeatedly told. Part of the divide and rule systems introduced to the nations that were invaded and occupied by colonial rulers worked with the Church to convert non-Christians to Christianity. In turn they introduced new values systems revolved around the Church and following Western thinking and behaviors all of which were directly opposite the aesthetic culture and value systems followed by both Buddhists and Hindus.

Even today the West continues the same objective via communication channels and various modes to advance that same objective and hold key stakes in media and charities that has as their mission to carry out this objective. The western media is very much in control of them clearly establishing the influence over how people think or are made to think. The success of this is clear where amongst the elite the Eastern value systems are fast departing or subject to ceremonial events. The dangers and repercussions of adopting cultures and value systems which are not really one’s own can be seen with time and statistics have shown how children and even adults of these families are experiencing numerous issues related to drug addiction, drinking, gambling, prostitution etc.

As for the present attempt to project a new twist to the national festival, media has been and continues to be part of the same lobby out to divide the Buddhist and Hindus given that the religious component to Sri Lanka’s current conflict is one that cannot be left out of the equation and can be seen in the manner the priests come forward to represent the Tamil ‘cause’ and become linked to the Christian Eelam lobby that India is now beginning to realize for itself.

Thus, even the traditional festival has been turned into an effort to further divide the people on a day where at one single time, every Buddhist and Hindu partake of the traditional sweetmeats and involve themselves in a spirit of giving and sharing. Sharing of sweetmeats may not happen in the areas of Colombians or the elite following western values and norms but Sinhalese and Tamils continue to share sweettrays and visit each other on this day as has been happening in the past.

The influence has been such that we wonder who are preparing the speeches or who are the journalist behind the mischief and why editors have allowed such a grave error to pass without correction.

The President’s message declares “We celebrate the dawn of this Sinhala and Tamil Aluth Avurudda with pride in our efforts towards building a nation self-sufficient in an abundant harvest of nature’s blessings”

The Media Minister, Keheliya Rambukwella in his message says “The dawn of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year heralds unity and equality among all people. It also provides an opportunity for Sri Lankans to work in unison to make their country prosperous and peaceful.”

Yet the Prime Minister the person who is the custodian of ensuring that Buddhism is given the foremost place in Sri Lanka, the coverage of his message declares ‘Sri Lankans have received the opportunity to revive fresh hopes during the New Year, while holding on to the age old customs and cultural values, Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne states in his Sinhala-Hindu New Year message.

The Prime Ministers office needs to demand a correction.

The leaders of Sri Lanka cannot afford to ignore the efforts taking place to divide people. Most often leaders themselves are prey to being influenced by members of their own cabinet who think that they have a carte blanche to do as they like in the electorates under them. Unless the leaders declare a clear policy Sri Lanka is likely to see more dissent and chaos than harmony. The very entities that are causing trouble are those that are recipients of direct foreign funds under religious themes and for religious incursions and this has directly affected both Buddhists and Hindus who have no such donors or even ruling politicians to advance their cause or protect their religions which is probably a key reason why people have taken matters into their own hands.

If a name change to a traditional national festival must take if at all it must be Buddhist-Hindu or remain Sinhala-Tamil. Nevertheless, with elements including the media upto mischief it behoves the Buddhist & Hindu organizations to not remain silent and take part in ceremonial rituals only but realize the eroding conditions associated around their respective religions. These indigenous organizations are not expected to issue Oxbridge statements but at least they must demand action by the leaders and take steps to project the incursions taking place. It is only then that the politicians wake up to reality for they have developed a habit of remembering the majority populace during election times only.

– by Shenali D Waduge