Tamil Calendar 2024 December Month

Women: Empowering or endangering one another?

The Sangha for Better Sri Lanka (SBSL) and the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) are saddened by the untoward incidents that took place during the Maha Shivaratri Event (March 8, 2024) at Vedukkunari Aathi Sivan Temple in the North of Sri Lanka.

On the Maha Shiva Rathri night (the most auspicious night in the Hindu calendar), in an alarming escalation of force, the security forces resorted to actions which included depriving the devotees of food, water and other basic necessities, and the forceful and humiliating manner in which the devotees including the temple priests were removed from the site and detained.

We are aware of the history of the conflict in this and other contentious areas which are often fuelled by the suspicions and fears among the minority communities about the broader state agenda of imposing majoritarian character, symbols and practices at the expense of their centuries old cultural traditions and practices. The Archaeology Department is often viewed as a tool to achieve this end. The courts, too, are subjected to unhealthy pressure and in the present crisis there are conflicting interpretations as to whether the night pooja was permitted or not – this in itself is an affront to those who have been following such religious practices over many years.

What was striking the most during the recent escalation was the excessive force and the humiliating treatment inflicted upon the devotees of a particular faith.

As the police couldn’t produce any evidence of damage at the site, and the fact that there was an existing legal determination that worshipping must be permitted and the release of all detainees by the judge is of great relief.

The oral statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, presented earlier this month highlighted continuing abductions, unlawful detention and torture by the Security establishment and the present crisis appears to validate his strong concerns. Further, such occurrences go against the reconciliation agenda the government purported to promote, including by setting up a new Office for this purpose.

We are also concerned about the negative fallout such incidents can cause to the initiatives undertaken by SBSL and GTF for promoting religious harmony and understanding among all communities in Sri Lanka.

With the possibility of elections later in the year and the potential for interested parties to stir unrest for electoral benefits, we call upon all citizens of the country – including politicians, government officials, and the legal and security establishments – to take utmost precaution to avoid repeat of such incidents in the future.

In other progressive steps three of the SBSL Buddhist monks, Ven. Madampagama Assaji Tissa Thero, Ven. Kithalagama Hemasara Nayake Thero and Ven. Prof. Pallekande Rathnasara Thero met with the Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious, and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickremanayake on 14 March. Apart from formally handing over the Himalaya Declaration, they also discussed some of the issues highlighted at the meeting with the Most Ven Nallai Atheenam Kurukkal in December 2023.

It is noteworthy to acknowledge that the SBSL monks visited the sites in January to see it for themselves where issues were identified, including the Thirukoneswarar Temple in Tricomalee, Kurunthoor Malai and in Kankesanthurai within the presidential palace compound which comprises two Hindu temples, namely Lingeswarar Kovil and Krishnar Kovil and a Samadhi (tomb or mausoleum) of Sadayamma Sadhu. The Minister assured the monks that he will assist in finding resolutions to these issues in the near future. On 10 January, at Kurunthoor Malai, with the assistance of the Governor for Northern Province, the monks were able to resolve the issue of water supply to a large part of agricultural land to which water supply was temporarily suspended.

On 12 March, Ven. Kalupahana Piyaratana Thero from the SBSL and Prakash Rajasunderam from GTF – Australia met with the United Nations Resident Coordinator Marc-André Franche in Colombo and formally handed over the Himalaya Declaration. Following the meeting, the UN Resident Coordinator tweeted “Today, I received representatives from Sangha for Better Sri Lanka & Global Tamil Forum who shared their ‘Himalayan Declaration’ & plans for ‘National Conversation’. Look forward to further updates of their social & religious dialogue on reconciliation and respect for human rights”.

The third of the five proposed workshops as preparatory district level workshops to upskill coordinators for the National Conversation based on the Himalaya Declaration took place in Batticaloa, on Friday, March, 1 and Saturday, March, 2. Participants from four surrounding districts, namely, Polonnaruwa, Monaragala, Ampere and Trinocmalee also participated.

At the workshop in Batticaloa, thirty religious leaders of all faiths and some civil society members participated. Ven. Kalupahana Piyarathana Thero, Ven. Prof. Pallekande Rathnasara Thero, and Ven. Kithalagama Hemasara Nayake Thero were present and led the discussions on behalf of Sangha for Better Sri Lanka (SBSL). Global Tamil Forum (GTF) was represented by Velupillai Kuhanendran from the United Kingdom.

Visaka Dharmadasa’s Association for War Affected Women (AWAW) facilitated the gathering. Six statements in the Declaration found widespread acknowledgement among the participants. Professional facilitators Indika Perera, Nagaratnam Vijayskanthan and Jinadari Parameshwaram, who also provided translations.

The inaugural workshop was held in Kurunegala on February 9 and 10. At the Kurunegala workshop, participants included Gampaha, Anuradhapura and Puttalam as well. The second workshop was held at Kandy, where participants were from areas such as Mattale, Badulla, Ratnapura, Nuwara Eliya and Kegalle.

These planned workshops are aimed at training the proposed 150 interfaith clergy and civil society members, as coordinators. They will be the key resource persons who will facilitate the planned 25 districts conversations, in the coming months. These proposed five workshops will all be two days workshops, spread around the country.

Next workshop will be on 19 and 20 April in Galle which will have participants from Colombo, Kalutara, Galle, Matara and Hambantota. The final one will be on 26 and 27 April in Vavuniya, where participants from Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar and Vavuniya will participate.

Each district will be represented by five inter-religious persons and a civil society member in total six per district. Therefore, from the 25 districts will be 150 coordinators. Once all five workshops are over, the national conversation will begin.

Tamil Calendar   Tamil Nadu Festivals  Tamil Nadu Holidays
Tamil Calendar Tamil Nadu Festivals Tamil Nadu Holidays
December Month Tamil Calendar Dates, Subha Muhurtham, Amavasai,  Pournami, Festivals #december
December Month Tamil Calendar Dates, Subha Muhurtham, Amavasai, Pournami, Festivals #december