The Sunday Leader

Kataragama To KKS – (South To North)

By S. V. Kirubaharan in France

Inspecting the guard of Honour by school girls at Kalmunai, Batticaloa. (L-R) M. S. Kariappar (MP, Kalmunai), Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake and S. Visuvalingam. (October 3, 1949) , Speech delivered by Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake and extreme left S. Visuvalingam interpreting the speech. (October 3, 1949) and Kataragama Temple in the ‘60s

During our school holidays, we travelled extensively to all parts of Sri Lanka, making maximum use of my father’s first class railway warrant. We flew by then Air Ceylon between Palaly, Ratmalana and China Bay in Trincomalee. Comparing the present to those good old days, there are no words to express my grief.
I can see how politicians in Ceylon and then Sri Lanka have become a dominant power within the last few decades. My father, then being an inspector of schools, received the first Prime Minister of Ceylon, when late D. S. Senanayake visited Kalmunai in the Eastern Province, on October 3, 1949. My father took the visiting prime minister on a procession inspecting the guard of honour by students in Kalmunai. Also he interpreted the PM’s speech from English to Tamil.  Senanayake spoke neither Sinhalese nor Tamil. On that same day my eldest sister was born in the Kalmunai hospital, with the then record breaking weight of 12 pounds. The Prime Minister personally visited the hospital to see the new born baby and jokingly said to my mother “for a father with such a physique, 12 pounds of baby is not a big record.” My mother still relates this story.

We have travelled from Colombo to Matara by train and then by bus to Kataragama. Also to up-country, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Chilaw, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Mannar and the whole of Jaffna peninsula, including the islands.

What surprises me from what we have seen and read is how little from the past exists now. For instance, we went to Kataragama in the ‘60s, ‘70s and lastly in 1987 — there is increasing evidence of a gradual write-off of a culture and religion. We saw this when we visited last in 2004, up-country and other parts that we had seen in the ‘60s. Trincomalee and Batticaloa have the same pathetic stories.

What does this mean and how have these places changed? In the world, places change with modern buildings, parks, industrialisation etc. But what we have seen in the above-mentioned areas has nothing to do with modernisation and upgrading standards.

In Kataragama, we always stayed at Ramakrishna Mission guest house, well maintained by a Swami — thousands of pilgrims were given lunch and dinner. There were many Saiva (Hindu) temples. Those managing them and the priests were Tamil. During those days Tamil songs were broadcast through loud speakers.

Bullock cart to Sella-Kataragama

In the ‘60s when we wanted go to ‘Sella-Kataragama’, we hired two bullock carts for a three mile journey through the jungles. On our way, I still remember, we saw a dead deer. The bullock cart men were Sinhalese but conversed with us in Tamil.

Whenever we travelled by car to Kataragama, one of our stops was Kalutara town where we could listen to good Tamil songs at high volume. This was due to the competition among the restaurants in the town. When we went last time to Kataragama, I was so sad to see the status of the temples. The government arbitrarily took over Ramakrishnan Mission in the ‘70s and now it is converted into a museum. Sad to say, presently there is no trace of Tamil existence of the past in Kataragama area – no more Tamil shops. I remember reading in a newspaper in the ‘80s, that a man who came on a pilgrimage from India was murdered in a hair dressing salon in Kataragama.

In the past, everywhere in up-country, there were Tamil-speaking people, including at the bottom of Adam’s Peak (Samanalakanda-Sivanolipatha malai) — it is not the same now. In fact, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims have claimed, connecting the footprint seen in the mountain (Adam’s Peak) to their religious leaders/gods.

In Kandy, next to Selva Pillayar (Vinayakar) Temple, there was a home known as ‘Tamil Home’, where bachelors from Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Jaffna could reside while working in Kandy. This home met a tragic end, attacked by rioters.

Resettle back in Kataragama and other places

Since winning the war, the Rajapaksas and their people say we are all Sri Lankan and that there is no place for a specific community or ethnic-group. Everyone has the right to settle anywhere of their choice. If this is genuine, why can’t the Tamils be resettled back in Kataragama, up-country, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee and Ampara, Batticaloa and elsewhere where Tamils were living years back?

There are five renowned Hindu shrines (Easwarams) that existed for thousands of years in Sri Lanka. Thirukoneswaram (Trincomalee), Muneswaram (Chilaw), Thiruketheswaram (Pallavi-Mannar) and Thondeswaran – (Dondra in Galle also known as Devinuwara and Devundra) was destroyed by the Portuguese, foreign invaders. In its place a Vishnu temple was built according to Buddhist tradition. The fifth one, Naguleswaram is in Keerimalai in Kankesanthurai, where the colonisation process has just started and other Easwarams are gradually losing their identities.

Trincomalee tells another sad story. When we went there in the ‘60s and late ‘70s, I didn’t see any Sinhalese living in Trincomalee town. Of course we saw a few Sinhalese working in Fort Frederick where the Konneswaram temple is situated. When I went to these areas in 2004, I was in shock! Not only the town, even the agricultural village Thampalagama and other areas, are all populated with Sinhalese. Kanniya (hot-water-geysers) are now Sinhalese villages. All the temples have been destroyed and replaced with Buddhist statues.

Tamils lived peacefully in Negombo, Puttalam, Chilaw, Uddappu and other areas. Today what is the Tamil population in these areas?

Those days, the Christians, particularly Catholics went on pilgrimage to ‘Our Lady of Madhu’, especially during festival period. I had been to Madhu during off-festival time, when there is nobody other than laymen and a huge presence of flies and white butterflies. Thiruketheswaram in Pallavi is another place we visited. Tamil people were forcefully vacated from most of those areas. We had a bath at Naguleswaram temple in Keerimalai tank in 1984 taking the risk of being fired at from any direction.

Everywhere there are signs of cultural and religious genocide! The President should be open, fair and impartial in his commitment. If he wants to prove his fairness and equal treatment of citizens, he should courageously resettle the Tamils from Kataragama to Kankesanthurai (KKS). This could be a stepping stone for a united Sri Lanka.  In conclusion, in ‘70s Jayewardene and Athulathmudali thought by allowing many of the Tamils to go abroad, militancy would be suppressed. That however proved counter-productive and today the strong Tamil diaspora all over the world is a threat to Rajapaksa and his government.

Presently, at least 500,000 – 600,000 Tamils are living in democratic and civilised countries, in which they are accepted as equal citizens with equal political rights. In other words, Sri Lankan politicians may be chasing Tamils from the island, but they have better status and equal rights in foreign countries and the Tamil language, culture and traditions are given better status than in Sri Lanka. This may be counter-productive for Sri Lanka into the future.

Today, Rajapaksas’ actions may be appreciated by short-sighted people — one day, the future generation from the South may find that the Rajapaksas’ were part of the most extreme blunders.

Very few academics from the South have written articles with theories and examples of equal treatment of Tamils. But in our experience many politicians — presidents, prime ministers and monarchies have fallen into to the ‘laws of motion’ of Sir Isaac Newton – “To every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction” and “everything which goes up has to come down” because of the ‘gravity’ of earth. Let us wait and see the future of the Rajapaksas and Sri Lanka.

17 Comments for “Kataragama To KKS – (South To North)”

  1. Selvathurai

    Hello Kirubaharan, your analysis is very good. You are cleaverly aruging about the Sinhala colonisation in the North and East, Well done.

    Unfortunately, majority of the people in the South are for one language, one national, one religion and one country,

    Take a break! Those who do not agree with your writings will try to …………..you,

    Good wishes and greetings

  2. Upali

    So you tamils wants conquer Srilanka and you want that to be done by President Rajapaksa. Good luck.

    Why dont you come to Sri Lanka and work on this project.

    Law of motion is good. Do you strongly believe that this will work on conquer as well.

  3. Ponnuthurai

    We done.

    George Willy in US spoken in his term to the President and you wrote the locals in your language.

    The question is whether this be condiered seriously.

    keep it up

  4. Gamini

    we follow your articles. There is no doubt that you are human rights activist. Is it possible for you to change our Srilankan system with your writtings!

    We are much far away from haniballism and baraberianism.

    You see, unlike the LTTE’s so called defacto government, we are real democratically elected government. Whether it is President or anyother Ministers they have people mandate.

    How you being one man army will change our system.

    It is you day dream to colonise the whole of Sri Lanka with Tamils. Our beloved President will see that you writings will not be implimented here.

    This is not France, this is Sri Lanka

  5. Perera

    Who the hell are you to talk about all these from France.

    You are a coward had all free education in SL and ran away from to serve in foreign country.

    If you Tamils have equal rights, you remain in those country, leave us alone.

  6. kavi

    Truths are bitter.These are truths.Tamils don’t want whole Sri Lanka.Tamils want to preserve their culture and tradition where they actually live had their identities (mostly Northeast).

    This is what asked by Tamils for decades and traditionally rejected by SL government,and the root cause of the conflict.

    what is colonization?Tamils are not going colonize or pollute Anurathapura,or Polonaruwa, Kurunagale,or Down-south,Hill-country where traditionally Sinhalese heritage places.Still those places reflect Sinhalese cultural identity.

    BUT TAMILS ARE LOOSING THEIR IDENTITIES IN EVERY-PART COMPARE TO PAST,IS WRONG TO TALK ABOUT THIS AS TAMIL??Every ethnicity has right to talk and preserve about their culture.
    DON’T TRY TO SHOUT LOUD OR EXAGGERATE AND COVER THE TRUTHS!!

  7. selvanathan

    pls let us sty free you guys are run away when we are suffering 30 years now again talking rubbish pls mind your business in France

    • Kanpathypillai

      I do not know whether you are really SELVANATHAN or Selvanatha?

      Never mind,, if you read pro-government news papers like Island, Daily News, defence.lk, asiantribune.lk, you wont come out with such radiculus points.

      Not only today yesterday, Kirubaharan was not among for at least for twenty years.

      Selvanathan, if you really Selvanathan, you must apologised to Kirubaharan otherwise you are another member of the usual gang.

  8. soma

    How do you explain the ban of burka in France, the so called democratic society that you are highly praising of, that is a religios and cultural way of dressing some parts of the world.
    You will see in future what will happen to you unles you go with the way of life of the country you chose to live.

  9. M.S.Mudali

    Lot of “Sinhala” refugees” are in France. Lot of Tamil refugees in Canada. Is Sri lanka producing refugees? Rajapakse declares that all the people of Sri Lanka are equal. But some readers get confused when a person talk his experience.

    Destruction of Hindu heritages in Sri Lanka is a sin because Buddha was a Hindu.

    During the time of Duta Gemunu, no Buddhist or Muslim or Christian shrines in Kataragama. The Skanda was alone and prayed by Dutu Gemunu.

    Politicking with places of worship is not a good idea. Sinhalaese, majority claim Buddhist but follow something anti-Buddhist!

  10. Dear Kirubaharan,

    In summary,what you are saying is that Tamils sholuld be resettled in kataragama, up-country and elsewhere as before and Tamil territories should not be colonised with communities other than tamils. If alternative is done, it is discrimination against tamils! What an imprecise and awkward thinking is this !! The division and conflict between the two communities started due to crazy people thinking like this from both sides.

  11. Hamsa

    There is no problem with Kirubaharan’s article. If 500 people from the south who are presently in Jaffna and making bogus claim that they are from Jaffna, Kirubaharan’s analysis with evidence should be appreciated that Tamil should be resettled in Jaffna.

    Be analytical in your comments, be fair in what you say and be realistic.

    Otherwise you all become joakers of 21st centuary.

  12. Kanpathypillai

    Come on, our George Willy Jnr.

    During our history of last at least thirty years, George Willy was the 1st one who proved that he could challenge including the President. We could place Kirubaharan as 2nd to George Willy.

    Kirubaharan says from his experience which should not be ignored.

    Kirubaharan, ignore all those biased comments. Either they are jealous of your article or they are not efficiencet to write analytical article like you. Execuse such absured people.

  13. Anura

    Hi Kanapathypillai you are right, but you have forgotten something.

    In the past, Kiruba had several direct debates with many cabinet Ministers in Geneva, in the present of the international community UN human rights council. We have seen those news items in the Daily Mirror, also kiruba said in his recent interview about it.

    Prof G. L. Peiris, Kheliya Rambukala, Douglas Devananda , Lalith Weeratunga were the few name I remember .

    It is true, this nothing like great lawyer George Willy. GW gave an open lecture to right person, at the right time, infront of the right people.

    Have you seen only half of the ordiance were not standing after the speech of GW – WHY?

    Have the President learnt some from George Willy’s speech?

  14. Anura

    Why people do not allow the truth to be out.

    It is true that kirubaharan had an open debate in the UN with several high profile Ministers, GL Peiris, Rambukalai, etc.

    We never head or hear anything about anyone having any debate with any ministers locally. Kiruba was able to do this b’cause the ministers could not avoid this in the Human rights council in the UN.

    Most of read this news in the news paper in colombo.

    It is true George Willie did something greater than what kiruba did.

    Devil should be given its share.

    Some who wrote comments have denied the freedom of expression by kiruba. It is our problem from government to indivual. Nobody is ready for discussion!

  15. Philip

    Hi S V Kirubaharan, when are you coming to Sri Lanka? People like you are more needed here than in France.

    Sarath Fonseka’s prison room number is S; we presume that room number T or U will not be ready for you.

    I congratulate you for your courageous and straight forward writings.

  16. Perera

    In conclusion you wants to legalise Tamils to conquer the whole of Sri Lanka. If Tamils are happy in western country stay there and leave us alone.

    This is the only Singhala country in the whole of globe. Why you are advocating for two languages here? You have Tamil Nadu and elswhere.

    Dont have day dreams! Sri Lanka is for LANKANS!

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