Register All Sacred Sites and Bring Laws to Prevent Building Other Religious Places of Worship Therein

Lanka Web, Posted on April 23rd, 2012
- Kumar Moses

The incident in Dambulla is sad and hurtful to all Sri Lankans. It should not have happened. A few years ago a Muslim shrine built on a previously Hindu shine was torn down in Ayodhya, India. Such practices must not be allowed in Sri Lanka. Most effective way to prevent recurrence of similar incidents is by banning anymore religious constructions without stringent approvals at the national and regional levels. Department of Archaeology must also be consulted.

There are places of religious worship relatively recently built in the Kataragama holy area where the practitioners don’t worship God Kataragama but bring in totally alien religious practices. They are an insult to the shrine that was in existence for more than 2,200 years.

The malicious attempt to build places of religious worship on top of ancient established shrines must be defeated. It is a direct attack on the people’s right to practice their religion as they have been practicing for the past 2,300 years.

Government must bring in laws to register all pre-colonial places of religious worship and protect them. No one should be allowed to build any other places of religious worship in any of these places.

It is also time Sri Lanka completely banned foreign missionaries and foreign financing of local religious activities. Since all four major religions are already well established, there is no need to externally fund selected religions. That disturbs balance and the harmonious coexistence.

Plight of the ancient Buddhist Shine, Muhudu Maha Viharaya in the East has been highlighted by the media. Similarly ancient Buddhist sites in Dighavapi have been damaged by a fundamentalist group. Any attempt to repeat violence against established historical sites must be met with military action.

The defence establishment must take serious note of the possibility of extremism creeping into the country via Middle Eastern sects. Cancerous spread of illegal radio stations propagating violence and harm must be clamped down. Some of the already actioned stations include New Moon FM, Kalmunai FM, Kathankudy FM, New Rise FM, Puttalam FM, Kalpitiya FM, Kalkudah FM and Beruwala FM. It is no secret there are many more operating clandestinely.

Amendments to the constitutional provision of freedom of religious practice are needed to allow everyone an equal right to practice their religion while respecting historical sites.

A vote at the UNHRC in Geneva does not give any country a licence to tread over Sri Lanka. If a selected group of international actors are dragged into domestic affairs, there is nothing that prevents other powerful actors to also get involved.

At the same time it is also imperative that the government enforces sound pollution laws without favouritism. No religious place of worship should be allowed to use loudspeakers except for a day in the calendar. Sound pollution causes immense inconvenience and disgust to people around the country. Sadly, religious places of worship are at the forefront of sound pollution.

Unlike most other countries Sri Lanka allows public holidays for all major religious festivities reflective of the tolerant society. It must be appreciated and preserved.

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