Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Sri Lankan First Lady breaks Guruvayur tradition

Tamil Information Service

The act of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and his Christian wife Siranthi Rajapakse, seeking the blessings of Guruvayoorappan for peace in the island nation, has raked up a spiritual controversy.

The ‘spiritual blunder’, cutting across bilateral ties and consonance of views between the two countries, is likely to snowball, as the think-tank of the Guruvayur Devaswom (GD) is waiting for official confirmation about her faith.

“If the President’s wife is a Christian, we will have to redo all the ‘poojas’ from December 30 (the day of the visit) to the present date. Cleansing rituals will have to be done as well. We have already begun preparation for the cleansing rituals,” temple Mukhya Tanthri Chennas Raman Namboodiripad told the TIS website’s newspaper.

A Sri Lankan anti-government newspaper Sunday Leader had first scooped this issue, which was also taken up by the mainstream Sri Lankan media.

Noting that non-Hindus were not allowed in the temple, it said the only exception was for Buddhists, as Buddha is regarded as a god of the Hindus. Back home, the State Government is frantically defending its stand.

“We have communicated every detail of the temple to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The MEA had even asked for a clarification regarding the entry of Buddhists inside the temple. Kerala Government had clearly informed the MEA that non-Hindus are prohibited entry inside the holy precincts of the temple.

“This was why Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, Jayasinghe, who is a Christian, the President’s chief security officer Fernandes and chief of protocol, Sri Lanka, Amza, who is a Muslim, were retained at Cochin Airport during the visit,” said State Protocol Officer Sreekumar.

Temple sources say Rajapakse’s cousin had also come to the temple, a couple of days before the Presidential visit, to enquire about the ‘rituals’ and customs of the temple. The cousin had booked the ‘venna thulabharam’ for the President, paying Rs 13,000.

“The government is in touch with the Indian High Commissioner to get the details. If this is confirmed, ‘thantric’ rituals will be performed as per the directive of the ‘Mukhya Tanthri,’ Devaswom Minister K.C. Venugopal said, adding that, “…steps will be taken to prevent such incidents in future.”

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said his wife Siranthi was a Buddhist by religion and an ardent devotee of Sree Satya Sai Baba.

“Some ‘anti-government’ lobby in Sri Lanka is behind the allegations,” he told Chief Minister Oommen Chandy during a telephone conversation.