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Monks and the mob in Dambulla
Tamil Guardian 23 April 2012 Print ArticleE-mail ArticleFeedback On Article

Last Friday a mob of about 2,000 Sinhalese, led by a group of Buddhist monks, stormed into a mosque in Dambulla.

The mosque and a Hindu temple have been long standing in an area now designated a sacred Buddhist site.

The above video of the incident, some of which was broadcast on TV, shows leading members of the Buddhist clergy (Sangha) engaged in the violence.

The security forces, as ever, stand by.

The incident ends with speeches to the mob by the monks ... and a bit of worship and chanting.

This article on offers a commentary on the incident and a translation of the Chief prelate’s comments to the mob.

The comments are noteworthy for the wider logic of Sinhala-Buddhist politics.

Extracts from the article:

There is a member of the Sangha who disrobes, jumps up and down and exposes himself, in public, against the mosque. Others break down the entrance of the mosque.

A Chief Prelate from the Dambulla Temple suggests that the mob is a shramadaanaya, and that destroying the mosque is something that they should in fact be helped by the government.

[At around 3.47 in the video,] there is a particularly chilling exchange between one of the Chief Prelates of the Dambulla Temple and a Hindu resident of the area.

The female resident says that from when she was small, she had worshipped at a Kovil in the area.

The Prelate’s immediate answer is whether she is referring to the 1800′s.

In a menacing Sinhala idiom that loses a lot of its original violence in translation, the Chief Prelate threatens to either remove the Kovil, or have it removed along with the homes of the Hindu residents, noting that they are all there illegally.

The Chief Prelate notes, through a Sinhala adage, that not only are the crows attempting to fly over their heads, they are now attempting to enter the nest as well – a clear reference to the Hindus and Muslims in the areas.

The woman assures the Chief Prelate, in a very deferent expression, that there is nothing for him to fear about their worship.

However, the Prelate’s answer is again menacing in Sinhala, noting that she can take her gods wherever they want to, but away from the sacred ground of the Temple.

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