Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Religion and Politics – Intertwined for good or bad

I had a comment on my Facebook by a friend who noted that as part of our political activities, wherever we go there is some sort of religious connotation. He lives in America, and there is STRICT separation of Church and State there, and there is NO religious involvement in everyday politics. There are a few notable exceptions such as the National Prayer Breakfast at which the President of the USA officiates, so I can understand his dismay.

In Sri Lanka on the other hand we received religious blessings no matter what religion we happen to practice, usually the majority religion in the location we visit as a guest, we partake in whatever function, like a prayer or pancha seela or whatever other religious practice. On Sunday I was first at a temple and soon after at a Devale. There were two different types of ceremony. We from time to time have to go to Mosques to give chairs for a Muslim Daham Pasala or a Christian Church for a function, and accordingly the local traditions of the area, namely of the congregation gathered at the event is observed.

I would like to point out that the Provincial Counselor at the event on Sunday, a Muslim, had a pirith noola tied on his hand by the Chief Priest of the Temple. So in a multi religious country, we must respect all religions and be flexible in how we handle religious observances. The Cricket grounds the tournament that we participated in on Sunday was next to a temple. Accordingly the Chief Priest of the Temple was invited to the podium, and stayed throughout the tournament, in the most important position in the order of preferences.

I personally do not find it a distraction, as it is accepted as part of Sri Lankan custom even in politics. So there are a few items we stand up for, namely any religious observance, then the singing of the National Anthem, and the Party Song, and also to remember the Political Party people who have sacrificed their lives in the interests of democracy. Further when we observe a moment of silence for those who died in the Insurgency, we also stand and observe a minutes silence.

I write this to give my readers, and some of my friends who now see numerous photos of my with many people I meet in my daily activities in Facebook, and see me with different religious clergy at different functions. One must also remember that many religious places of worship also double as community halls in villages, and therefore it is intertwined with the fabric of village life.

Any observations by my readers in this regard will be welcome.


Anonymous said...

while the principle of separation of church and state exists in America since its founding, in practice it's something else -- as with many things America says and does.

just look at the facts of government:
-- the Congress has a religious leader bless its deliberations
-- the President has prayer breakfasts, is sworn in on religious-based oath, gets blessings for his presidency, etc.
-- the U.S. official slogan is "In GOD we trust"
-- and there's plenty more if you take the time to notice

The values of religions are good, but if they are exclusive and don't include members of other faiths into their groups then they are quite divisive without any overall values that negate the divisiveness of religions. so the state MUST emphasize the multi-cultural nature of SL as a virtue regularly in order to keep the factions from tearing the country apart.

Anonymous said...

I think Anomymous is missing the point altogether.

Anonymous said...

I think Anonymous 2 doesn't understand the idea of sharing ideas

Anonymous said...

things seem to be coming around for the greens. a few issues that you can document and articulate effectively to the people are:

1. massive hike in electricity prices which represent mis-management of the sector and a hit on the pockets of the ordinary consumer and industrialists. everyone will understand this isssue.

2. massive purchase of Sri Lankan airlines jets for no apparent reason, raising clear suspicions of corrupt dealings which are massively wasting public funds which can be used to solve the problems of the masses

3. duminda silva, mp,'s apparent immunity from accountability in regard to the killing of a top presidential advisor and some others. it's mind-boggling to the people how he can be so immune from such a well-documented and serious crime. it reflects the lack of willingness of the government to implement law and order on those close to the government, to the detriment of the ordinary citizen who has to suffer under the immunity of the criminals associated with the government (that is not to say that the entire government is criminal, only some)

Anonymous said...

When religion and politics intertwine, it's disturbing how the religious leadership ignores (and seems to accept and condone and don't denounce even in general terms) the violence (even murder) that their politicos inflict on others. The duminda affair is a case in point; mervin's acts are other examples. This is disgraceful! We proudly call ourselves a devoutly religious peace-loving nation, make offerings everywhere at every point in life as you point out, look sneeringly down at others and then allow this sort of thing. Isn't this hypocrisy of the highest magnitude?