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Ancient Tamil temple administration express concern over temple's future

Mr Poobalasingham, a trustee of the Athi Sivan Kovil on Vedukkunaari hill in Nedukeni, Vavuniya, expressed his concern over the future of the temple after it the Athi Lingam was destructed last week. 

Last week, the Athi Lingam consecrated to Lord Siva was destoyed and discarded in the shrubbery surrounding the temple while many other idols such as the idols of Pillaiyaar, the Mother Goddess Amman, and village deity Bhairavar were stolen from the temple. The vandalism sparked outrage from locals and a mass protest in Vavuniya to condemn the act as similar incidents of Sinhalisation of traditionally Tamil land across the North-East. 

Following the destruction, the temple administration were making plans to restore the destructed Athi Lingam today. However their plans were blocked by the Department of Archeology who issued a letter yesterday, calling on the Nedukeni police to take legal action against anyone who makes any alterations to the temple premises. 

Yesterday, three Tamils were arrested while cleaning the site to prepare for today's event to bless the Athi Lingam. They were arrested on charges of "damaging archeological ruins". 

Speaking to the press, Mr Poobalasingham said the temple administration were disappointed that the Athi Lingam could not be restored today. 

"We were informed that the idols would be consecrated today with the presence of the ministers but it didn't happen. This worries us a lot," he said. 

Earlier today, Douglas Devananda , the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Jeevan Thondaman, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development visited Vedukkunaari hill. The ministers told the temple administration that the idols could not be restored while a court case is pending and that action can only take place after the case is heard in court on April 10, 2023. 

"Until the Department of Archeology intervened in 2018, the public was free to worship in this temple. Now we have to assume that the Department of Archeology was created to destroy Tamil temples," Mr Poobalasingham added. 

He went on to add that "a vihara is being built in Kurunthurmalai (Mullaitivu) in violation of a court order without any repercussions. However, the court hasn't even ordered that we cannot enter the temple but the police and the archeology department are preventing it." 

After his visit, Thondman tweeted that he and Devananda would raise the issue at a Cabinet meeting tomorrow and "request a mechanism be introduced to prevent any such incidents which incite racial/religious tensions amongst the people." 

The incident at Vedukkunaari hill closely follows similar incidents of Sinhalisation of traditionally Tamil land across the North-East with the oversight of Sri Lanka’s Archeological department and the military. 





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