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Divine intervention? Sri Lankan High Commission forced to move Independence Day ceremony in London

Photograph: Sri Lankan High Commission in London

The Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK was forced into a last-minute change of plans for a religious ceremony scheduled to celebrate ‘Independence Day’ last weekend after locals expressed their displeasure.

Initially, the High Commission had advertised the religious ceremonies it had organised in London to “commemorate the 76th Independence Day, and to invoke blessings for Sri Lanka”.

Amongst them was a “Hindu Religious Ceremony” at an unnamed “Hindu Kovil” in the UK. The address listed however was that of the Sadhguru Sri Sharavana Baba Multi-Faith Community Centre in North London.

When questioned by the Tamil Guardian about a potential ceremony to “invoke blessings for Sri Lanka,” sources from the temple expressed their surprise that such an event was to take place there, and denied any knowledge of it.

Instead, it seems a religious pooja had been booked under the pseudonym 'Ramaswamy' for the advertised date and time, with no mention of Sri Lanka’s Independence Day commemorations.

Temple officials contacted the Sri Lankan High Commission and asked that their name be removed from this invitation and stressed no such blessing ceremony will take place, under any circumstances.

All mention of the ceremony was swiftly removed from the High Commission’s social media channels and website, with the Sri Lankans forced to hold a small-scale private religious ceremony at the Highgate Hill Murugan Temple instead.

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Rohitha Bogollagama, the former foreign affairs minister who spent much of his term denying reports that the Sri Lankan military committed war crimes, was pictured alongside a handful of other officials at the Hindu ceremony.

The Buddhist and Islamic ceremonies took place as originally advertised.

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