Vaikasi Pongal celebrations at Vattappalai Kannaki Amman temple in Mullaitivu took place under the strict control and surveillance of the Sri Lankan police and military on Monday.
Festivities inside the temple took place amidst surveillance of police and public health inspectors. Outside, checkpoints were setup along two main roads leading to the temple to restrict public access, with attendance capped to 51 people.
Multiple devotees were detained at the checkpoints and sent away. Instead, devotees fulfilled their prayers by breaking coconuts at the intersection of the road leading to the temple.
As a part of the Pongal festivities, a sea water lamp that was kept burning for seven days in Mulliyavalai Katta temple is transported to the Amman temple for the Vaikasi Visakam Pooja. The momentous occasion has been marred by the normalisation of military occupation in the North-East as military presence and surveillance at temple festivals rise. This comes despite the Sri Lankan army installing Vesak lanterns in Jaffna despite COVID-19 restrictions.