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Sri Lanka’s Maaveerar Naal crackdown extends to Tamil Hindu festival of lights

Sri Lankan military and police have threatened a temple in Jaffna against marking the Tamil Hindu festival of lights, Karthikai Vilakkeedu today, due to the festival’s proximity in date to Maaveerar Naal, and the festival tradition of lighting lamps and tolling bells resemblance of Maaveerar Naal practices.

Preparations to celebrate the festival, also called Karthikai Deepam, were underway at the Mallakam Salampai Murugan temple when Sri Lankan soldiers turned up and threatened the organisers, warning against lighting lamps.

In a further act of menace, Chunnakam police kicked over and destroyed banana tree stalks which had been laid out in a decorative arrangement in front of the temple to hold lamps.

Such crackdowns on the festival, in which Tamil Hindus observe a fast and light rows of lamps around their homes, and temples toll bells, occurred frequently after 2009 when Karthikai Villakkeedu would fall close to Maaveerar Naal. The festival is celebrated on the full moon night of the Tamil month of Karthikai and celebrates the birth of the Tamil god Murugan.

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