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Sri Lanka's security forces disrupt celebrations for Tamil Hindu festival of lights

In Mullaitivu, the Sri Lankan military questioned Tamils who were marking Karthikai Vilakkeedu, the Tamil Hindu festival of lights, due to its proximity to Maaveerar Naal, the Tamil national remembrance day for fallen Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres.

Locals expressed their concerns over the security forces continuous attempts to disrupt the festival and the inability to freely celebrate festivals during the month of November. 

Meanwhile, students at the University of Jaffna were also disrupted by Sri Lankan intelligence officers as they attempted to mark the festival. Students were monitored and prevented from entering the university by the university's security officers. 

The intelligence officers gathered outside the university in an attempt to intimdate the students who defiantly lit lamps around the university. 

Last year, Sri Lankan police arrested a Jaffna University student for lighting a lamp for the festival of Karthikai Vilakkeedu. The police said they arrested the student based on information they received that he was trying to pay tribute to fallen LTTE fighters. The student was arrested despite attempts to explain the festival to the police.

The festival falls each year on the full moon night of the Tamil month of karthikai (November). Origin stories behind the festival vary regionally, although one reason is to celebrate the birth of the Tamil god Murugan.

Another popular practice involves building a bonfire as a tribute to the God Siva who transformed into a flame 'without beginning or end'.


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