Friday, April 1, 2016

Here’s the Age of the grinding stone

Light Refractions By Lucien Rajakarunanayake
From The Island
The Minister of Highways and Higher Education – Lakshman Kiriella – with his obsession with the higher living expenditure of Members of Parliament, is certainly looking more towards the grinding stones of the "Seenigama Devale" or Sugar Village demonic shrine, than the role and duties of MPs.

His statement that an MP’s monthly allowance of Rs, 100,000 is insufficient for living, must have raised subdued and silent hurrahs among MPs, with the moves by government to give a huge hike to their salaries and allowances being suddenly suspended. Let’s ignore the fact that he spoke only of the salary, and nothing of MPs allowances for attendance in Parliament, fuel, phone, free vehicle, subsidized meals, massage parlour, and other perks – and also a pension after only five years in Parliament- whether one has spoken a single word in the House through all that period or not; and better not judging from many MPs today.

With the trend in political activism moving towards coconut dashing and the grinding stone at shrines for demons and supposed deities, we learn that some MPs, not only of the Joint Opposition, but other groups too, are thinking of appealing to the supernatural to get higher salaries and even better allowances and other perks, as well as political gains.

The Sugar Village shrine, crypt or tomb, has gained increased popularity with the rituals performed there by Opposition politicians in recent weeks, and the belief among many that the recent power cuts and continuing drought are the favourable response of the "devol" or maddened spirit there, to the appeals made and the curses on the government and due to political rivalry in "yaahpaalanaya".

More importantly, there is backbench talk today that because of the privileges attached to Parliament, there should be a shrine or place dedicated to the Seenigama spirit in the Parliament premises, where MPs can easily make their appeals, with the dashing of coconuts, produced at public expense, and also grinding chillies, pepper, mustard and garlic (provided by the people) for the sambal offering made on the special grinding and hand stones kept for the purpose. The Speaker may have to appoint a special " devol achariya" skilled in chanting appeals to demons to call for curses on those the MPs want disabled, defeated or destroyed.

Those promoting the Seenigama shrine in Parliament see this as a new development in parliamentary tradition in the democratic world, where MPs can be sure of the curses of demons on their opponents, when political issues get too tough for parliamentary debate. They believe the Inter Parliamentary Union, in Geneva, where some Joint Opp members are having discussions with, will see this as a good entrance of Sri Lankan culture and tradition of demonic worship, to what is left of the Westminster style parliamentary process.

With the number of politicians participating in the Seenigama rituals of cursing and seeking revenge, political analysts see this developing as a new trend in patterns of worship in the country, where "Seenigama Devol" will have an even more important place than the traditional "Hooniyam" and "Gamey Deviyo" or village deity that have a place in rituals of home and family worship.

This has an impact on the economy with an increased demand for "miris gal" the grinding and hand stones, which have largely gone away from urban homes, as more people from all walks of life, including in the towns and cities, take to the rituals at home to curse rivals in married life, business, education, jobs and other aspects of life, There will also be increased job opportunities for the "devol acharyas" who will charge a fee, to come to one’s home and do the chanting while the demon sambal grinding goes on, and before and after dashing of coconuts. This will be a slight dip in unemployment, with spiritual help.

This will also see a considerable rise in the demand for coconuts, which will make it tougher for people to make "pol sambol" to eat with their more costly bread today, or make the "kiri hodi" or coconut milk gravy to have with their rice, which will be good for the coconut dealers, who may also dash coconuts to thank deities or demons for their fortune.

With the increasing crowds going to Seenigama Devale for the most effective curses on rivals in varied aspects of life, and the promotion given to this shrine and its resident demon by MPs and others in the Opposition, including those supportive of the Rajapaksa family, Sri Lanka is fast moving to another aspect in its cultural and spiritual life. We are going at express speed to the Age of the Grinding Stone and a Culture of Curses and Hatred. It will be difficult to see many deities known for goodness and compassion, having any place as they are ground out of the lives of people and politics.

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