Hate pervades the air and Kishaly Pinto Jayawardana finds out what a candle could do in such environment.
It is sadly grotesque that amidst the Avurudu time of reflection and thanksgiving, what prevails is exactly the opposite.
Just this week, in the Ratnapura District, plantation workers of Tamil ethnicity clashed with Sinhalese villagers ironically enough after a Sinhala and Tamil New Year musical show. The clash was apparently provoked by remarks hurled by a few Sinhalese youth at some Tamil girls in the crowd, leading to retaliatory abusive comments by (presumably male) defenders of the girls.
Vitriolic abuse by politico-religious lobbies
This would ordinarily have merely amounted to temporary tensions caused by too much unwise revelry. However, it escalated into a bigger problem underlying simmering tensions between the groups when surrounding villagers joined in the fracas, with the housing scheme where Tamil plantation workers lived in the area, later getting pelted with stones. While interventions by community elders had managed to prevent the situation from getting worse, the trigger point of distrust remains.
This is just one incident which underscores the ugly heightening of tensions between communities in this country where during recent months, Muslims and Tamils have been at the end of vitriolic racist abuse by highly vocal lobbies masquerading in religious garb. Predictably enough, such carefully orchestrated campaigns, which are allowed to run unfettered by this government, results in the spilling over of tensions into physical fisticuffs even in instances that would not normally be the case. Tellingly, the spate of similar incidents in recent times certainly exceeds occurrences of this nature, even at the worst of the war inflicted years.