Religious festivals and national unity


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By F. M. Anthony
The recently-concluded Wesak celebrations saw countrywide illuminations and decorations which were so pleasing to the eye and so fitting for the occasion. This year was no exception as traditionally we see such colourful and beautiful decorations all over the country during the season of Wesak. In fact people come from faraway places to view the illuminations and decorations in urban towns.



What was striking was the participation of Public Bodies in the putting up of decorations. Government buildings, including those of State Banks and even some Police Stations were illuminated and decorated for the festival. This participation of public bodies in a religious festival is possible on account of the fact that the country is not a secular state. Be that as it may it is also necessary to realize that the country is a multi-racial, multi religious and multi-cultural society. Are we merely paying lip service to this fact or do we truly consider our society to be so `Multi’? 

If we do, then state bodies should be required to similarly decorate and illuminate their premises for at least one religious festival of each of the other main religions of the country. This will go a long way to create an identity for our people as Sri Lankans in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi religious society. The biggest stumbling block for national reconciliation and unity is the majority ideology also called the dominant ideology.  This ideology makes people of minority races and religions feel second class, which should not be so if it is truly a society of multiple compositions, where equality prevails.



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