I have realized, again, that this world, as usual, is a ‘heavenly’
land full of religion, religious hatred and a land of people at the
height of their barbarism, passed on through thousands of years of
This time it were Buddhist monks who opened my eyes.
We barely managed to escape with our lives yesterday. The hatred
could continue today, tomorrow or even days after this has passed.We
could be sliced down by hundred swords bearing people… me, my family, or
the child in our house.
You will probably remember, I wrote about the Buddhist temple close
to our house, the loud Pirith chanting, and the festivities that were
relayed over the loudspeaker a few months ago.
When we moved to this house it was but a small Buddha statue under a
Bo tree. Now it covers a much bigger extent.It is the 10th anniversary
of the Pansala. And I think they have holy days in October.Yesterday was
the 10th day.
On each of these 10 days they start broadcasting songs of Nanda
Malini at exactly 3pm. The same song would be broadcast, on a loop, till
6pm. Young students of the Sunday schools would broadcast their radio
programs in between. They would usually broadcast religious doctrines,
religious songs and pious thoughts.
This does not happen only during the anniversary celebrations. It
happened everyday beginning from 6pm. But this time it commenced at 3pm
and ends around 10pm.
The house we live in has two storeys. There are no other upstairs
houses in the vicinity.Two loudspeakers had been tied across from our
house, right opposite our wall. One of the loudspeakers would wail at
our room. Our doors would vibrate like a tuning fork. The bed would
vibrate. The chairs would vibrate. The plates would vibrate.The other
loudspeaker would similarly harass our Muslim neighbors, who lived
opposite to our house.
I’ve had migraine for a while now. Only a person with migraine can ever
say how, when or why one could get a migraine. Nothing else could be
predicted about them.
From 6pm to 10pm high decibel ‘Bana’ is broadcast and the monks also
deliver their teaching.The recorded Bana is played till early morning.
The Perahera commences at 3am. Every day, the Perahara consists of
lashing, drums, ghost dancing and fire torches. Then at 6 am the
procession would end near our house.
I am not exaggerating here,
The teachings would explicitly and implicitly include,
1) How Buddhists are unable to maintain order and unity within Buddhism, unlike other religions.
2) How our religious teachings should be said loud and clear for others to hear.
3) How this is a Buddhist country, and how there should be nothing else other than Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
Yesterday, I went to them for the third time.
The first time, I spoke directly to the Chief monk and kindly asked
him to reduce the volume. Not to stop.The second time, with obedience
and humility unusual for me, I asked them at least if they could direct
the loudspeakers not pointing to our house.Last night was the third
time. The final day of the events.
Since 10pm we were waiting for the noise to be over, yet it remained
and after 12pm it was giving us immense discomfort.I went downstairs. We
went.Very quietly and very gently we asked an elderly gentleman present
if we could speak to those concerned.
‘What is the problem?’
‘There is no problem. Could you reduce the volume? I have “migraine headache”.
The worshipers were quietly listening to the speaker.
I don’t know where they came from. Initially there were around 15 of them.
‘Come inside, we can talk’.
‘I did not come to argue or debate. If you could, can you please reduce the volume?’
Another 15 of them came in an instant. Suddenly, we were trapped within a circular formation.
‘I don’t intend to oppose this. But the sound levels are affecting me”.
The noise did not allow us to even talk or discuss with them.
Suddenly, several Buddhist monks, including some in maroon robes, rushed towards us. One called himself the Chief monk.
The air was filled with the stench of alcohol (an ordinary person cannot chant Bana all day without compulsory mild stimulant).
‘Meka Sinhala Bauddha ratak. Api mehmemai’
‘Umbala Para Dhemala ,