Colombo is under heavy guard with thousands of troops maintaining peace. People went around yesterday forcing people to close their shops today.
Already, thousands of people have gathered to view the Buddhist monks body. It’s barely sunrise.
The cremation is scheduled for noon.
Fahim and I aren’t going anywhere today.
A man by the name of Lalithkotalawela is apparently the man responsible for converting and then marrying off poor women. I didn’t realize it until now, but it’s actually an organized efforts, not just occasional women. He’s a millionaire philanthropist and he’s trying to help the poor, but it’s viewed by others as he’s just trying to convert people to Christianity this way. It’s also said that he’s eying the presidency in Sri Lanka.
Personally, I can understand people looking at his activities with suspicion. I don’t think people should convert to another religion simply to please a spouse, to gain a spouse, to gain financial help, or any of those things. On the other hand, if that’s the choice these women have made, leave them alone – assuming no one is forcing them. It’s their choice.
There’s next to nothing on the news about the whole thing. Either it’s all rumour and innuendo, or the media isn’t talking about it because they know that if they do, it’ll only inflame the situation even more. If people hear about rioting on the news, they’ll go join in and everything will be even worse.
We won’t really know until it’s all over. So we sit at home and watch the news and wait and see what we see.
It’s 5pm and they still haven’t burned the body. Other Buddhist monks are speaking at the service, some of them trying to inflame the crowd. Most of the television stations are doing a live broadcast of the service.
About the churches being burned and the talk of rioting – thus far, it’s all rumour and inuendo. The government apparently approached the media yesterday asking them to not talk about what can be avoided. If there actually were church burnings or riotings, then talking on the news about it would only incite further burnings and riotings. So we’ve had very little news on the whole situation – with the exception of the Buddhist’s service. That was on all the stations. So we have actually no idea at all about what is, in reality, happening in this country.
When Fahim was at work, he checked news sources on the internet, and there was more news available there than on the news stations here.
Back to the Buddhist monk’s funeral. One monk at it was speaking against pretty much everyone against the Buddhists. He apparently thinks that the Christians are out to convert everyone, the Muslims are encroaching on the Buddhists’ land, and the Buddhists are getting lax in their own faith. If they don’t do something now, then the Buddhists will lost their majority in government and will lose their power and their rights. Never mind that the Buddhists have some 70% plus of the population, and it would take massive amounts of Muslims having large families – which they can’t afford to do either, by the way, and Christians doing a heckuvalot of proselyting over the next several hundred years for the Buddhists to lose their majority status in this country.
Seriously, how can anyone but the Buddhists have control of the country for a long long time?
At the cremation service, which we watched for a while on the tellie, there were thousands upon thousands of people in attendance. What was interesting is that a lot of them – male and female – were crying. This Buddhist monk either meant something to them, or they thought he meant something to them, or . . .
Oh, and another thing. Apparently it was planned to have his funeral on Christmas Eve. To spite the Christians.
There were requests (demands?) by the monks at the service that there be no firecrackers. For New Years, they want no one celebrating, no firecrackers for that either, no partying, nothing. They want the country – the entire country, it seems to me – to be in a state of mourning for weeks.
As another side note, stores were open today, Fahim told me. I was a good little girl and stayed home and didn’t allow myself to be seen. Better to play it safe. Fahim also said there was a relatively normal amount of traffic on the road, and as far as he could tell, people were doing business like normal. So much for the imposed state of mourning.