Power and Religiosity in a Post-Colonial Setting: Sinhala by R. L. Stirrat

By R. L. Stirrat

This examine of spiritual switch and cultural fragmentation in modern Sri Lanka makes a speciality of a sequence of latest Catholic shrines that allure hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. Their repute relies, between different issues, on their efficacy as facilities for demonic exorcism, assuaging anguish and assisting humans to discover jobs. the writer appears to be like on the upward push of those shrines relating to the ancient adventure of the Catholic group in Sri Lanka, instead of by way of narrowly outlined spiritual standards. valuable to this broader nonreligious context is the function of strength and particularly the influence of put up colonialism at the small Roman Catholic inhabitants.

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In this, attendance at the feasts of obligation, confession and the various life cycle rituals of the Church was recorded, along with payment of church dues. Non-payment of dues or failure to attend the prescribed rituals could mean that the whole family was refused the sacraments of the Church. In constructing the parish and novena organisation, the missionaries worked on the assumption that there were substantial entities such as 'village' and 'caste'. However, during the early nineteenth century such entities were highly fluid, and by making them the basis of parish organisation priests imbued them with a new substantiality.

Buddhism is a dormant system', announced The Catholic Messenger, 'and every effort to rouse it from its deathlike slumber is destined to total failure' {CM 20 July 1883). And of the Church, Nothing can check her progress because she is endowed with a divine vitality and a supernatural power ... because she is THE TRUE RELIGION [sic] and truth will always win. {CM 10 September 1909) Priests appear to have encouraged the violence. The Committee of Enquiry into the Kotahena riot blamed the local priests for organising the Catholic mob, whilst immediately after the riot The Messenger claimed that, However peaceful Catholics may be, they are not people who will stand any nonsense and ...

Thus The Messenger attempted to claim that, Religion is not an element of nationality ... The evidence of history goes to show that Buddhism was not the guiding force in the formation and development of Sinhalese national life. 22 The argument as to whether Sinhalese Catholics were 'denationalised' was not just a matter of rhetoric: it also concerned power and access to power. The Catholic educational system was crucial here. By the 1930s the Catholics were generally considered to have the best school system in the country, and Church control over these schools was continually attacked by Buddhists and other nationalist groups.

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