//Catholic or Buddhist? Debate still on

Catholic or Buddhist? Debate still on

Newindpress.com / January 17 2006

Catholic or Buddhist? Debate still on

GURUVAYUR: Even after repeated clarifications from Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Nirupama Rao, the controversy over the religion of Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s wife continues. The Sri Lankan media continued its tirade, maintaining that Siranthi Rajapakse is a ‘practising Roman Catholic Christian’.

The ‘Asian Tribune’ confirmed that Siranthi is a Roman Catholic. ‘‘Kerala state protocol officer said there was no room for a controversy over the issue as it had been ascertained from Colombo that Rajapakse’s wife is a Buddhist – Who was responsible for this report confirming President’s wife as a Buddhist, when she is a practising Roman Catholic,’’ it asked.

Conflicting clarifications and media reports are likely to land the temple administrator and the Government in soup. The onus is now on the government to clarify whether Siranthi Rajapakse is a Buddhist by birth or a converted Buddhist

If the Lankan First Lady is a converted Buddhist, routine ‘poojas’ from Dec 30, 2005 will have to be redone. As per the customs at Guruvayur temple, the only ‘certificate of conversion’ accepted there is the one issued by the Arya Samajam, Kozhikode. The Devaswom does not accept conversion certificates issued by any other Hindu organisation.

The rituals and ‘poojas’ performed at Guruvayur temple dates back to the times of Adi Sankara, who is said to have scheduled them. These rituals are strictly followed by the Devaswom authorities. The delay in getting an authentic clarification will in turn increase the number of ‘poojas’ to be repeated from the date of the Presidential visit. This will create inconvenience to thousands of devotees who throng here everyday.

According to Thantri Chennas Raman Namboothiripad, Devaswom administrator K.Anil Kumar had informed the Devaswom that Siranthi is a Buddhist. But to ensure whether the First Lady is a Buddhist by birth or whether she is a converted Buddhist is the responsibility of the Guruvayur Devaswom. 

All said, the final decision will have to be taken by the temple ‘thanthri’ upon hearing from the State Government. Any violations in the customs and tradition followed at Guruvayur temple will lead to serious controversies.