Christian fanatics have installed a statue of Mary near an ancient temple in Sri Lanka. Earlier Christians had torn apart an arch put up by the temple in the same spot. Saivite dharma gurus have condemned the act and asked the Mannar diocese to remove the statue. They also called upon the government to stop missionaries from meddling in archeological heritage.
The ThiruKetheeswaram temple in Mannar is one of the five eminent Saivite temples known as Pancha Eshwram in Sri Lanka. The temple finds mention in Skanda Puranam and Ramayana and is believed to be the temple where Ravana’s queen Mandodari offered worship. It gained its name Ketheeswaram as Ketu is believed to have worshiped Eshwara in this kshetram. It was razed to the ground by the Portuguese in 1590. However the murtis and other important artifacts were kept hidden by Tamils. Legend says that the stones torn away from Thiruketheeswaram temple were used to build forts, lay foundation to church and the port in Mannar.
However philanthropic Tamil Hindus rebuilt the temple to its current splendor after 400 years. The first consecration ceremony was conducted in 1903 and the dharmikas who toiled to rebuild the temple bought 40 acres of land around the temple from the British and donated it. Lakhs of devotees throng the temple on Shivratri. As a longtime practice arches are put in front of the temple as part of the celebrations. However the Lourdu Mary church has been opposing it as the arch is erected a few feet from the church.
Hindus approached the court claiming they have papers to prove that they have permission to erect the arch. A case is pending in the court regarding the disputed land and temple authorities obtained permission from concerned authorities in 2019 to erect the arch for Shivratri. Christians tore down the arch and were seen stomping on the Nandi flag. The church said that some of their laity took matters into their own hand and that no priest was present when the arch was taken down.
Now the church has installed a statue of Mary in the disputed land, exactly where the arch is erected every year. Sri Lankan Saiva Mahasabha has condemned this act of Christian society in an attempt to hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus. Accusing the Christian community of trying to desecrate the historical temple, the organisation has called upon the Mannar diocese to remove the offending statue.
The organisation in its statement said that despite informing the higher officials about the developments, they failed to intervene. It has extended its support to the Thiruketheeswaram temple authorities as a representative of the Saivite community. The Hindu community has been facing threat from Sinhala Buddhists, Christians and Muslims and the latter two have been attempting to erase their culture by rampant conversion.