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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2737

Unity Amidst Diversity, Sri Lanka’s Strength, Recognized in Washington

By Philip Fernando for Asian Tribune

Washington D.C., 21 August, ( Recognition of Sri Lanka’s strength is an underlying trend beginning to take hold among all segments of people in the United States. Many I interviewed expressed their longing for strengthening of our common values rather than any negative aspects of division. It is quite visible judging by the comments of those in many of parts of the US. The beauty of togetherness is now being talked of among all sections of the people.Dr. Greg FernandopulleDr. Greg Fernandopulle

Here is one comment; “I have witnessed the attraction to getting bonded and helpful among all people. We get thousands at the Lord Murugan temple, who come here to worship from Washington, Virginia, Baltimore and even outer D.C. areas as well as New Jersey. It could be as large as 5,000 devotees on special days. The average may be close to a thousand”. Sivanathakuru Kurukkal was speaking of the trend seen in many parts of the US.

The Vedic Agama Center headed by Sivanathakuru is the gathering place for those seeking solace from their daily chores. The temple embodies deities Lord Ganeshan, Lord Shiva and Lord Muruga; it is very much like the famous Nallur Kamdasamy temple in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. Devotees at the renowned Kataragama temple also follow similar prayers to Lord Muruga.Saiva Sri Sivanathakuru KurukkalSaiva Sri Sivanathakuru Kurukkal

Sivanathakuru states that he had been to Kataragama as a child. We are united in spirit and our aspirations are for a united Sri Lanka. Despite the war, the Nallur temple in Jaffna has not been harmed, he said with a relief. It is a safe haven for everyone to raise their arms in prayer. They pray for “Shanthi” - peace and greater awareness of the inherent good in all of us.

Sivanathakuru is a Vedic scholar. He lives with his wife, son and daughter, occupying a beautiful home amidst a serene and quite setting in Lanham, Maryland. Sivanathakuru spoke of the ancient roots that brought out the modern trends on devotional activities. Mr. RanganathanMr. Ranganathan

Lord Muruga is a popular Hindu deity and is primarily worshiped in south India and Sri Lanka. At Kataragama both Buddhist and Hindu devotees come for prayers. In the south, the Sri Lankan the name used is Skanda. It is considered a God of war. The references to Murugan in Sanskrit literature can be traced back to the first millennium BCE.

Sivanathakuru chants the ancient Sanskrit slokas that invite everyone to the prayer. The temple was built in1999 and hold classes for students and elders on Fridays and weekends. The site has become a rallying ground for Sri Lankan and Indian devotees.

Aiyadurai and Kanaja Ranganathans, regular participants at the Sri Lankan functions in Washington D.C. for decades expressed the need to get everyone united. We have seen the best of times during our long stay here and the aspiration of people to be close to each other is quite visible now. Ranganathans along with their three daughters Nanadhini, Kumudhini and Dhayalini have been in the area for over 30 years. The longing for pace is inherently all pervasive. People pray all the time for peace at home. The Bhajan and Sangham devotional paths have been a source of inspiration to the people who are adherents of peace and unity, Ranganathans expressed. Mrs. RanganathanMrs. Ranganathan

In their beautiful home within close proximity to the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington D.C., there is a sense of accomplishment and contentment. When the US Millennium project to help Sri Lankan was mooted, we thought it would be completed within a short time. But things took a turn for the worse and funds were cut off. Now there is a possibility that it will be resurrected, they said.

The Ranganathans added: “We celebrate the wholeness of life in its entire splendor. There are no divisions, but complete unity and spiritual awareness of the goodness surrounding all of us”. The forward looking attitude that has engulfed them is quite contagious judging by the people who feel the same way about the future in and around D.C. They have been supporters of the Sri Lankan embassy for years and would continue to do so.

Dr. Greg Fernandopulle of Washington spoke with an ardent desire to be instrumental in getting people together. He and his wife hailed from Dankotuwa, Sri Lanka and was a great supporter of late Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle who was assassinated by the LTTE this year. They said that their son and daughter graduated from Harvard and had seen the Sri Lankans living in harmony in all types of situations. The time for forging real unity is now, they believe. They are regular parishioners at the famous Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C.

They spoke with sorrow about the passing away of late Fernandopulle, a man of compassion, who inspired many to work for unity. He showed a lot of promise and led the path towards greater good of all. Dr. Fernandopulle said that the priorities are changing and we see a trend towards togetherness and a riveting demonstration of the Sri Lanka’s strength amidst diversity.

We are happy to note that the new Ambassador Jaliya wickramasuriya has visited the main churches, temples, mosques and kovils in the area. The impact he had augurs well for the future.

- Asian Tribune -

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