Army limits Sivaraathiri festivals attendance

[TamilNet, Saturday, 13 February 1999, 16:00 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Army (SLA) has allowed only one hundred devotees to attend the midnight Pooja of the Maha Sivaraathiri festival at the Thiruketheeswaram temple in the Mannar district tomorrow.

They have to be registered today with the temple management to obtain admission from the SLA. The have to be at the temple by 5 p.m. tomorrow.

Thiruketheeswaram is one of the five recognised Eeshvarams of Siva dotted around the island.

Ancient Sinhala Buddhist chronicles claim that this was one of the five Siva temples which were worshipped by the inhabitants of the island before the arrival of Buddhism around 200 B.C.

The Thiruketheeswaram temple was reconstructed and endowed by the Saivite Cholas of South India (900-1200 AD) when Sri Lanka was part of their powerful empire.

Thousands of Saivite Tamils from many parts of the island used to congregate here for the Maha Sivaraathiri vigil during this time of the year until the SLA moved into the outer grounds of the temple in 1990.

Several appeals by Saivite Tamil organisations to the Sri Lankan government over the years seeking the withdrawal of the SLA from Thiruketheeswaram's vicinity have fallen on deaf years, say officials of the temple trustee board.


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