A common religious practice as a peace building tool?

Long a war ridden country between the Sinhalese Buddhist community and the Tamil Hindus, Sri Lanka is healing its wounds after more than two decades of civil war.

Again we see that religion, often a factor of division, has the potential to become a tool of reconciliation as Malathi de Alwis and photographer Sharni Jayawarden show in their photographic exhibition “invoking the Goddess.” The exhibition explores worship of the deity Pattini Kannaki, a goddess of fertility and health who is shared by both major religious groups on the island.

Poosari (priest) dressed up as (and possessed by) the goddess, Kannaki Amman Kovil, Thandanveli, Batticaloa

Poosari (priest) dressed up as (and possessed by) the goddess, Kannaki Amman Kovil, Thandanveli, Batticaloa

The fascinating website displays the different festivals and rituals performed by both communities with splendid photographs, complemented by in depth information on the history and actual context of the deity in Sri Lanka. But, most importantly, it focuses on the commonality of this worship between the two communities, which many practitioners are unaware of. This effort to cover the religious practices, and to bind together the 2 communities in the exhibition is remarkable and can help show one way for spiritual reconciliation.

See these vibrant religious celebrations here 


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