President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa may not impose a lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19‘s deadly Delta variant because he has been advised against such a move before the Kandy Perahera is properly concluded by his trusted Soothsayer from Anuradhapura, Colombo Telegraph learns.
Gnanakka, a famous astrologer in Anuradhapura has been President Gotabaya’s trusted confidant ever since he took power in 2019. The President travels to Anuradhapura nearly every other weekend for advice and poojas to ward off evil spirits, highly placed sources told Colombo Telegraph. The special relationship with this soothsayer has strongly influenced policy decisions made by the GR administration, including the early decision to ban the import of turmeric into the island, the sources said. Based on the advice of the astrologer lady President Gotabaya Rajapaksa refers to as “ඥාණ මැණියෝ” (Mother Gnana), the President made the short-sighted decision to hold the Kandy Perahera against all medical advice. No spectators are allowed at the pageant, but the event includes some 5000 performers and support staff, and media teams are present for the live broadcast.
Sources close to the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said even he had been shocked by his younger brother’s exhortations during a recent high level discussion on shutting down the country to stop the spike in infections. Present at the meeting were also senior medical officers fiercely loyal to the administration who were strongly urging a strict lockdown and curfew for a minimum of two weeks, to spare the healthcare system which was being strained to its limit.
“We don’t make decisions lightly,” President Gotabaya is reported to have said at the meeting, the sources said. “It’s not like with other countries, the (Kandy) Perahera must be held with public participation according to Sri Lanka’s horoscope, says Gnana Maaniyo. The Perahera is going well so far. It is said that if the Perahera is not held, the “vas” (evil spirits) will impact me, as the leader of the country, I will become the sacrifice. Because of the Perahera, all the coronavirus deaths will be considered as sacrifices to the Goddess Kāli (Kā iAmma). They are sacrificing themselves for the future wellbeing and prosperity of the country,” the President reportedly claimed.
This was the true reason for the delay to lockdown the country against the virus, sources close to the PM said.
Main hospitals in Karapitiya, Negombo, Anuradhapura, Chilaw and Matara are fast running short of life-saving oxygen as doctors report an unending line of Covid-19 patients, most of whom require breathing support. Sri Lanka is inching closer to the tragic milestone of 200 deaths per day from Covid-19, with the country now ranked ninth in the world for the highest deaths to population ratio. 181 people perished from the virus on Wednesday (18). 10 powerful political parties aligned with the Government wrote to President Rajapaksa yesterday, begging him to impose a lockdown to prevent further loss of life.
The Rajapaksa family have long been associated with specific soothsayers and witch-doctors who grow in influence when the Brothers are in power. As rulers who govern by the sword, the family has a particular fear of their own mortality, and often obtain charms to ward off danger from trusted occult practitioners. During his presidency, Mahinda Rajapaksa clutched a golden sceptre believed to protect him from enemies and an untimely death.
Special security has been provided to the soothsayer’s residence in Anuradhapura, Colombo Telegraph learns. Village residents have reported heightened activity around the astrologer’s home, with Presidential Security Teams often arriving ahead of the President’s visit for a consultation. Sources close to the Palace have long insisted that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s dependency on Gnanakka is particularly acute, with the soothsayer fast becoming the most powerful woman in Sri Lanka. With the Perahera nearing its closure, it is likely that the Government will soon announce a temporary lockdown, the sources told Colombo Telegraph, provided the decision is green-lit by the President’s astrologer in Anuradhapura beforehand. (Nimal Ratnaweera)