Last Saturday morning while relaxing on my armchair I heard a beautiful song played over the radio titled Kusumalatha Ramalingam written by the veteran lyricist Sunil T.Gamage which spoke about the plight of a young girl born to a Sinhala mother and a Tamil father. The youngster sang that her name is Kusumalatha Ramalingam and was questioning Lord Buddha and Lord Murugan as to her non-acceptance by both communities one in the South and the other in the North of her country for she was unable to understand the reason. She sang ‘I know the Subashitha and also the Tirukkural but please tell me where do I, find the answer to this problem.’ She appeared to be lost on the road from the clash of cultures to the meeting of the minds. Plainly put isn’t this the question that is plaguing our Nation today?
Mundane questions such as the demand to sing the national anthem in Tamil and Sinhala seem to take center stage on the road from the clash of the cultures. In Sri Lanka the National Anthem has been sung in Sinhala from the time it was introduced with the participation of all Sri Lankans of all communities without any heartaches and with the intervention of the diaspora and other parties hell bent on de-stabilizing our Nation this matter has been brought up to create disunity among our people. Even in India home to the large majority of Tamils the National Anthem is not sung in Tamil. The Indian National anthem, composed originally in Bengali by Rabindranath Tagore, was adopted in its Hindi version by the Constituent Assembly as the National Anthem of India on 24 January 1950. It was first sung 27 December 1911 at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress. The complete song consists of five stanzas. The lyrics were rendered into English by Tagore himself. Thus it is very clear that this question is brought up in Sri Lanka by people interested in creating a division among our people.
Sinhalese culture encompasses many rituals and tradition which are greatly influenced by Buddhist festivals as well as Hindu rituals. A majority of Sri Lankan Tamils follow Hindu customs and traditions similar to south Indian rituals. A great majority of the Sinhalese including the President and a majority of the Ministers in the Cabinet and Members of Parliament are devotees of Lord Murugan and pray at the Kataragama Devale on a regular basis while the Tamil Hindus are also devout followers of Lord Murugan. Both the Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil Hindu communities celebrate the New Year on the same date in April and follow the same auspicious times on that day.
The conflicts and rifts between the two communities that have been magnified to unprecedented proportions by disgruntled politicians greedy for power and the diaspora aided by the USA and allied Western Nations aiming to establish a puppet regime in Sri Lanka have been principally based on the use of language. The President has realized this fact and established a separate Ministry for National Integration and has himself studied the Tamil Language and delivers his speeches in Tamil also to the great acceptance of our Tamil brethren.
It is a fact that one’s own language and culture are precious to their own people and all other communities must respect such differences when living side by side in a multiethnic multicultural society. The Sinhala Buddhists worship Lord Buddha who was born in India and have great veneration for Him as the Greatest Human Being ever born on Earth who preached loving kindness to all living beings as one of the basic tenets of that great Buddhist philosophy. Similarly they also have a great regard for Indian Statesmen such as Mahathma Gandhi and Great Indian Poets like Rabindranath Tagore.
The purported ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka could be amicably resolved by a meeting of the minds of the leaders of the two communities by consultation, compromise and reaching of a final consensus without unwarranted foreign interventions. As the President has said time and again leave Sri Lanka alone in order to reach its own homegrown solution to any disputes that we Sri Lankans may have among ourselves without meddling in the internal affaires of a sovereign state which plea seems to have fallen on the deaf ears of the USA and its allied Western countries. The obstacles placed in the path of reaching such a consensus is due to interested parties having other political agendas up their sleeves and interfering in reaching such a peaceful amicable solution in order to feather their own nests. Our Tamil brethren in the North have held many rallies and exhorted their brethren in the diaspora from attacking Sri Lanka as they have unequivocally held that they are living happily in Sri Lanka with love and friendship from their Sinhala brethren,
Our little island is too small to be divided into many parts. It is obvious that a State of Eelam if established in the North will lead to many problems for our Tamil brethren living and engaged in lucrative businesses in the South Similarly it will adversely affect the other communities living in Sri Lanka as well. Following the defeat of LTTE, pro-LTTE political party Tamil National Alliance (TNA), also the largest political group representing Sri Lankan Tamil community, dropped its demand for a Tamil Eelam, in favour of a federal solution. There are ongoing bilateral talks between President Rajapaksa‘s UPFA government and the TNA, on a viable political solution and devolution of power. Pro Tamil groups advocating independence for Tamil areas of Sri Lanka continue to run websites and radio telecasts. Since May 19, 2009 Tamil Eelam has ceased to exist as a physical entity but remains as political aspiration among sections of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora. Let all Sri Lankans pray and hope that the meeting of the minds of our leaders would solve this problem forever.
Let all Sri Lankans forget their differences and forgive each other for the mistakes of the past which has caused untold misery and harm to our people and live peacefully united as one in our little beautiful Pearl of the Indian Ocean.
In conclusion let me say with Lord Alfred Tennyson as he said in his famous poem the Idylls of the King on differences and disputes thus:
It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.