COLOMBO: Defeated Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is harnessing supernatural as well as temporal forces in a determined bid to come back to power through the June parliamentary elections.
On Monday, he made a ceremonial offering of a gold plated trisulam (a trident associated with Lord Siva) at the ancient Murugan temple in Kataragama (Kadirgamam) in South Lanka. Murugan or Skanda is the Lankan God of War.
Media reports said Rajapaksa was emulating the IInd Century BC Sinhalese Prince Dutugamunu, who invariably made such an offering at Kataragama before going on military expeditions. Dutugamunu is celebrated for defeating Elara, a Chola nobleman, who is seen as a “Tamil usurper”. But historian Prof S Pathmanathan told Express that the trisulam-giving ritual’s link with Dutugamunu is only a fable. “The Murugan temple at Kataragama did not exist at the time of Dutugamunu. There is no mention of it in the Mahawamsa which dwells on the exploits of Dutugamunu. References to the temple appear only in a 15th century Pali chronicle of Burmese origin,” he said.
However, by publicising the offering and its “historical antecedents”, Rajapaksa has clearly indicated his desire to recapture power from “usurpers”.
On February 18, some small parties belonging to Rajapaksa’s United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) held a rally at Nugegoda and gave a clarion call for his return to save the majority Sinhalese from Tamil separatism and Western domination. In a message to the rally Rajapaksa said he was “not defeated but was cheated by a conspiracy.”
Rajapaksa is supposedly in self-imposed exile at his ancestral home in Tangalle, but is receiving bus-loads of people every day who plead with him to give them leadership. However, Rajapaksa’s party, SLFP, kept out of the Nugegoda rally, though some party MPs attended.