Historic Hindu Pattini claim to Madhu Church
by Shenali Waduge on 02 Feb 2014 5 Comments

With the recent calls to rewrite history, there is no better a time than now to bring out all the hard facts that have been hidden or buried (pun intended). Every time the topic of colonial atrocities is brought forward for debate, the quick response is to claim these as history and push to the background the crimes committed in the name of peaceful coexistence. However, when most of the laws in place today were created with the intention of putting past crimes into the background and ensure continuance of the reign of white rule over the rest of us who are victims, it is time we started to remind these very nations some of their crimes.


The background of the Pattini devale is important for many reasons: it is where the Madhu Church presently stands, the Pattini devale has a history beyond 18 centuries, whereas the Madhu Church is hardly 150 years old. Misappropriation of sacred sites belonging to other religions needs to stop. The Church must apologize and return the site to its original owners.


Of late, media has tried to portray the Madhu Church as being more than 600 years old, which is an exaggeration as the Portuguese Catholics came to Sri Lanka in 1505 and Catholic history starts after the conversion of Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil Hindus. In fact, a recommendation was to be made under the Ranil Wickremasinghe Government to the Vatican that the Church be sanctified as a National Basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. How historically and morally incorrect this move is to the Hindus who are well aware of the history behind the ‘Church”.


Anyone contesting this claim has only to refer to the ‘Brief notice of the origin and history of the Sanctuary of Madhu” by the then Bishop of Jaffna to Mr. EB Denham who had tried to conceal that the Church was on top of the ancient Pattini Devale, as admitted by British civil servant RW Levers. They may also refer to ‘Manual of the North Central Province’ by RW Levers: “At the present day the offerings are generally taken to St. Mary's Church at Madu, which is considered by the Buddhist and a great many of the Tamil pilgrims, who resort there, as the Temple of Pattini Amma (Amman Kovil)”. These are historically recorded truths by the British themselves.



-        Portuguese Catholics arrive in Sri Lanka – 1505

-        Dutch Christians arrive in Sri Lanka – 1602

-        British arrive in Sri Lanka – 1796

-        Dutch Protestants expel Portuguese from Mannar – 1670 (344 years ago)

-        Madhu a Catholic shrine only since 1870 (a history of 144 years only)

-        Even though the Bishop of Jaffna initiated the Madhu Festival since 1870 there was no  Church

-        The foundation stone of the Church was laid only in 1876 (so the Church itself is only 138 years old and thus the claims made by the late UNP Minister that the Church is 600 years old is a total fabrication). Moreover, even by 1911 there were no permanent residents at Madhu; Census 1911 recorded 320 pilgrims, 230 of whom were Sinhalese from Colombo and the rest from Chilaw.


Hindus have greater claim


The site where Madhu Church presently stands was the original site of a Pattini Devale (later called Amman Kovil) since 114-136 CE under King Gajabahu. This means that the Pattini Devale has been where the Madhu Church now stands for over 18 centuries. If the Pattini Devale is no longer at its original site, it is because the Portuguese Catholics destroyed every place of worship that was non-Catholic and converted non-Catholics to Catholicism. These conversions were done by force and anyone resisting faced death. We are well aware of the suffering the Catholic Inquisition inflicted on all non-Catholics and heretics; because the Dutch themselves were victims, they avenged their sufferings when they arrived in Sri Lanka and in the 1538 Treaty between the Dutch and the Sinhala King provided a clause to expel all Catholics.


The Madhu site is where the Hindu Amman Kovil stood. The Catholic Church needs to accept that the Church usurped this ancient Hindu temple; desecrated the Durgai Amman Silai; and built a Catholic Church in its place in 1876; the annual Madhu Festival began in 1870.


The usurping of the Hindu kovil is very much part of the Inquisition objectives and a continuation of the wanton destruction of scores of temples, kovils, and murder of Muslims by the Portuguese Catholics. The Church clergy may not like to be reminded that they ordered the beheading of the last Tamil Hindu ruler Sangili Kumaran and conversion of his family. Tamils should not forget that it was the Sinhalese King who sent his General to rescue the Hindu Tamils and in so doing sacrificed his life. Therefore all Catholics in Sri Lanka descend from Sinhalese and Tamils who were forcibly converted by the Portuguese Catholics. 


At this point we need to remind the Hindus that prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505, the Sinhalese and Hindus were living amicably. It was the arrival of the White man that brought a curse to the country since then. Hindus and Buddhists became united through the efforts to bring about the anti-conversion legislation. We recall the efforts of UNP MP Maheswaran who tried his best to reconvert Tamils to Hinduism but fell prey to the LTTE’s guns. So did six soldiers who were cleaning the Madhu church premises on 12 Feb 2008. http://video.aol.com/video-detail/thalladi-church-damaged-in-ltte-artillery-attack-12-feb-2008/3333123459


While the Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka says sacred places should be kept free of violence and bloodshed, we cannot but wonder why they are silent about very prominent Catholic clergy who had been and continue to be involved with the LTTE and their sponsors locally and internationally. The accusation of Church connections with the LTTE could have been easily negated by the Church taking action against these Catholic clergy by de-robing them. The golden question is – why has the Church not taken action against these clergy who have been very much aligned to terrorist activity.


Father Rayappu Joseph opened Eelam House in London and allowed the Madhu Church to be used as an LTTE office. Recall the arrests of three priests on February 1, 2008 carrying suicide jackets; interrogations revealed that they had brought down 30 suicide cadres from Mannar to Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. The priests (one a pastor of a church in Mannar) had even transported several suicide kits and weapons. On February 20, 2007, security forces recovered cyanide capsules and equipment from St. Mary’s Church Jaffna. What we can make out is that the Christian clergy had been used to transport weapons and explosives across the country – this is aiding and abetting terrorism.


What individual priests do using the cover of the religion can be effectively responded to not simply by issuing a statement denouncing the action. Given the innumerable cases of involvement by priests with a banned terrorist movement, the Church and its headquarters in the Vatican should have de-robed those like Father Emmanuel and Father Rayappu Joseph.


Returning to the issue of the ownership of the Madhu site, all that needs to be repeated is that the place is rightfully that of the Pattini Kovil of the Hindus. It is immoral for the site to be usurped and made into a Holy site for Catholics, totally ignoring the history behind the site. Numerous other sites across the country where Churches stand were all formerly sites of Buddhist temples as well, and are listed in the works of the Portuguese chronicler Queyroz.


The continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America were all invaded, occupied and systems put in place to convert the natives, kill those who refused, plunder the wealth of the lands and devise devious ways to play the natives against each other by creating sub-cultures that would create the necessary environment for these White Western nations to prevail over the ‘uncivilized’ world. Has any of this colonial mentality changed at all over the years? Be that as it may be, what needs to be said is that the very countries ignoring their own track records are dictating the rules of law to us the victims, and all we can say is to return all that they took by force and level the playing field first.

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