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The destruction and desecration of the Temple of the Tooth -The Dalada Maligawa

Long after their tears have dried, the Buddhists of this country, particularly those of Senkadagalapura, will continue to grieve for years to come over the destruction and desecration of the abode of the Dalada Vahanse by Tamil terrorists on 25th January 1998.

The Entrance to the Maligawa - the epicenter of the bomb blast.

Kanda Uda Pasdun Korale, the five outlying districts of the ancient Senkadagalapura or Kandy of today, are richly endowed with numerous temples and monuments built by the twelve kings of Kandy who ruled between 1469 and 1815. The Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa) complex is undoubtedly the most lustrous gem of them all. It is one of most sacred and venerated places of World Buddhists in general and Sri Lankan Buddhists in Particular, like Kahaba to Muslims and St.Peters to Christians.

The enormity of the damage done to this national treasure of immeasurable value became clearer as each day passed since the fateful Sunday. Foolhardy men pronounced the damage could be repaired in a few days but the more knowledgeable say it will take a couple of years to do so. Even then the restoration of a 400 years old building with ancient wall paintings such as at the Maligawa can never be carried out to anywhere near perfection, nor the desecration obliterated. The damage done to the serene Natha Devale and the magnificent St. Paul's Cathedral adds to the nation's grief.

The hole created by the blast and the destruction to the entrance

Hence on 25th January 2001 and beyond, we should observe this day as one of mourning and contemplation on man's lust for power and man's disregard for the greatness of past achievements. The sad and pathetic situation we have sunk to in practically every sphere of life since 1948 has been driven home to us by the blasting of the Tamil terrorist bomb in the precincts of the Maligawa. Let us remember this fact and attempt to atone, and show our determination to protect our heritage as we reflect each 25th January on the carnage of the date in 1998

The spot where the bomb exploded and the destruction caused to the Natha Devala
The explosives and other weapons brought by the LTTE terrorists

 

Half burnt uniform of the LTTE terrorist who came in the lorry loaded with explosives

 

The destruction to the Entrance and Roofs

The LTTE's babarism and brutality reached its highest levels when they bombed the Temple of Tooth at 6.25 am on January 25, 1998. Several people including children who came to pay their homage to the Temple died on the spot. The blast destroyed a significant part of this historic and sacred Temple of Tooth and along with it destroyed most of the ancient paintings, ancient books and other artefacts of Sinhalese Buddhist culture.

Miraculously the Sacred Tooth and the ancient building in which it was housed remained intact with only some structural damages to the plasters and the walls.

The real intention of LTTE was to attack and destroy the hearts of the Sinhalese Buddhists. The Temple of Tooth is the symbolic centre of the Sinhalese Buddhists. By attacking and destroying it, LTTE wanted to hit the very core of Sinhalese.

While the LTTE committed the act, the government must also share part of the responsibility for the failure to provide adequate security to the Temple of Tooth. Three years after the incident, the same government publicly declared that it couldn't afford to provide security to the temple.

This amply prove the government's lack of resolve to protect and foster Buddhism although it is the constitutional duty of the government.

The misguided view of the government that there is an ethnic problem in Sri Lanka in which the Sinhalese discriminate against the Tamils preclude the government from doing anything for the Sinhalese and Buddhists except to blame them.

Thus government through policy measures, ideological pressures and powers, and use of force prevent public expression of Sinhala identity. Thus Sinhalese have become passive group of people who have become desensitised and expressionless even when they loose what is most dear and sacred to them.

Only, the Sihala Urumaya had organised a meeting and a peaceful march and a Pooja at the temple to remind the people of the country of the heinous act of the LTTE. The meeting and the peace march were a success.

Most people including the Sinhalese and Sinhalese Buddhists both in Sri Lanka and abroad have never seen the destruction caused to the Temple by LTTE bomb because the government deliberately prevented from people visiting the temple until the whole thing was cleared.

These photographs show taken almost immediately after the Bomb attack shows the real destruction. The photographs speak for themselves

 

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