Posted on November 19th, 2023


Revised 24.11.23

The Tamil Separatist Movement continued to obstruct and harass the Kurundi project.   On 3rd October 2018 a group of MPs from Colombo visited Kurundi. A group of Tamils confronted them  and there was an argument with Tamil MPs and residents.  

On February 4th 2022 Ven. Santhabodhi had planned to hold a pinkama at Kurundi with 40 monks reciting Seth pirit. But that morning a group led by MPs Sumanthiran and   Rasamanickam came to Kurundi together with a media team and challenged them. They announced over the media that work on Kurundi must stop immediately at it was affecting their independence. They said that  there is a historic kovil at Kurundi and the restoration work on Kurundi vihara was obstructing kovil worship. They will go to courts and Sumanthiran will appear for them. The pinkama was held that evening.  

 Ven.  Santhabodhi was informed that Raviharan had planned to hold a Kovil puja at Kurundi on June 22, 2022 but   had decided against it .

 In July 2022 Ven. Kirulapone Dhammavijaya was planning to hold a pinkama as well as a dharma desanaya at Kurundi for Esala but they were told that Tamil protestors were planning to turn up on that day and security was not keen on the event. The pinkama was therefore held at Sapumalgaskada. Two busloads of worshippers turned up having heard about this.    20 monks also came and the bana was broadcast on media.  Many got to know about Kurundi this way. It was a very successful Poya day celebration, said Santhabodhi.  


Tamil Separatist Movement strongly opposed any surveying of the Kurundi land. They tried to stop all surveying of Kurundi. The description given in the book ‘Kurundi Vihara Vamsaya” on the survey work is confusing.  This is what it said.

 The first account is as follows: The boundary stones were set in August 2022 without any fuss or opposition, said Santhabodhi.  On September 18, 2022 MP Charles Nirmalanathan had come to Kurundi to inspect the boundary stones. He told the media that Kurundi had grabbed 600 acres belong to Tamil farmers.  Three was opposition brewing against the boundary stones, said Santhabodhi.

Survey Department team was due to arrive at Kurundi for further surveying. The Tamil Separatist Movement with the support of the Tamil officers in Mullaitivu had planned a demonstration for September 22 when the Survey Department officers were due to arrive to survey the land.

The second account says that while the surveying was going on, Department of Archaeology informed Santhabodhi on 2022. 9. 20 to stop the surveying of the Kurundi reserve. A Tamil MP had informed Minister for Buddha Sasana, Vidura Wickramanayake that the Archaeology Department was     trying to seize paddy lands which belonged to the Tamil farmers.

 Minister ordered D/Archaeology to stop the survey immediately.  Work done for two years over the boundary was halted, said Santhabodhi .     Santhabodhi  criticized the  Minister’s action. The Minister should have investigated the matter  first. We had worked hard for two years on this matter. Minister   has simply accepted the Tamil complaint.  Minister Vidura Wickramanayake was earlier  with us, why  this change, asked Santhabodhi . 

The third account is as follows:  The Tamil Separatist Movement had taken the Kurundi matter to Supreme Court. Supreme Court had therefore  asked the Survey Department to send them a map of the Kurundi ruins. On September 6, 2022,  the survey team arrived under police protection. They were met  by a  set of aggressive Tamil protestors. The police  said that  they cannot offer protection and  told the  survey  team  to   go back without doing the survey.  So I undertook to see to their safety, said Santhabodhi  .We went to where the survey officers were staying and asked them to somehow do this. They did  the work and I dropped them off on the main road in  my    vehicle.  


On  September 21, 2022 at about 10am  Tamil political leaders with 20 others came to the foot of Kurundi hill and started their protests.   They were followed by about 100 other Tamils who came in vehicles and tractors, holding placards  and shouting  aggressive slogans  . They ordered the army team engaged in conservation work to leave. They left.

Some Tamil protestors climbed onto the stupa and spoke obscenely to the officer in charge of the archaeology work,  and demanded to know  on whose authority   he was doing his work.   They uttered death threats and asked him to leave immediately.  An onlooker who attempted to video this incident was scolded in obscene language . There was no one stop  them. Mullaitivu police were not to be seen..  They were drunk and if they had attacked us there was no one to come to our rescue, recalled Santhabodhi . 

 At the request of the army, Santhabodhi  and anther monk hid in the guardhouse. From there Santhabodhi rang Ven. Medagoda Abeyatissa  and  Ven. Medill Pagnaloka and they informed  Prime Minister, Sectary/ Defense,  and  the IGP. Santhabodhi also  informed Jagath Sumathipala,  Sarath Weerasekera and Channa  Jayasumana. Later the  police arrested   Raviharan and one other. The Tamil  protestors then demonstrated asking for their release.  They were released on  bail. 


There was another disturbance on July 14, 2023 Ama Wanniarachchi interivewed Ven Santhabodhi .  She wrote as follows: On 4 July, The Mullaitivu Magistrate visited Kurundi Temple to examine the site as there is an on-going court case. During this was happening a large team of Tamil ministers, politicians and their supporters and kurukkals arrived. Buddhist monks and devotees were also at the temple on this day.

This court case was filed in 2018 and it goes on as a ‘Breach of Peace’. However, now the focus was on how the conservation work at the site has been done, especially the archaeological work. But it was proved that all the conservation work was done strictly following archaeological conservation laws and policies by the Department of Archaeology (DoA). Therefore, the lawyers of the other party focused on the signboard that has been fixed on the site by the DoA. Therefore, I was told that I should go to the Police and give a statement about this Board.

While all this was happening, a group of monks visited the temple and worshiped the stupa by offering flowers. Then we were informed that as an examination is going on and that we should leave the place and therefore, we left. But, when we were going toward the stupa we met Police officers, but at that time we were not told not to go there. It all happened after we started to worship and offer flowers.

On the same day evening, a former Member of the Provincial Council, Raviharan, and his team arrived with the media and gave a statement and shared it on social media. When the Magistrate was about to leave, Raviharan requested from him for permission to worship the place; replying to him the Magistrate said that there is no restriction to worship so devotees can worship. Then Raviharan requested permission to conduct a Pongal festival on the 14 July at  Kurundi.

Later that week, we came to know that their intention was not innocent as conducting a Pongal festival but clearly political. We also came to know that they were planning to fix a Thrishul at the place, as they did fix a Siva Linga at Vaddamana Pabbata. Today, the ancient Vaddamana Pabbata Vihara is a kovil, completely destroyed and vandalised, despite the pleas of devotees, activists, media, and officials.”

 Considering all that has been and is happening in the North and East at ancient sites, I logged a complaint on 10 July, presenting all facts and our concerns. As the Chief Incumbent of the Kurundi Temple, it is my duty and responsibility to protect the place. The DoA (Department of Archaeology) also lodged a complaint about this incident and has requested to intervene in order to prevent any conflict or damage that will be caused to the site.

This is a site that has been gazetted as an archaeological reserve and a protected monument. Therefore, according to the law, without the permission of the Director General of the DoA, no one can perform any sort of activities that will harm the site and monuments at the Kurundi ancient site. No activity can be conducted that will harm the site and monuments nor can perform any activities that will hurt Buddhist devotees who venerate this ancient Buddhist monastery. Also, acts that will breach the peace and activities such as placing new objects that will distort and violate the original structure and purpose of this archaeological and Buddhist site should not happen.

We thought that considering our concerns and the points we presented, an order will be given to stop the pooja on 14 July. However, on 13 we came to know that permission was given to go on with the pooja on 14 inside the site.

On the morning of 14, we held a Buddha Wandanawa, and around 9.30 a.m., Raviharan and a team arrived at the temple with utensils, bricks, stones, and so on. They came near the ancient image house and were preparing to light a fire to cook. Then we asked to not light a fire near the image house as it will damage it. One senior Police officer called and said us to leave the temple and let them do the pooja and come back after they leave. I refused to leave as I know and have experience with such things; especially after what happened in Vaddamana Pabbata Vihara. Vaddamana Pabbata was vandalised while the Police were there. I have a responsibility and duty to protect this ancient temple, so I decided not to go.

We know how these extremists vandalise and destroy ancient temples in these areas. While they were about to light the fire, we requested not to do so and explained why. We said that this is a Buddhist temple and an ancient archaeological site, and no activity should be done that will damage its authenticity. Also, the group that arrived here, under the pretext of cooking Pongal rice were not villagers and devotees of the surrounding villagers; they were all henchmen of politicians and a priest from Jaffna who is also a political henchman. Although we discussed it, they ardently disagreed to come to a middle ground. They were adamant about cooking Pongal rice near the image house.

We wonder why such things happen only in Buddhist temples. Is it ethical to conduct religious festivals of another religion inside a religious place of some other religion? Do we go to Nallur Kovil and perform Buddhist pooja? Why these people do not respect the sentiments of Buddhists? Why chose Kurundi when there are hundreds of kovils to cook Pongal rice?

We told them to cook outside the premises and bring the cooked rice here since that is what we also do. We cook milk rice outside and bring the cooked rice to offer. They did not agree. Meanwhile, the Police asked us to leave the premises and we did. Afterward, they poured milk all over the place and cracked coconut inside the temple. The cooking of Pongal rice was stopped because the Buddhist monks and devotees protested against it. Thus, the destruction and vandalising is temporarily stopped concluded Santhabodhi .


A three day Poya festival was planned at Kurundi starting  on 18.8.2023. It started well, with 29 bhikkhus from all over the island and nearly 500 members of the public who arrived by 9 am and started to recite the Ratana sutra. Television news on the evening of 18.8.23 showed this

Two Tamil MPs, S Sridharan and  Gajendran Ponnambalam with others, including undergrads from University of  Jaffna, arrived  at the same time, saying the Magistrate had given permission for a pongal to be conducted at Kurundi. They wanted to have the pongal in front of the pilimage. They did the pongal. Television news showed   a fire lit for preparing the pongal rice.

The Hindus wanted to place a statue   on the stupa .Santhabodhi objected. Tamil shouted at him and police persuaded Santhabodhi to leave saying they will handle the situation.  Santhabodhi reluctantly went. https://youtu.be/XkInlXpKoRg  shows Santhabodhi telling the police, this is highly irregular and the police pleading with him to leave.  No issue has been created yet.

Tamils wanted to light a second fire. The Archaeology department official objected.  He said according to the law, they cannot light any fire, but we permitted you to light the first lipa, isn’t that enough.  Ponnambalam said we want to light the second one also there. I have got an order from the courts to do this. 

The Archaeology Department officer replied that he cannot allow that. There were regulations against it. If you try to light another fire I shall have to inform the security forces. The Tamil group replied  rudely that the Archaeology Department was also part of the Kurundi plot.  You cannot give us orders.  If we have broken your rules then go to courts..  The officer became angry and did not give in.

After the Tamil team left, the Buddhists went to the   Pilimage and worshipped.  After that anther  Tamil group led by a Hindu sadhu in orange robes came and chanted hymns.  Then there was an argument between the  Hindus and the Buddhists. By 2 pm both group had left Kurundi.  Television news showed the deseted stupa with   the army stationed  around it.

The news report on the event said as follows: On august 18.2023 a tense situation arose when a group led by Tamil National People’s Front leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam entered the Kurundi temple and conducted a Pongal Pooja.

A group, including MP Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, had gone to perform a Pongal Pooja at the Kurundi temple having got a court order to do so. There were objections, saying it was illegal to  do so. Resulting in a heated exchange of words between the two parties. .

 The situation was brought under control by the police. The Mullaitivu police arrived and diffused the situation. They also contacted officials of the Archaeological Department, who designated an appropriate area for the Pongal pooja. The participating individuals conducted the Pongal pooja and then had left . (end of news report..)

On august 21st, bhikkhus went  to Parliament to complain about the conduct of its  MPs at Kurundi. The spokesman told   the media that  Ponnambalam and his group had  violated Archaeology , Forest,  and Wildlife   regulations.. Gajan Ponnambalam  was trying to destroy Buddhism . This could turn into an explosive situation later.. He wanted  Gajan  Ponnambalam expelled from Parliament  before that happened. He requested the government to take action against   Gajan.         https://youtu.be/Q1c7sbysMPM  

Sarath Weerasekera said in Parliament that the group brought by Ponnambalam were not from the area, they were from Jaffna, Kilinochchi,   and Mannar. ‘.Do not treat the ‘ivaseema’ and ‘anukampava’ of the Buddhist as  ‘nivatakama’, he warned.. 

 MP Dharmalingam Siddharthan responded to  Weerasekera. He said that    Buddhism arose from Hinduism.  There were Tamil Buddhists in   Sri Lanka before the Sinhala Buddhists. There is enough evidence to prove this. While it is  necessary to protect ancient Buddhist monuments, in the  north, it is not possible to permit new temples to be erected there, because that  will lead to settlement of Sinhalese in  that area.  (Hansard reference is    vol 293 no 5 2022.6. 21. P 1055 but I have taken this from  Kurundi vihara vamsaya” and not  directly from Hansard.)

Udaya Gammanpila  went to Gajan Ponnambalam’s  home in Colombo accompanied by a group on 25.8.23  to  complain over his interference in the Kurundi matter. Udaya announced, that Gajan had disturbed a pinkama at Tissa vihara, and disrupted a  pirit pinkama at Kurundi .The  STF, air force  and police  were present to protect  the Ponnambalam residence. (Derana 6.55  news 26.8.23)  CONTINUED)

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