Where it is forbidden to light candles in Srilanka

 Jaffna is in the north of Sri Lanka. The undeclared capital of the Tamils. Jaffna can be compared with South Manitou Island, Bloc Island or Mercer Island in size. It is a green town by the sea. 

But if anyone moves around Jaffna, his inquisitive eyes and heart will easily find another deep sea of ​​grief and sorrow on the island.

Before the civil war, Jaffna was the second most populous city in the country. Now it is 12th in population. Only this information shows how much the civil war has emptied Jaffna. The 26-year ethnic war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009. 

But the depth of mourning in Jaffna has not diminished in the last 11 years. When November comes, it is understood. The last days of this month Jaffna suffers from depression and deafness. The saddest of these is November 27.

Tamils ​​call the day 'Mabirar Nal'. In Tamil, "Mabir" means great hero. ‘Nal’ is the day. We can figure out the meaning as 'The day of great hero'. The celebration of "the day of great hero" started a few days before 27th November. 

It continues to one or two days after 27th November also. However, the 27th is the main day of the mourning festival. The previous day, November 26, was the birthday of Prabhakaran, the late chief of the The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Prohibition in memory of lost fighters

Tamils ​​are now one of the largest expatriates in the world. There are about nine hundred thousand Tamils ​​from Sri Lanka in different countries of the world. Many of them migrated due to the war situation. 

Tamils ​​are a politically conscious people even after leaving the country. As a result, 'the day of great hero' is celebrated all over the world. But its appeal in Jaffna is very intense.

In the days of the Civil War, the LTTE (Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam) organized on 27 November to express its grief and heroism on a huge scale. Now they are defeated. The central leadership, including Prabhakaran, is dead. 

The Sinhalese brothers Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapaksa have returned to power in the opposite direction. Under their political and administrative leadership, the government won the civil war a decade ago by defeating the Tamil Tigers.

 As a result, it is not uncommon for the couple's younger brother, the president, and his elder brother, the prime minister, to intervene to prevent the Tamils ​​from celebrating the mourning day. This ban was administrative for so many days. But this time the court also confirmed the ban.

As November approaches, magistrates' courts in the northern districts, including Mannar, Bhabunia and Kilinochchi, have ordered the closure of "the day of great heroes". The court said the barrier was due to COVID-19. However, the court's support has been encouraging for the Rajapaksas to be tougher on Tamils.

Jaffna has changed radically

Since the defeat of the LTTE in the Civil War, the day has been celebrated mainly by lighting candles. Now the government does not want to do anything. There will also be an obstacle to light candles in Jaffna on November 27 in public.

In the past, the big event of November was held at Jaffna University in memory of the late Tigers. The contribution of Jaffna University to the emergence and development of Tamil nationalism is bigger or even greater. This time Jaffna University has been closed on 26 and 27 November.

In the days when the LTTE was active, such a ban could not be imagined in Jaffna. At that time, policy makers in Colombo were anxiously waiting to hear what Prabhakaran had to say on the main occasion of " the day of great heroes". Prabhakaran used to give such speeches in front of the guerrillas in or around Jaffna at 6 pm on November 27, commemorating the moment of death of his comrade Shankar. 

Those bloody days still thrill Sri Lanka. But in a decade, Jaffna has changed radically. Almost no one wants to talk about politics today. And not about LTTE at all. Everyone's attention is on repairing their respective economies devastated by the civil war. But the day came back in November to remind their lost relatives.

November 27: Looking back

In 1989, Tamils ​​celebrated the first 'Mabirar Nal'. LTTE Lieutenant Shankar, the first martyr of the organization, died on November 27, 1982, seven years before that. Although the day was chosen in his memory, the LTTE later introduced the custom of commemorating all the dead fighters together on that day. Prabhakaran's birthday party is also associated with this. Thus the celebration of "Mabirar Nal" began in about seven days.

In the days of power, the LTTE had marked a large area for burying the bodies of their 'heroes' at various places in Jaffna. Tamils ​​call these places ‘Thuilam Ilam’ or "the last resting place". Yet people come to these places in the last week of November. However, this time the police have closed all the roads to the old places where " the day of great heroes" is celebrated. The check post has been set up from November 21.

However, the appeal of November 26 and 27 is so intense to the Tamils that even if the security forces shut down the whole of Jaffna, most of the houses would be closed and the dead fighters would be remembered. Remembering Prabhakaran cannot be left out. Prabhakaran has become the main character of Tamil nationalism with a heated debate. There are many myths and legends about him. 

For many Tamils ​​even today it is hard to believe that he is no more. He is a terrorist to a large part of the Sinhalese people. His organization has long been considered a terrorist organization in many countries around the world, including Sri Lanka. However, it cannot be said that the political aspirations of the Tamils ​​have disappeared. The Sinhalese could not solve it.

Tamils ​​have symbolized the day by the flower "flame lily". It blooms especially in November in Jaffna. It is poisonous, but its red-yellow mixed colored intensify its beauty! The great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore (The most widely held view is that Sri Lankan composer Ananda Samarakoon wrote the music and lyrics of their national anthem to be inspired/influenced by this nobel laureate ) used to call this flower "Agnishikha" or "flame of fire". The question arises, did the poet see the future?

About 100,000 civilians have died in Sri Lanka's 26-year war. About 50,000 fighters from both sides have died. In the meantime, the LTTE has lost about 27,000 fighters. In the last month of the war alone, 9,000 people died in the north of the country. Among the dead was Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The current government of Sri Lanka wants to move forward from these historic wounds. But it is in the guise of a winner. Damage to the Tamils, compensation and political reforms in the North and East are not in the priority of the Rajapaksa brothers. So the ethnic distance remains silent.

The recent polls have seen an unquestionable victory for Sinhala nationalism. Tamils ​​are now cornered militarily as well as politically. President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda are seizing this opportunity.

 The country has already been taken from the old parliamentary rule to the presidential system. The range of family support for the king has increased as the religious demands of the monks have been met. The state administration is completely under the control of this family.

In addition to the president, there are four members of the same family in the cabinet. They have eight important ministries in their hands. Current and former Sinhalese army officers are allies of the government. They have been appointed to important positions in the bureaucracy. In this way, a wartime atmosphere has been maintained in war-torn Sri Lanka. 

With the theological imprint of Buddhist nationalism. In the midst of this, as the situation of Tamils ​​in the north is understood from the ban on 'Mabirer Nal', so are the Muslims in the east under great pressure. 

Repression against Muslims has escalated since the mysterious attack on the church by some Muslims last year. They were socially accused of spreading the epidemic during the Corona period. Some Muslims who died in the plague were also prevented from being buried.

Tamils ​​and Muslims together make up 22 percent of the country's population. In the past, there was more enmity between them than mutual friendship. Now in the face of the intensity of Sinhalese nationalism, they find themselves on the same deck of deprivation.

This situation in Sri Lanka is a bad news for the whole of South Asia. The right to mourn or the inability to be buried in religious rites signals a new wave of racism in the region.

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