Secular Sri Lanka - Blog

"A secular constitution that everyone in Sri Lanka can subscribe to, and feel a sense of belonging in; regardless of their ethnic origin or religious convictions or lack of thereof; is a big step towards the correct direction."

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010


For us in Thaprobane, if we get exposed to something for a century or so, we tend to think it is a part of our culture and tradition. For instance, Dutch were here and they made Kokis, we still make Kokis for new year and think it's one of our traditional delicacies; then, the British left us in 1948; but today, we refuse to allow a lady to enter temple of tooth in Kandy if she’s wearing a sleeveless garment, because we believe so much that it is an indecency according to our cultural values, but like in the case of Kokis, we fail to recognize that measuring modesty based on the amount of exposed skin came from Victorian value system of the British; and also like in the case of Kokis, nothing even comparable in that sort, existed in our value system before the British.

Parliamentary democracy understandably is still not assimilated in to our culture to the extent that Victorian morality (or Kokis for that matter) is assimilated, maybe that’s why we still seems be struggling to come to the terms of this concept of good governance under democracy.


Above and beyond all of other factors, the telltale sign of a ‘religion’ is the claims of miracles. Nature of these Miracles are surprisingly common across all monotheistic, polytheistic, and even the non-theistic religions such as Buddhism. The large number of Buddhists who saw “Budu Res” on the famous “Day of Budu Res” is a testimony of gullibility created by religious faith. Also in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, a lot of religious idols from various faiths claimed to have been miraculously saved, Buddha statues topping the list. (Nobody of course talked about non-religious structures like lighthouses that were unscathed due to their peculiar structural qualities)

Morality and Religiousness

We are in a culture where there are no clear distinctions between religious activities and non-religious activities. Buddhism being primary religious tradition, we don’t have clear definition for what it means to be an ‘atheist’ as well. Buddhism not having a central deity in its core, and hence theoretically all Buddhist are atheists to begin with. The widely accepted virtue of good citizenship is the religiousness. Morality and Religiousness are taken as synonyms. We do not have many role models who are leading a secular lifestyle yet being well respected in the society. The famous personality Arthur C. Clarke who lived and died in the island is known for many good things within Sri Lanka, but not for his atheism. Many Sri Lankans might have thought he is Christian or something like that since he is white skinned person that came from Britain.