A bid by a group of Hindu fundamentalists to enter the administrative board of a Sivan kovil, located atop a rock and venerated by Vanni-based Hindus for more than two centuries, has been successfully pushed back by local devotees.

On 12 April, a discussion had been held at the Olumadu Community Hall with the participation of representatives of the present administrative board as well as devotees in the area in order to appoint a temple administrative board for the 2024-2025 period. Known as Adi Lingeswarar, the kovil is located atop the Vedukkunari mountain in Nedunkerni in the Vavuniya district.

The meeting, presided over by Adi Lingeswara kovil’s administrative board secretary Thurairasa Tamilchelvam, had been held under the patronage of Nainamadu Murugan Kovil’s chief priest Jeyasuda Kurukkal and Velan Swami of the Jaffna Sivaguru Adheenam.

Regional correspondents said that a group of five, including Maravanpulavu Kanapathipillai Sachithanandan, leader of Sri Lanka’s Shiva Senai which has the backing of India’s right-wing Shiv Sena extremists, had entered the hall uninvited and demanded that a post in the kovil’s administrative board be given to his organization.

Devotees present at the meeting had objected to the Shiv Sena group that did not at least issue a press release in support of the devotees’ year-long struggle for the protection and ownership of the kovil. The devotees had demanded the group vacate the premises within 10 minutes, and warned that they would leave the premises if the group did not do so.

However, despite the ultimatum, Shiv Sena leaders had adamantly remained in the hall. Consequently, the devotees had exited the Olumadu Community Hall, followed by the kovil’s administrative board.

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According to regional reporters, a decision has been reached to extend the present administrative board’s tenure by a year. The five Sri Lankan Siva Senai members also left the premises an hour after the devotees and the kovil’s administrative board vacated the venue.

A group that vandalised the Sivan kovil in March of 2023 had removed the Adi Lingeswarar statue placed atop the mountain, and had thrown it into a scrubland.

At the time, regional correspondents further reported that in addition to the said statue, Gana, Amman and Bahirawa statues, which had also been placed at the same place, had disappeared.

On the night of 8 March 2024, the Police had apprehended eight Hindu devotees and equipment including those used for religious rites for holding a special puja ceremony at night disregarding court orders. They were apprehended during Maha Sivarathiri rituals at the Adi Lingeswarar kovil.

Since the Police had no evidence to prove the charges, the Vavuniya District Court on 19 March ordered to dismiss the case and release the suspects and hand back items including ritual offerings.

Sinhala-Buddhists believe that the Vedukkunari Adi Lingeswarar kovil was previously known as Waddamana Pabbatha Viharaya, a Buddhist shrine.

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