Message of Vesak: Misconduct of the powerful; wind power project in Mannar



Cassandra is very conscious she writes her Cry on Vesak day and her readers will read her when the aura of Vesak still surrounds much of this island. This aura is now a mixed one.

Change in cities

Cassandra nostalgically remembers the environmental ambience and the feeling that pervaded and prevailed in Kandy say fifty years ago. People paid homage to the Sacred Tooth in the Dalada Maligawa, not crowded then; with piety in heart and mind. Illuminations dotted the city and scattered locations: simple, dignified and traditional – the coloured bucket with a lit candle inside and the pol thel pahanas with their flickering light arranged in novel patterns. Ingenious persons proudly displayed attapattams. Often, notwithstanding the South West Monsoon prevailing, a brilliant moon shone down on a serene city with peaceful people with sanctity and the Buddha’s word in mind.

Cities are still pervaded with the aura of sanctity, as at dawn, white clad crowds wend their way to temples and meditation centres. Come evening, more so in Colombo, raucous life resounds; pandols compete with each other; and politics creeps in with political VIPs invited to declare them open. Danselas still abound with genuine charity giving meals or snacks. However, the aura is more of commercialism than sanctity. The simplicity that Buddha emphasised is overlaid and even obliterated by opulence. It is like the white paper atapattam that hung in its pure naturalness is now covered with glistening water proofing. Practical during this change of even rain patterns, but plainness as well as transparency is camouflaged, reflecting human nature now so changed from then.

Prevalent: anti Buddhistic traits

This change for the worse is seen most in the attitude and behaviour of those who are our representatives in the legislature. Many of them, mostly the Pohottu types, shout out the slogan ‘Sinhala Buddhist’ with its implied connotation of superiority and majoritarianism. They act against Sinhala culture, which is basically simple and genuine with honesty a top feature. They are un-Buddhistic, hardly observing even one of the Five Precepts. Many of them from top rungs to lowest have killed even humans and often do nothing to save the lives of sentient beings.

They grab what is not theirs and grow fat on ill-gotten gains. Sexually many are depraved, no two words about that, with, as most know, at least one girl put into trouble sent overseas or even killed to hide the fact. False pronouncing is of course a learned and skilled craft of theirs, and alcohol and drugs freely partaken of. Wasn’t an MP himself then, Ranjan Ramanayake, who in Parliament said many seated there were drug takers and dealers? But yesterday many would have been clad in pristine white and hosting bana in their homes or with due publicity ensured, visiting temples.

State Minister Prassana Ranaweera openly exhibited most of the despicable characteristics mentioned above with added hubris, exhibition of power and expecting kowtowing from all encountered. He slapped a poor porter. We know of the incident at Katunayake when his wife was leaving to visit their child, or one of their children studying overseas, it was said. It is like politicians using tax money to fly to Singapore for the slightest ailment when we have doctors here who hold their own with the best.

The ex-Minster of Health did this while importing unfit drugs to earn money that killed thousands of innocents. Cass refers to his going to Singapore at the first hint of ill-health and also us spending for his long stay in an Australian hospital after falling while negotiating a sly balcony walk. These new rich politicians send their kids overseas for even secondary education.

They all got away with much until now. Prassana R would have thought none would dare report his brutish behavior at the Katunayake airport on May 14. All Sri Lanka and overseas know he is crude minus any sensibility, and totally un-Buddhistic. But will he be punished? There’s the rub. He was not even pulled up and kept away from Parliament after throwing chilli powder at his rival MPs.

Urgently, and most necessarily these men as our representatives in Parliament must be changed. We need to send most of the present lot home. Their small houses were transformed into mansions. Sri Lanka cannot continue to be ruled by the scum of the earth. Most Sri Lankans are far above that depth.

Metta and Karuna

But all is not lost in this island nation, once a paradise but even now nurturing and possessing wonderful people: excellent in personality, very clever, educated, tolerant, and considering themselves Sri Lankan. The four major religions flourish alongside minor ones; the races coalesce well. These in spite of certain persons, mostly politicians and radical dangerous men in yellow robes, fermenting racial and religious conflict.

I refer here to one inspiring act that goes with the spirit of Vesak and the Buddha’s emphasis on nature and its protection and loving kindness to all beings.

A news item in the Sunday Island of May 19 gladdened the troubled heart. Titled: WNPS filed Supreme Court challenge against wind power project in Mannar Island. So apparently, all is not lost to Adani’s project to erect wind turbines all over that reserved area for birds and nature. Have most of the wind turbines still not been set up as planned? Environmentalists and zoologists and plain people like you and me cried out against so-called development, which was money making. Business before the good of the country in this case. The project was to go ahead, never mind harming forever birds, beasts, fauna, flora and beauty of this stretch of land and the seas around.

The dainty-walking, migrating flamingos were the main concern of the protesters against the wind power scheme in the area. Now, “In a significant move at protecting the unique ecosystem of Mannar Island, an environmental protection organization, the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS), has filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court. This legal action challenged the recent cabinet decision to award a wind power project in Mannar Island to Adani Green Energy Ltd. of India.”

The reason for the cry against Mannar Island being blistered over with gigantic wind harnessing turbines is because plenty of alternative sites are available almost all around Sri Lanka, so why in this strip of land in Mannar. Is the paramount reason for the insistence of this site proximity to India to send energy over there?

The season of Vesak is still with us, like the pandols continue to glitter, glimmer and shatter noise limits. So, Cassandra wishes everyone continued peace and hearkening unto, and taking to heart the message of the Buddha to do good and refrain from evil in thought, word and deed.