11/14/2023, 14.04
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No Diwali celebrations among Tamils displaced by floods

by Melani Manel Perera

Collapsed embankments force dozens of families to leave their homes at tea plantations. They urge the government to provide them with safe housing. During celebrations for the Hindu festival, Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe expresses hope that the “lamps of prosperity” will guide the country towards development for all.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – This year’s celebrations for the Hindu festival of Diwali in Sri Lanka was marked by mixed feelings of joy and sorrow.

While the government celebrated the "festival of lights" in a grandiose way, some Tamils in rural areas said that they would not celebrate Diwali at all, due to floods and landslides that have devastated Tamil regions.

"What a Diwali for us, who have been swept away from where we were,” some Tamil said. About “33 members of eight families of plantation workers were displaced yesterday due to the collapse of a protective stone wall in front of a row of plantation houses in the upper part of Mocha Tea Plantation, a village in Nuwara Eliya District,” a news reporter, Chandana Jayaweera, told AsiaNews

The displaced found temporary shelter at a pre-school building in the tea estate, including 15 school-age children.

Displaced plantation workers are calling on the authorities to provide homes for the displaced families in a safe place instead of temporary solutions. They complain that continuing heavy rains could cause another part of the embankment to collapse, putting their lives at risk.

In Rathnapura district, Tamil estate workers have been displaced for three weeks, Anthony Jesudasan, executive director of the Voice of the Plantation People Organization (VOPP), told AsiaNews.

Nine families with almost 40 people (seniors, adults, youth and children) are temporarily staying at the Praja Shakthi Foundation.

Still, even in this situation of grave hardship, devotees light Diwali lamps and participate in religious rites, supporting the shared aspiration to infuse light into every soul.

By contrast, the official celebration of the Hindu festival was held on Sunday in Colombo in the presence of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was warmly welcomed according to Hindu rites.

"As we celebrate Diwali, it is my fervent hope that the nation unites on this occasion and become a beacon, igniting the lamps of prosperity across the country and steering Sri Lanka towards being a developed country by 2048,” marking one hundred years of independence.

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