This book presents a collection of original research about every day, innovative, interactive, and multiple religiosities among Sri Lankan Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and devotees of New Religious Movements in post-war Sri Lanka.
The contributors examine the unique and innovative religiosity that can be observed in Sri Lanka, which reveals a complex reality of mingled, and even simultaneous, cooperation and conflict. The book shows that innovative religious practices and institutions have achieved a new prominence in public life since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009. Using the analytic framework of ‘innovative religiosity’ to allow researchers to look at this question between and across Sri Lanka’s plural religious landscape in order to escape both the epistemological and ethnographic isolation of studies that limit themselves to one form of religious practice, the chapters also investigate the extent to which inter-religious tolerance is still possible in the wake of Sri Lanka’s religion-involving civil war, and the continuing influence of populist Buddhist nationalism, globalization and geopolitics on Sri Lanka’s post-war governance. The book offers a novel approach to the study of post-conflict societies and furthers the understanding of the status of tolerance between religious practitioners in contexts where both ethnic conflict and multi-religious sites are prominent.
This book is an important resource for researchers studying Anthropology, Asian Religion, Religion in Context and South Asian Studies.
Part 1: Three Introductions
Introductory Essay I. Negotiating with innovative multi-religious spaces, new religious pluralism, and geo-religious powers in post-war Sri Lanka.
Introductory Essay II. Spaces of protection, healing and liberation.
Introductory Essay III. Innovation and multi-religiosity at Sri Lankan interfaces.
Mark P. Whitaker
Part Two: Negotiating with Indigenous Spirits and at Buddhist-Hindu Interfaces
1. Of Meditation, Militarization, and Grease Yakas: Gendering supernatural and transnational dynamics in post-war public relations
2. The Ghost and the Goat – Religious Innovation in the Yaktovil Healing Tradition and Post-War Othering
3. Divine Eyes on the Sorrows of Lanka: Post-War Devotion to Pattini-Kannaki
Malathi de Alwis
4. Kuweni & Vijaya Retold: Sri Lanka’s Postwar Iconography as an Affirmation of Inter-Community Mixing
Part Three: Pilgrimage and multi-religious sites
5. Kataragama Pāda Yātra: Pilgrimaging with ethnic “others” in a backdrop of ethnoreligious nationally reconstructed cultural difference as denied resemblances
6. Religious Innovation in the Pilgrimage Industry: Hindu Bodhisattva Worship and Tamil Buddhistness.
Part Four: Sri Lanka’s New and Old Inter-Religious Movements
7. Searching for cakti: New gods, Sites and Choices in Postwar Tamil Sri Lanka
Mark P. Whitaker and Pathmanesan Sanmugeswaran
8. Emerging Innovative Religiosity and What They Signify
9. Beyond Syncretism: Buddhist-Islamic Interface in the Galebandara Cult
Kalinga Tudor Silva
10. Militancy in Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism
Part Five: Upcountry Religiosity
11. Temples and Deities on Plantations
12. Conversions, Fixing Faith, and Material Investments on Sri Lanka’s Tea Plantations
Part Six. Islamic and Christian arrangements
13. Sufis in Sri Lanka: A Fieldwork Story
14. Beards, cloth bags and sandals: reflections on the Christian Left in Sri Lanka
15. Claiming the Mannar Martyrs: Catholicism and Caste in Northern Sri Lanka
16. Hyper-religiosity, Ethnoreligious Nationalism, Neoliberalism, and Ethnic Violence in Sri Lanka: Pathways for Innovative Religious Responses to Peace with Justice
"This volume offers an in-depth and provocative glimpse of the complexity of Sri Lanka's multi-religious heritage and its impacts. Chapters by established and emerging experts in the field...describe the island's deeply pluralistic religious traditions. They also raise questions about the overlapping influences of religious cultures, ethnicity and place and their responsiveness (or not) to external influences."
-Nishkala Suntharalingam, Asian Affairs, 2023/05/04