Power and Religiosity in a Post-Colonial Setting: Sinhala by R. L. Stirrat

By R. L. Stirrat

This examine of non secular switch and cultural fragmentation in modern Sri Lanka specializes in a sequence of recent Catholic shrines that allure enormous quantities of pilgrims. Their repute is predicated, between different issues, on their efficacy as facilities for demonic exorcism, assuaging affliction and assisting humans to discover jobs. the writer seems on the upward push of those shrines when it comes to the ancient event of the Catholic neighborhood in Sri Lanka, instead of by way of narrowly outlined non secular standards. primary to this broader nonreligious context is the position of energy and particularly the influence of put up colonialism at the small Roman Catholic inhabitants.

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Sample text

Throughout the colonial period the missionaries strove to encourage attendance at the mass and various forms of spiritual devotion, particularly the Christocentric cults such as those of the Sacred Heart, the Five Wounds of Christ, the Holy Face and the Blessed Sacrament. They also encouraged a view of suffering as an imitation of Christ: as a path to salvation. Precisely how the missionaries promulgated these cults remains unclear. Sermons and teaching in schools were undoubtedly important, whilst sodalities and other societies were created in the parishes.

2 People still remembered that their ancestors had been converted by the Portuguese, 'With a sword in one hand and the Bible in the other', but much more salient in their representations of the past were memories of the Dutch who had controlled the coastal areas from the mid-seventeenth to the late eighteenth centuries. These times were remembered as a 'time of trials', a 'period of persecution' of Catholics by the Protestant Dutch (Boudens 1957). In Negombo, a few miles from Pallansena there had even been a minor Catholic revolt against the Dutch (Boudens 1955).

Thus the relationship between Christ and his Church could be figured in terms of parent and child and also in terms of husband and wife (Kselman 1983: 97-102). Similarly the priest could be presented as both father and husband to his congregation. 25 Thus one major theme in missionary activity right up to the middle of the twentieth century was a stress on the family. 26 Life cycle rituals, especially marriage, were of major importance. Those who lived in sin were subject to excommunication, and when they repented were subject to fines and penances.

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