South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Workers, Worshippers and the Servant of the Temple: Up-Country Tamil Religiosity at Sri Pada/Shivanoli Padam

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Silveroak II, Ground Floor

The presence of Up-country Tamil Hindu as ‘worshippers’ to the sacred footprint (Sri Pada) temple is quite recent when compared to other ethno-religious groups in the country. The majority of pilgrims coming to Sri Pāda are Sinhala Buddhists, and the second largest group are Hindu Tamils from the tea estates in the area around the temple. But unlike in the past, Hindu, Muslim, and Catholic groups do not play any significant ritual roles at the temple. 


As far as Up-country Tamil religiosity is concerned, the central religious festival that they perform annually is surrounded by a female goddess, Mariyamman. By celebrating Mariyamman Up-country Tamils highlight their distinct identification with the island and their cultural differences with not only other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka but diasporic Tamil Hindu communities as well (see: Bass 2012).


However, Up-country Tamil religiosity is not confined to their own religious world and it can be extended to major multi-religious sacred sites like Kataragama, Munneswaram and Sri Pada. In this paper, I will elaborate how they have connected to the Buddhist dominated Sri Pada as worshippers and the Servant of Sri Pada temple while being estate workers. It will also explain the politics of carving out a ritual space by performing a special ritual at the Sri Pada temple and how such a ritual of Up-country Tamils highlight their cultural differences with numerous others, including Sinhalas, and other Tamil Hindu communities. 

Send Email for Premakumara de Silva


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3 - Workers, Worshippers and the Servant of the Temple: Up-Country Tamil Religiosity at Sri Pada/Shivanoli Padam



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Send Email for Workers, Worshippers and the Servant of the Temple: Up-Country Tamil Religiosity at Sri Pada/Shivanoli Padam