Society for the Anthropology of Religion
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Despite a sometimes violent, post-colonial history of inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflict Sri Lanka continues to have ritual sites such as, most famously, Sri Pada and Kateragama, where people of various religious and ethnic identities share sacred spaces. At such places Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians engage in simultaneous but distinct devotions. Moreover, though some sites (including Sri Pada and Kateragama) have been the focus of efforts, primarily though not exclusively by the state, to impose narrative and identity homogenization, other sites, invigorated by post war circumstances, such as Our Lady of Madhu Shrine in Mannar, attract ever larger, ethnically and religiously mixed, crowds. In this paper, based on research conducted in Colombo, Kandy, Mannar, Jaffna and Batticaloa in 2018, the notions of ‘identity boundaries’ and ‘toleration’ will be examined in light of the complex dance of identity recognition, reaction, and strategic non-recognition practiced by devotees at Sri Lanka’s multi-religious sites.