On this Christmas day, the Tamil Catholics from Puttalam to Galle who were Sinhalized by the State sponsored Sinhalization should spend a few minutes to be true to their Tamil roots, touch their hearts, remember their Tamil forefathers, and hope to be forgiven for aiding, abetting and allowing themselves to be used as cannon fodders in the war against their Tamil brethren to defend the Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism.
TAMIL FROM PUTTALAM TO GALLE:
It is interesting to note that Tamil was taught from Puttalam to Galle. The foregoing is taken from page 131, vol: iii of CCD. ` Some country schoolmasters and the `tomboy register of births & deaths) holders reported that the following Church members had gone over to the Roman Catholic church and had their marriages solemnized by Roman Catholic priest, ie., Joseph Pieris `PATTANGATTYN` namely Joan Fernando, Simon Fernando,
Lourenz Fernando, Anthony Pieris, Julian Fernando, Johanna Fernando, Manuel Zoysa (all of Negombo), Francisco Pieris, and Don Diego (both of Hunupitiya), Sattabigey Saloman Fernando(former assistant master of Maggona), and Angela Fernando`.
The above persons are all KARAVA TAMILS who hailed from the fishery-coast of KAYALPATTINAM of TAMIL NADU and migrated from time to time by the ingenuity of the Portuguese to propagate Tamils of Catholic persuasion in the western coastal regions of Ceylon.
The Dutch by a special order dated 9th April 1774 of Colombo, made the Catholic priests by a deed of allegiance to the Dutch Company, before the Commander or the Chief of their respective districts or before the `dessave` in Colombo and this declaration was preserved in at the Colombo secretariat.(CCD, pp 302,303 vol: III).
Thirty nine Catholic priests of Jaffna and Kalpitiya down the coast to Galle made the declaration in Tamil. On 5th October 1767, on a complaint lodged by Joan de Silva, the Tamil Roman Catholic schoolmaster at Colombo said that he was obstructed in his teaching duties by those of the Reformed religion.(CCD, p 328,vol:III).
By a `Plakkaat, the Dutch published in the 1778 in Tamil, conditions under which persons could marry whether they belonged to the Catholic church or the Reformed Church and attaching certain penalties for failure to abide by the order. This was a general restriction for marriages and birth of persons in so far as the issue of a certificate was concerned at baptism, and solemnization of weddings as stipulated in the order.
CUNNING SINHALIZATION OF TAMIL CATHOLICS OF CHILAW- `TAMIL SPEAKING SINHALESE:
It is a historical fact that Tamil Catholics have been comparatively reluctant to emphasise their `Tamilness` in earlier years. On the contrary some politicised Sinhala clergymen have not been hesitant to push the Snhala line. The most famous or notorious case being that of Bishop Edmund Peiris . When the Chilaw Diocese was carved out of the Northern diocese a substantial concentration of Catholics along the Western seaboard were Tamil Bharathas or `Parathavar`.
Peiris came out with the nomenclature `Tamil Speaking Sinhalese` in relation to the Bharatha community and projected the line that their medium of instruction should be Sinhala. So 48 Tamil medium schools and Tamil streams in schools became Sinhala overnight. It was cultural genocide. The grandchildren began speaking Sinhala while the grandparents spoke Tamil. The parents were caught in between. Former Arch Bishop Nicholas Marcus Fernando`s mother from Mundal was LITERATE IN TAMIL ONLY. The son used to correspond in Tamil with the mother.
SINHALIZATION OF COASTAL TAMIL TOWNS FROM NEGOMBO - (THEY ARE THE ARDENT DEFENDERS OF SINHALA BUDDHIST CHAUVINISM NOW. ):
The transformation of Bharatha identity from Sinhala to Tamil through education is a phenomenal example of a majority assimilating a minority. Mercifully the Bharathas of Vankalai and Pesalai coming under the Northern diocese were free of this `Sinhalaisation` and REMAIN FIERCELY PROUD TAMILS. The tragic aspect of this identity conversion was the silent acceptance of this perversion of justice by Tamil Catholics in the name of religion.
Catholics of a later era blame former Jaffna Bishop Emilianuspillai for this lapse. During colonial times the Catholic church in Sri Lanka comprised only two Dioceses - The Northern and Southern. The Northern diocese consisted of the Northern and Eastern Provinces along with areas extending downwards to Negombo , Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Though Tamils are only one - sixth of the Sinhala population the Sinhala - Tamil ratio in the Catholic church was six to five.
ACCEPTING SINHALA IDENTITY IS THE PERVERSION OF JUSTICE BY TAMIL CATHOLICS IN THE NAME OF RELIGION:
If the Tamil Catholics were vigilant they could have sought and obtained a separate Arch Diocese for the North - East. This is both administratively convenient and culturally homogeneous. There is nothing wrong in this arrangement. In India for instance the state of Tamil Nadu though uniformly Tamil speaking has two Arch dioceses headquartered in Madurai and Chennai. Just as the political leadership of the Tamils at dawn of Independence from Britain failed to articulate and demand a federal set up the Tamil Catholic hierarchy too failed to get a separate Archdiocese.
Years later the history conscious Jaffna Bishop Rt. Rev Deogupillai felt the necessity for a demarcation. He wrote to Vatican in 1976 seeking a separate Arch Diocese. There was immense merit in this request. Yet the Sinhala Catholics came down on him like a ton of bricks. Even a progressive like Bishop Leo Nanayakkara condemned Deogupillai for raising the demand. This was linked to the 1976 Vaddukkoddai resolution for Tamil Eelam and depicted as a separatist threat. Deogupillai backed down against his better judgement.
SEPARATE NORTH-EASTERN ARCH DIOCESE:
The question of a separate North - Eastern Arch diocese loomed large again in the early eighties. The arrest of Tamil Catholic priests under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act brought out sharply the ethnic divide in the Catholic Church. Sinhala and Tamil Catholics perceived the same phenomena through different prisms. The Papal nuncio in Colombo Nicolo Rotunno was broadly sympathetic. The Vatican was concerned about the arrested priests plight. The Popes representative also took up the issue with Jayewardene. There was much speculation that a separate North - Eastern Archdiocese was in the offing. Colombo acted hastily and firmly. The papal nuncio was unceremoniously expelled.
Thereafter Vatican did not pursue the `separate` Arch diocese proposal. Pope John Paul Two preferred and backed Catholic unity. The 1983 violence could have seen the emergence of a North - Eastern arch diocese but for one factor. Jayewardene cleverly blamed it on Communists, Trotkyites, Marxists and Maoists. This was anathema to Pope John Paul whose greatest accomplishment is precipitating the dismantling of the Soviet Communist `Empire`.
Pope John Paul two was fully conversant with the SriLankan Tamil predicament. He was briefed on this regularly by Cardinal Loudesamy of Bangalore later stationed in the Vatican. Archbishop Aarolliyasamy of Madurai who was once manhandled at Madhu by Sinhala Catholics for preaching in Tamil also had the Popes ear on this. Though sympathetic the Pope wanted the Catholic church to remain united. At one stage when Sinhala and Tamil Bishops were dangerously drifting apart Pope John Paul summoned all ten Bishops for a special meeting to Vatican and persuaded them to forge unity in diversity.
One of the things the Pope mentioned then was remarkably prophetic. He pointed out that once the Catholic church was divided on ethnic lines fresh tensions will ensue between Catholics and the Buddhist and Hindu majorities respectively. He warned of rising anti - Christian feelings on both sides of the ethnic divide and wanted the Church to remain united and strong to meet this challenge. Pope John Paul has passed away ,Those prophetic words of his are now coming true.