‘Tug of war’ for electing Kataragama Basnayaka Nilame

September 19, 2020

Excitement seems to be rampant subsequent to the date for electing the 12th Basnayaka Nilame to the Historic Ruhunu Maha Kataragama Devalaya, being fixed for September 22 by the Commissioner General of Buddhist Affairs.

There are 17 voters qualified to cast their votes for the election of the Kataragama Basnayaka Nilame. They are the Kataragama Kirivehera Rajamaha Viharaya, Sri Abhinavarama temple, Rajamaha Viharaya in Wedahitikanda, Sella-Kataragama Mahasen Rajamaha Viharaya, the acting Basnayaka Nilame of Kataragama Devale, Basnayaka Nilame of Bibila-Kotabowa Kuda Kataragama Devalaya and the 11 divisional secretaries of Monaragala District.

In the meantime, it was said that the offers as high as millions are being received by now. Several of the Basnayaka Nilames who had been elected to the Kataragama Devalaya had faced a lot of trials and tribulations in their lives but several others still receive the respect from those who served the Kataragama Devalaya even today with the blessings of Gods.

When the election comes, the divisional secretaries get together and select one secretary to negotiate with the candidates. Later, the divisional secretaries who give into the highest offer will vanish several days before the election.
At this election, it is important to propose the name of the Nilame candidate and second it. An election is held in the event two names or more are proposed. The other candidates who contest at the election withdraw their names before the election because they are unable to give the relevant money to the divisional secretaries.

After giving such a large amount of money as bribes to the voters, the Basnayaka Nilame who is elected to the Kataragama Devalaya will first act to redeem their debts. As a result, during the tenure of D.P.Kumarage, nearly Rs. 30 million had been obtained from the bank. There are instances that can be proved in which the lands belonging to the Devalaya had been given to outsiders through fraudulent means.

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