by Anura Guruge
I do not know this president on a personal basis. I actually can’t even remember his name. I knew two of the early presidents quite well: J.R. and Wijetunga. In my youth I had spent a fair amount of time at the later’s house — and my most vivid memories are stopping by there, on the way back from Kandy, after elections.
What I do know is that this president, who in my opinion, with his habitual red stole likes to look like a pope, is very pro-Catholic. He is good friends with Sri Lanka’s cardinal, the ‘Tanned Ratzinger‘. You can see that he met with the old pope.
So, I am kind of surprised that HE, who is no stranger to Christmas given that his wife is Catholic, permitted the Sri Lankan cricket team to play on Christmas Day. Possible that he didn’t know. From the little that I hear, he has a fair amount on his plate. To me this is very strange.
Growing up one of the most amazing things about life in Ceylon was our tolerance of other religions. My adopted family were Buddhists but I spent all my holidays and weekends with an Uncle, by marriage, who was a Burgher (Dutch descended, and hence white) and a Baptist. He didn’t have any children and he was a lawyer — actually the lawyer for the Ceylon Food Ministry. His wife, my adopted aunty, was the Assistant Principal at Royal College — Ceylon’s then largest and most prestigious boys school (which I didn’t attend). They were well off. They did a lavish, no expense spared Christmas lunch for the whole extended family. But, I stayed with them and got a ton of Christmas presents each Christmas. We celebrated all holidays. That Sri Lankans are acting like we, as a nation, don’t know anything about Christmas is insulting and demeaning.
Yes, I shouldn’t complain. I am not Sri Lankan. So, I probably don’t have the right. But, I was born there.
The President’s letter to the ‘Tanned Ratzinger‘ in 2012 for the cardinal’s birthday: