Friday, August 21, 2009

Religion in Sri Lanka

I don't think i really wrote about religion yet, but i think i finally got it.

Last night, i met someone who is Bahai. Yes, that religion that many have heard of because of the gorgeous Bahai Gardens in Haifa, Israel, but most don't know about. It was very interesting because the Gentleman had been to Israel a few times to visit the gardens and the Temple.

He said that Bahais believe that their previous religion was good, but that they also believe in Bahai. So, he was a Hindu, so he still believes in the Hindu Gods, but also in the Bahai God. And he also said that his children, at the age of 15 get to choose if they would like to be Bahai.
In a country that is mostly Budhist or Hindu with a small percentage of Muslims and Christians, it was fascinating to hear about a different faith. Especially since there is a great fear amongst some religious people about forced conversion. A practice that was common during the Portugeuse rule, but also somewhat practical today.
These are God fearing people. We stopped at a Buddhist Shrine along one of the roads so our driver could make a donation to the Temple. Because, that is the specific Temple to protect people on journeys.

Now, i know that we have prayers for everything in Judaism, but i just find it interesting how often you see Buddhist Shrines. someone actually made a comment to us, that the government is placing shrines in places that there are no Buddhist, almost to create a point of control.

For now, there is no religious conflict in Sri Lanka. There are extremists on all sides, but even within the Muslim community, they have contained intrareligious violence. Most conflicts within the Islamic neighborhoods are local issues that just happen to be between Muslims.
There is definitely freedom of religion here. And for the first time in my life, i heard someone speak about "The Worlds Largest Religions" and they didn't include Judaism. I think that's because there are literally like 5 of us here. Well, i'm sure that there are more than that because of all the iNGO's, but it is really different.
I am truly the minority of the minority of the minority.

So, that's a little on religion in Sri Lanka. After 2500 years, they're still going strong and making a positive impact.

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