Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kuragala Lessons – Fighting with honour for a stake in a layered heritage

Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 26 May, 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date.

By Darshanie Ratnawalli

In Archaeology there is a novel concept called “Public Participatory Interactive multi cultural Museum and Site Presentation” applicable to sites with multiple heritages. This involves being inclusive of all available heritage components in presenting the identity of a site.

Kuragala presents the typical layered heritage pattern. Season 1- It is a pre-historic habitat of Homo sapiens balangodensis. Season 2- In 2/3rd century BC Lanka, adherents of a new religion make it a raging fashion to dedicate caves right and left to the cave dwelling Sangha (inscribing the donor names on the cave wall) and Kuragala does not escape. Season 3- Kuragala becomes an Islamic shrine and a retreat.

Nowadays, Kuragala is a very useful site. Trying to assess how much its presentation in Media measures up to the multiple stakeholders concept is a sure way to identify the less obvious faces of intolerance and chauvinism. (As we already know the obvious face, the BBS, the flavor of the season in villainy).

I am going to highlight two recent journalistic presentations that attempted through misinformation (which even a routine veracity check could have shown up), to obliterate one heritage component of Kuragala and up the stakes of another. These presentations were by Latheef Farook and Dharisha Bastians.

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