A Multi-Ethnic Mosque (Pics)

The Puttalam Grand Mosque was conceptualized by Muslims, engineered by a Burgher, designed by a Sinhalese and built by Tamils. Its founders were pretty keen to go out of their way to bring in some symbolic multi-ethnicity in what is usually considered to be a Muslim only place.

The mosque was built in 1934 and the trustee board still continues efforts to integrate with other religious communities in the region by inviting them for meetings and functions. It was built on top of an ancient mosque that apparently stood since the seventeenth century and was visited by a Sinhala king (maybe one of the Seethavaka’s)

There’s this really cool clock in the tower. It occupies half the room and requires a dedicated person to operate it. The gongs are massively loud and peal out the hours. The views are pretty spectacular also. Like a lot of picturesque spots in this area, the mosque looks over the lagoon.

There have been problems in Puttalam lately, mostly grease yaka related. The mosque authorities are quick to distance themselves from troublemakers, but itis clear that they might not have the whole of the Muslim community here under their peaceful influence. There is some evidence of simmering discontent.

They’re proud of the fact that the 1915 Muslim-Sinhala riots didn’t reach Puttalam. The people of Puttalam joined up sans religious barriers and collectively put a stop to things then. The story wasn’t that sweet in 1976 though. An altercation that happened because of rice rations prevalent during Sirimavo’s time saw bloody racial violence permeating the city, killing many.

Needless to say, everyone here is keen to avoid something like that happening again. But most violent events are created by one insane person or a few and then spread through the laity like a disease, riding on the backs of rumor, stupidity and misplaced loyalties.

If the community is not strong and interfaith relationships aren’t sturdy, the fragile situation in Puttlam might erupt. Last week, in response to the death of a policeman, a group of Sinhala protestors were due to stage a harthaal. This would have spelled disaster since the Muslims in the area were the obvious targets, them being wired up already. But saner heads prevailed and it looks like the worst is over Alhamdulillah.

If you ever go to Puttlam, try and get a tour of the mosque. More pictures here.

Puttlam 24 Aug 2011
  1. kandula said:

    Multi ethnic or whatever it’s the hot bed for Muslim Fundamentalism. It is the very place that engineered the brutal hacking to death of the Sinhala Police officer, Nawarathna Bandara a few days back. The policeman whose wife was 09 months pregnant appealed and bent on his knees to his attackers to give his life mentioning the very reason, his child’s future. The Muslim fundamentalists had no mercy.

    Is one of the responsibly of the religious places to be hot bed for killing people belonging to other faiths? What sort of Multi-ethnicity you talk about? Only in construction? Later turning out to be killing machine for people belonging to other faiths?

    • Whacko said:

      The murder of the policeman was extremely unfortunate and whoever who did must be brought to justice. I think its pretty apparent that it wasn’t an organized assault and so you calling it a concerted effort by ‘fundamentalists’ is inaccurate. But i have also heard these rumors that there is more than simmering discontent in some quarters of Puttlam. No one wants violence to come back to SL, so these elements must be dealt with carefully. See if they have any legitimate concerns that must be addressed

      • Beeeez said:

        Stop trying to justify the lynching of a Sinhalese police officer by a rabid Muslim mob. it’s funny how you nothing to say on your blog about this despite making a trip to Puttalam.

      • Whacko said:

        You’re demarcating the racial lines quite vividly there, There is a problem in this, conflicts that happen for various other reasons can be construed ina racist way in retrospect. So fix your outlook

      • Beeeez said:

        Maybe you should practice what you preach since you seem to be trying to portray the “grease devils” as an attack on/conspiracy against the Muslim community as a whole.

      • Whacko said:

        Hey i’m just looking at the evidence, that’s all. I’m not pointing at racial discrimination, maybe there was some other reason as to why these attacks were centered in areas with majority minority populations. I’m also questioning the utter impotency of the police and armed forces in tackling the crisis.

    • I think that was a case of mob violence, driven by hysteria, but a terrible thing to happen.

      I don’t know much about the details of the case but I think they just attacked him because they thought the police were shielding the Grease Yaka;s. Don’t know if race played a part.

      • Whacko said:

        Yeah, i’m pretty sure race didn’t. But these events can easily be construed like that, in retrospect.

  2. Tulie said:

    Truly lovely and an inspiration! Thank you Halik 🙂

    • Whacko said:

      You’re welcome, and thank you

  3. Thats a nice building. My favourite is the one in Beruwala that looks a bit like a church.

    Good post.

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