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National Vision for Sri Lanka

statement by Kataragama-based journalist and educator Nelson Piyaratne

Nelson Piyaratne
Nelson Piyaratne

"Kataragama is only the place in Sri Lanka--perhaps in the world--where all the people worship one God together peacefully. I believe that peace in Sri Lanka should begin here in Kataragama. This year (2003) half a million pilgrims visited Kataragama during the festival alone. At perahera time one sees all different people moving together in a congenial atmosphere. It shows that all can live as brothers and sisters. This is the best place to start to do something for lasting peace.

I believe that the cause of the conflict was people's lack of understanding. Religion also plays an important role. People including adults must be educated properly if we are to avoid conflict in the future. Dhamma education is also important; it teaches people to tolerate others and their religion. Likewise, respect for tradition is a must for people's unity and for avoiding unnecessary conflict."

Editor's note:
M. Nelson Piyaratne is a veteran English teacher who has been based in Kataragama since 1987. In 1997 he was appointed as Kataragama Group Correspondent for Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. (Lake House). As a long-time Kataragama resident, English teacher and journalist, Nelson Piyaratne has been frequently called upon to assist visiting researchers, photo journalists, and others including spiritual seekers from abroad. In the course of his long association with visiting scholars, researchers, and media teams, Mr. Piyaratne has acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of Kataragama's traditions and contemporary social milieu.

Contact information:

Nelson Piyaratne
V.O.C. Housing
New Town
Sri Lanka
Home tel: (+94) 472235447
Mobile: (+94) 718031562
Or e-mail:

Examples of articles by M. Nelson Piyaratne:

Colombo Newspaper
31 March 2003 Ceylon Daily News "Tourism should be developed through zonal system – PM" news report
27 July 2002 Ceylon Daily News "God Kataragama and His supreme identity" interview with Murugan Bhakti editor Patrick Harrigan
18 July 2002 Ceylon Daily News "Pada Yatra pilgrims reach Kataragama" Pada Yatra 2002
16 July 2002 Ceylon Daily News "Kataragama festival in full swing" Buddhist, Hindu, Vedda ceremonies on Day 6 of Esala Festival
14 July 2001 Ceylon Daily News "Army to provide facilities for Kataragama pilgrims" Pada Yatra 2001
14 July 2001 Ceylon Daily News "Pada Yatra pilgrims approaching Kataragama" Pada Yatra 2001
7 July 2000 Ceylon Daily News "Teyvani Amman Temple festivities at Kataragama" Hindu traditions
12 July 2000 Kataragama report "Discovery Channel discovers Kataragama" TV documentary
28 June 2000 Ceylon Daily News "Kataragama Pada Yatra in progress" Pada Yatra 2000
21 July 1999 Ceylon Daily News "Pada Yatra foot pilgrims reach Kataragama" Pada Yatra 1999
5 August 1998 Ceylon Daily News "Kataragama Devale officials reach understanding with Veddahs" Veddas at Kataragama
7 August 1998 Ceylon Daily News "Kataragama Belongs to All People" Flag-hoisting 1998
24 July 1997 Ceylon Daily News "Kataragama Deviyo's untiring white follower" Interview with editor Patrick Harrigan