COLOMBO, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) — Sri Lanka’s Hindus have joined followers of other religions in the country in organizing prayers for China’s victory in the battle against the novel coronavirus epidemic.
A solemn ceremony, organized by the Sri Lanka China Journalists Forum (SLCJF), was held at the Ponnambaleswarar Hindu temple here on Friday, coinciding with “Shivarathri,” an occasion devoted to the principal deity in the temple, Lord Shiva.
As the temple bells rang, priests chanted invocations in Sanskrit language and offered Lord Shiva flowers and fruits, which were then passed around for devotees to imbibe the invoked blessings.
Among a larger number of people present at the temple ceremony was the spokesperson of the Chinese embassy, Luo Chong, and the leader of the Indian Tamil community in Colombo and former cabinet minister of Hindu religious affairs, Mano Ganeshan.
“Down the years, China has helped Sri Lanka whenever it faced a crisis. Now, China is ravaged by the coronavirus. It is our turn now to demonstrate support for China,” Ganeshan said.
SLCJF president Nalin Aponso expressed the belief that China will “defeat the coronavirus epidemic very soon,” saying “all of us know that China has taken the best possible steps in this regard.”
“By organizing these prayers to get the blessings of all the religions in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka China Journalists Forum is expressing its solidarity and brotherhood with China,” Aponso added.
Menaka Mookandi Wettasinghe, a Lankan journalist who had attended a seminar in the now virus-affected Hubei Province in China, said it was only appropriate that the prayers for China’s recovery were held on “Shivarathri,” a day on which Hindus pray the whole night for peace and well-being of all.
“We are sure that the prayers said on this day will bear fruit,” Wettasinghe added.
Replying to the sentiments of goodwill expressed on the occasion, Luo said: “The coronavirus has no religion, no nationality, and no borders. It is therefore necessary for all, irrespective of religion and nationality, to unite and fight against it.”
“We thank you for the prayers said in the church, the mosque and the temple,” Luo said, adding “we are confident that under the guidance of the Chinese government and the Chinese leaders, the 1.4 billion people of China will defeat the virus.”
Over the past few weeks, followers of Sri Lanka’s four major religions — Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims — have held prayers in their respective places of worship for China’s speedy recovery, reflecting the immense goodwill that Sri Lankans of all classes, religions and ethnic groups have for China.
Organized by the SLCJF, solemn prayers were held earlier at the Gangaramaya Buddhist temple, the Kochchikade St. Anthony’s Catholic church, and the Dewatagaha Muslim mosque in Colombo.