Should we be celebrating?

The events over the last few days culminating in today’s holiday has led many people to ask themselves whether they should be celebrating at all. Is it correct to do so? Here is an exchange between a few people. I think they are quite insightful about the different ideas people have.

Marie: Suddenly, ironically, sadly, people seem to be even more conscious of their ethnicity than ever, more combative. At least that’s what I have experienced so far in the last 48 hours. And I thought I was a pessimist.

PJ: You don’t find there is a middle ground of opinion?

TW: This sort of unmitigated joy is disturbing. Because on the one hand, it’s perfectly understandable. And on the other it’s completely inappropriate. Distressing.

Ravana: I think it’s normal to celebrate the end of war. There have been no incidents of violence. Many Tamil Sri Lankans share in the relief, even if some are also saddened by the death of VP.

Marie: PJ, there SHOULD be a middle ground of opinion, definitely. Maybe i am encountering only two extremes. Lucky me 😦 Ravana, it is normal, yes, and no incidents of violence. I am relieved, I am hopeful. I think what I am encountering is people who are saddened by VP’s death being hostile towards their sinhalese friends, and others who are overjoyed, being suspicious of all tamil people. What I meant was, isnt this supposed to be a time for hope and reconciliation? That’s what I thought it would be. I have seen members of ALL communities celebrating. That is great. But deep inside, lots of people see this as a victory for “Sinhalese people” as opposed to Sri Lankans. And I have been made to feel responsible, merely for the fact that I am of that particular ethnicity. It’s crazy.

CW: I don’t think there’s anything to celebrate. This military victory was achieved at a very, very high human cost. It took the lives of hundreds of children and innocent people who had nothing or very little to do with the LTTE. While some people are madly celebrating, large number of others in the warzone are mourning their loved ones. it’s more a time for solidarity than for celebration

NS: all tamil shops are shut — and why, if we should all be celebrating, is there so much tension in the air… I do not get a sense of ‘celebration’ at all.

Why are the ordinary tamils not on the streets?

Too many lives lost to celebrate, but I do feel a sense of… dare I say, hope? (false hope).

The real test will come in the following weeks, when the ‘south’ accepts all minorities into it’s fold with open arms; and the civilians in the north are relocated quickly to their villages.

PSP: Some Singhalese are asking Tamil shops to give money for their celebrations. That might be one reason they are shut. I agree with CW, it’s one thing to be relieved the war is over, another to dance around like monkeys when so many are suffering.

Marie: yeah CW you said it: solidarity, that’s what i want to see. That’s what i dont see and hope for. NS, maybe we have lived too long with this that we are scared to hope. Fingers crossed.

NS: totally agree with CW re. solidarity.

PJ: yeah, its complicated. but we must not forget that many many Sinhala people sent/keep sending food and other supplies to the IDPs. So its not been all celebration. I heard a Buddhist monk on TV, yesterday, I think it was — saying that if more people took atta-sil for Poson, the meals not eaten (you fast at night when you take sil) can be sent to IDPs. There is that sentiment also.

Marie: Yes, PJ. There have been people who really did something useful like that too. What the monk said was inspired. Thanks for reminding me about that, it helps my spirits rise a bit.

PJ: we must always look for both the good and ugly, otherwise its hard to go on.  It’s been a good discussion, ty.

Ravana: Yes, there has been a lot of killing over the last 26 years, but that’s over now. If that’s not a cause to be happy, I don’t know what is.

I felt the tension and mixed anticipation on Sunday and Monday, but after yesterday, it’s just pure happiness that the killing is over and there is unobstructed opportunity to race forward. Yes, a lot of people have suffered and are suffering, but this end to the war will mean that that too will change sooner rather than later.

Maybe this text I received from a Tamil Sri Lankan friend absolved me from restraining my feelings: “I got the text of the speech. If he means it all, now its time for a drink.”

NS: i can only hope, wait and see…

Marie: thanks Ravana for sharing that, I agree with your sri lankan tamil friend. Thanks guys, for commenting, it has helped me clarify things in my mind. Sabbe saththa bhavanthu sukithaththa (may all beings be well and happy)

Ravana: Hope is good, but we have to have faith, too, that things will change for the better. If we have a negative view of the future, it is likely that we will automatically exclude ourselves from the movements that have the motivation and the power to shape our future. We can either be part of the process, participating and shaping it, or we can be a passenger in it, and end up somewhere we didn’t want to go.


8 thoughts on “Should we be celebrating?

  1. It is a happiness that comes after hard days (Very long 26 years old day) work. You have dinner, have a drink, talk smile make love and fall asleep knowing that next day (could be many years long) you need to work even harder. Yes we should celebrate.

  2. I think some form of celebration is necessary. I’m not in SL at the moment so I don’t know if the celebrations are overblown or not so I just hope they aren’t. I also hope that people, especially the people who matter, aren’t blinded by the euphoria and their own rhetoric. If they let this opportunity slip away it will be tragic.

    I feel like putting a shot of Arrack myself. 🙂

  3. well said kalusudda, lot of hard work awaits us, srilankans while we try to rebuild and reconsile.
    people here are celebrating for different reasons, celebrations are perseived differently by different groups. some are happy that the country has defeated terrorism, some are celebrating as the monster they have been fearing inside their minds is no longer alive, some are celebrating the bravory of our soldiers (some of whom will be their own sons and daughters) and some celebrations (hope very few) are based on racist ideologies.
    we started getting calls from friends and relatives abroad asking us to ‘be safe’, ‘keep indoors’ etc. though i spent the whole day today explaining to some of my relatives (Tamils) that they don’t need get alarmed as people out there are only celebrating the vitocry against terrorism and not against tamils, some comments and slogans i over heard are trully alarming “this is the land of sinhalese” “Tamils can now go beg to India” etc.
    it is a time to be proud and happy no doubt. but more than that it is a time for reflection, reconsiliation and acceptance i think. we have several hundred thousand people displaced in the north, thousands of families grieving the loss of bread winners at the battle front in the south. there are still questions, suspisions and 25 yr old grudges to fix. time and money spent on celebrations can be used in different ways i suppose

  4. well for ppl who left homes in the morning not knowing if they would make it back home in the evenning, i guess the relief that they feel is quite natural. U can’t blame the ppl in SL right now.. coz most if not all have been living with this menace for that last nearly 30 yrs.. hell anyone aged 30 or below haven’t known a time without the war!!! not known a country where they don’t have to keep their eyes open for a bomb or somthing.. they never got the chance to develop the warmth in their hearts towards the tamils because of that… I don’t agree with celebrating the death of many ppl… but i don’t think its ONLY death that these ppl are celebrating… i mean, I spoke to this lad who’s a bit younger to me. and he’s like, “man it feels kinda unreal, i can’t get my head around the war not being there!!” and all these hate speach against tamils, well hopefully its just the adrenaline rush and things will go back to normal when it goes down… I mean, we sinhalese (if not sri Lankans) are quite known to have a “short term memory” (wonder if this could be called “holding no grudges”) never the less, i think we REALLY should talk this topic if the situation remains after a couple of weeks.. which i hardly doubt…. this i think is more like the spur of the moment…

  5. yeah, the celebrations were just for a few days i think. if they got excessive, MR did speak out at once, and say, ‘don’t lets be rude about this.’ It was Ravana who told me of this first; then I heard MR repeat it at the big rally. He said it his own way, but he made a point of it, and there was pin drop silence when he did. Don’t mistake that for superficial eye wash. I lived through JR and Lalith A., and every one else in that government justifying the 1983 riots, on TV, so I’d say, this man is a rather more sensible, good mannered person, compared to that lot.

  6. completely unrelated and apologies if the comment takes away from the seriousness of the post, but is the pub quiz not on anymore? if it is, details please 🙂

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