Sri Lankan Shamans, known for helping pilgrims place curses on their enemies, today went on strike after appeals to the lord of destruction failed to resolve a pay dispute.
Seenigama Devale, a shrine on a small islet off Sri Lanka’s southern coast, hosts daily ceremonies in which celebrants guide the grinding of fiery peppers over a millstone.
The ritual offering is made to Devol – a deity whose duties involve comforting the faithful and unleashing great suffering on their enemies.
But the temple’s chief shaman, D.M. Kumara, said he and his nine colleagues had halted the ceremonies to protest new rules that sharply cut their earnings.
Administrators ruled that Kumara and his colleagues could now only take 30 percent of the cash, gems and jewellery offerings made to Devol – down from the complete share they took earlier.
Shamans from Seenigama Devale, a shrine on a small islet off Sri Lanka’s southern coast, are today on strike after appeals to the lord of destruction failed to resolve a pay dispute
He said all 10 shamans had appealed to the deity to intervene on their behalf, adding that the strike was necessary in the interim.
‘We have taken our grievance to god Devol, but we are taking direct action because we have not seen immediate results,’ he said.
‘Divine influence will take a little time to work.’
The temple’s interim administrator, Sarath Disenthuwa Handi, told AFP that the strike was unnecessary because celebrants would still be earning around $1500 per month – 10 times the average salary of a new employee in the state sector.
Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, a faith that does not typically recognise deities but in local practice incorporates elements of Hindu and animistic worship.
It is common for Buddhist priests to invoke the blessings of 330 million gods during their sermons, a reference to the Hindu pantheon.
Devol is one of the more popular deities in Sri Lanka, with more than 1500 people visiting Seenigama Devale each day, according to Handi.