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Lord Venkateshwara's temple in Sri Lanka

From: R. Skrintha (srik_at_iiap.ernet.in)
Date: Mon Nov 17 1997 - 11:38:37 PST

Dear BhagawathaAL,

Here's a clipping I found in today's issue of Times of India. 

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SRI BALAJI TEMPLE NEAR COLOMBO EMERGING AS A SYMBOL OF TAMIL-SINHALESE 
UNITY.

Colombo: A 300-year "Nedumal" (Balaji) temple on the outskirts of Colombo
has survived the ravages of Sri Lanka's tubulent times emerged as a
spiritual bridge between the Sinhalese & Tamils. The Vishnu-Nedumal is a
symbol of the togetherness despite the deep divisions brought in by the 
15-year bloody ethnic war, reports WEEKEND newspaper. "This temple has 
always attracted a large number of people from both communities and
the numbers have inreased tremendously in the past 20 years or so," 
says Sathyanarayana Potti, a senior priest of the temple who hailed
from Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. Sinhalese, devout Buddhists by religion,
refer to the temple as "Vishnu-Kovil" and find themselves at home there
as all the priests fluently converse in their language.

Top Sri Lankan leaders always offer prayers at the temple and a special
prayer for the success of President Chandrika Kumaratunga on completion
of 3 years in office was conducted at the temple last week, the paper
says. 

The temple, and its chief deity Lord Venkateswara, devoutly referred to
by Tamils as "Nedumal" (Perumal in Tamil Nadu) whose idol was brought 
from Tirupati Andhra Pradesh, has acquired an immense popularity from
temple's legendary history spanning over 300 years. The temple, 
according to its present records, was built by a Tamil civil contractor
Theeran, who while attending to civic works of Dehiwala canal outside
Colombo during the Dutch period in the 18th century heard a divine call
and stumbled on its ruins in the forests located a few kilometers away.
"Our family was not the same after he stumbled on the deity," says
Theeran's grandson Thanbiah Ramaratnam, who along with his mother, is
the current managing trustee. "Before my grandfather found the temple,
it was first believed to have been discovered by an unknown devotee, 
who after a divine call, followed a mysterious calf into the forest 
which had vanished after leaving him at the place where he later 
discovered SANKU (the conch) and CHAKRAM (the wheel), which are always
carried by the Lord," says Ramaratnam.

"Now the temple is called Mini-Tirupati as people who have no means and
opportunity to visit Lord Perumal at Tirupati offer Him prayers here,"
says Ramaratnam.

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Hari Om,
srikanth