Kapu Mahattayas complain to President, PM, IGP against Basnayake Nilame

BN denies allegations, says ready to face any probe

By K. D. Devapriya

A group of kapu mahattayas (lay priests) led by the Chief kapu mahattaya of the Kataragama Devale have made representations to President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, IGP Pujith Jayasundera and the Buddhist Affairs Commissioner against the incumbent Basnayake Nilame of the Devale, D. P. Kumarage .

They have complained of financial misappropriation at the holy shrine. They have mentioned 32 instances.

Addressing the media, the Chief kapu mahattaya Somipala T Ratnayake said: "Devotees offer many items to the Kataragama Devale. They also provide rice and vegetables for alms. They offer money, too. Rs. 12,500 each is obtained from devotees for alms. But, that money is not given tot he Devale. Many devotees have made complaints.

We have evidence and we demand an investigation. A portion of rice coming from the paddy fields belonging to the Devale is distributed among the Alatthi Ammas, who perform rituals for the devale. It is their duty to prepare rice which is offered to the deity. An investigation should be conducted to find out what happens to the rest of the rice. We have evidence that deeds have been prepared for some lands belonging to the Devale. Some of them have been sold. We need an authority to check whether the proceeded therefrom have been deposited in the Devale accounts. It is the government which pays for the water and electricity bills of the devale. Devotees on their own do the development activities of the holy shrine."

Lala Arapaksha, a kapu mahattaya who performs thevava ritual said:

Contacted for comments, Basnayake Nilame D. P. Kumarage said: "Whatever I did and spent for the devale have been done in a transparent manner. I have documented all my spending. Gold jewellery offered by devotees to the devale have been documented and handed over to the officials of the Buddhist Affairs Department. People know the way I developed Kataragama since my assuming duties of the Basnayake Nilame office. I am not afraid of facing any probe. I am ready to face any audit inquiry. I challenge those who complain against me to prove their allegations. I conducted the annual procession for 15 days in an unprecedentedly beautiful manner."

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