United In Hope:
The Sri Lankan Mosque That Draws More Than Muslims
A mosque in southern Sri Lanka is bringing the country’s different sects together. Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims believe they will be blessed if they go there.
The elder daughter of the woman who was talking had worn the gold jewellery for several days. It was to be part of her dowry and she had adored having it. But then it went missing, the woman, Punyawathie, says.
“There was no sign of the jewellery in the house for days,” Punyawathie explains. “We searched everywhere in the house but we could not find it.”
Locals believe that those at the mosque have miraculous powers, to do everything from heal sickness to find missing gold.
The family even consulted soothsayers to try to find out where the missing gold was. But to no avail.
“Then I heard that the people at the Godapitiya Jumma mosque might be able to help,” the local mother continued. “They helped us and after a few days the jewellery was found and those who took it were punished thank god.”
Hundreds of people come to the Godapitiya Jumma mosque in Akuressa, Matara in southern Sri Lanka because they believe that those at the mosque have miraculous powers, to do everything from heal sickness to find missing gold. And strangely enough for Sri Lanka, the supplicants are of many different kinds of sects. Traditionally Sinhalese Buddhists have gone to seek blessings from Hindu temples but it is very unusual to go to a mosque. This is why some locals believe that the Godapitiya Jumma mosque truly is a centre for reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
“I am a good Buddhist and I respect other religions,” says Saman Upul Pinidiya, a local journalist. Pinidiya’s life was spared when a bomb went off in Akuressa but others near him died.
“I think I survived due to this mosque,” Pinidiya says somewhat emotionally. “When I have a problem I come here.”
“People who come here expect us to help them in their sorrows,” says Maulavi Mavsum, a staff member at the mosque. “Buddhists, Tamils, Muslims – everyone comes here, We put their problem before God and they find relief. Their wishes come true. That’s why they come here. And we provide all services free of charge.”
Once they have found their problems are solved, the supplicants will often come back again and make a donation to the mosque out of gratitude.
“If relief can be provided to a stressed mind, then that is valuable and a good deed,” confirms the chief monk of a nearby Buddhist temple, Agalakada Rathanapala Thero. “The Buddhists go there and sometimes the Muslims come to our temple to ask for blessings too.”