Peace and Conflict, Poetry, Post-War, Reconciliation, Vavuniya

Mass Marriage, Vavuniya

What a large and dramatic idea occurred to the brigadier in charge
of rehabilitation , to organize a mass wedding to spur former Tiger

troops into formation under a different philosophy and yet appeal
to their strengths to cohere as a group not any longer in waging war

against the State but to reveal their common humanity to agree
to a public celebration of private bonds, to ensure their co-habiting

led to proper inheritance for children, access to social welfare
payments when necessary, all to the good for these members

of a herd, now in white vershtis and magenta sarees eating cake
and chatting with relatives witnessed by the Bollywood actor

Vivek Oberoi, no less, before returning to detention camps,
now two by two, respectable members of the new unitary ark,

where domestic animals gather obediently while the brigadier
sheds a tear; he told the press, he was nervous, even more so

than before his own wedding, which did not take place thankfully
under public glare and was not diminished by the splendour

of mass marriage like mass production of poultry, efficiencies
of scale, government desire to move rehabilitation forward

in one swoop, a sort of dog training in a large group; anybody
realize that marriage among truly reborn takes place between

two people and the witnesses are God and invited guests? Here,
some exceptions were made to the usual practice, no consultation

with bride or groom, whether the actor was indeed an honoured
guest, or if the brigadier should cry like a mother, or if even

53 couples minded seeing their knots tied in the presence
of each other, or have Reverend Moon and other enlightened

priests of mass marriage, become advisers to Sri Lankan
military, spiritual guides to its standard operating procedure?

  • Heshan

    A nice piece that highlights the absurdity of the whole affair. The military should play no role in civilian affairs, period.

  • ModVoice

    If I recall the BBC report correctly, these young couples are to be resettled in what is called a “Peace Village.” A peace village that is heavily guarded by military – what a joke!
    Even those top ranks who gave the orders are enjoying much better status – courtesy of lankan justice.

  • There is no limit to what a government and military drunk with power can do to the land which was once a paradise on earth.

  • Pearl Thevanayagam

    How about a mass second marraige ceremony for politicians and their paramours so it brings some decency and legitimacy for the mistresses?.

    Surely we can change our marriage laws and place them under Emergency Regulations.

  • Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

    Does this guy have something against marriage? I don’t recall reading ironic poems by him on the Sun God ( Surya Theivan) also known as the World Leader ( Sarvadesha Thalaivar) or child conscription, the suicide assassination of Neelan Tiruchelvam, young Tamil rolling on tarred roads behind portraits of Prabhakaran and stuff like that.

  • This is very unfortunate what is going on in other parts of the world, while we take our civil liberties for granted.

  • Tmama


    SriLankans show that they are genuine in their compassionfor these young folks. THese unfortunate folks were the cyanide wearing fodder for the who were conscripted to fight for the dreamof their fascist leaders.

    But beware, there are some scoundrels in theWest who would still like to take over their control and start another thirty year campaign.

  • absurd propaganda or a pathetic move to suppress future witnesses to war crime allegations?

  • justitia

    What is the future of these married couples? Without homes to live in and livelihoods to earn money to live on? This is not clear.
    Are they going to live in camps and have children born into captivity? This is a tamasha organised by the military.
    Even if they are resettled in their former homes and livelihoods, they will still be a militarised society – watched and harassed.
    This has never been reported anywhere else.

  • Indran Amirthanayagam

    Dayan, if you dig deeper into your shelves of Sri Lankan poetry, you will find “Elegy For Neelan Tiruchelvam”, the lead poem in Ceylon R.I.P: Selected Poems of Indran Amirthanayagam. That particular selection was made by Regi Siriwardenea a great writer, translator and friend.

    As for your broad and rhetorical and directed to nobody in particular question about the poet and his stance on marriage, why don’t you ask him directly? He can be found at

    Thanks, by the way, for your suggestions of themes. Perhaps if we move to private space and engage in dialogue we may be able to fine-tune our selection of themes for our individual public utterances. Individual email may function a bit like marriage, a private matter between two human beings and their god, not their brigadier.

  • Pearl Thevanayagam

    Cosidering where Dayan comes from, we need to empathise with him for his rather emotional outpourings.

    To give the devil its due, Dayan has spent his life searching for an answer to the injustices committed by capitalists and suppressors be they the government or the insurgents.

    It is to his credit that although he is now an armchair critic he was an active guerilla following Marxist ideology. And he dallied with Tamil militancy for whatever cause.

    Perhaps with his talent for poetry Indran should take the stone Dayan throws at him and build a house of meaningful poetry to add to his existing ones.

    But I still do not agree with Dayan’s Sinhala supremacy theory.

  • Sohan Fernando

    Yes, nice piece!

    Dayan says:

    Does this guy have something against marriage?

    And I say: does Dayan have something against understanding context?! I recall a lecturer once told a student “do you really not understand, or do you just WANT to not understand?”

    Other than Dayan, everyone else clearly can see that “this guy” is not against marriage but rather against THIS particular seemingly manipulative mass murder (oh I meant marriage).

    …no consultation
    with bride or groom…

    I suppose that phrase is NOT just poetic license?
    Does anyone know, is there reliable reportage that some or all these couples had little choice? I just assumed it was their free choice.

  • SomeOne

    In an interview with an army officer I heard that he was saying “…they have given every thing to these people…”

    Hope that they haven’t given child too. What a disgrace!!!.