Sri Lanka’s astrologers squabble over dates

Sri Lanka’s astrologers squabble over dates

/ 05:35 AM March 20, 2024

Military personnel in ceremonial uniform lower the Sri Lanka national flag at Galle Face Green in Colombo on July 23, 2022. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)


COLOMBO—Sri Lanka’s government-backed traditional astrologers have failed to unanimously agree on dates for new year rituals, with squabbling seers warning of “disaster” and accusing rivals of misinterpreting the position of stars.

Astrologers are hugely influential figures consulted by both the island’s Buddhist and Hindu communities, and their advice for auspicious dates guides everything from marriages to business deals—and even national elections.


But the 42-member group of astrologers employed by the island’s Cultural Affairs ministry said they were split for the first time on deciding the best date for new year celebrations.



“We discussed very deeply,” said Ananda Seneviratne, the spokesperson for the New Year auspicious time committee.

“After a lot of deliberations, we finalized the auspicious time through a majority decision.”

The majority set the dawn of the traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year on the night of April 13.

But dissenting seer Roshan Chanaka said the time was wrong and would lead the country into “disaster.”

Sri Lanka “will go up in flames” if the “official times” are followed, he added, without giving further details.

Sri Lanka is emerging from its worst economic crisis, which led to months of street protests and forced then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign in July 2022.


His successor, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, is widely expected to run for reelection in polls later this year, potentially between September and October.

READ: Sri Lanka’s turmoil explained

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Nearly a decade ago, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa called a snap election in January 2015 based on the date advised by his personal astrologer. He lost the polls. —AFP

TAGS: Sri Lanka

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