April 16, 2024

Sri Lanka’s government-backed traditional astrologers have failed to agree unanimously on the best date for New Year rituals, with squabbling seers warning of “disaster” and accusing opponents of misinterpreting the position of stars.

Astrologers are hugely influential figures consulted by 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 Ministry of Cultural Affairs said they were, for the first time, divided over the decision on the best date for New Year celebrations.

“We discussed very deeply,” said Ananda Seneviratne, the spokesperson for the New Year’s Auspicious Time Committee. “After much deliberation, we settled the auspicious time by a majority decision.”

The majority have the dawn of the traditional Sinhala and Tamil new year on the night of April 13.

But disapproving visionary Roshan Chanaka said the timing 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 providing 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, Ranil Wickremesinghe, is expected to stand for re-election later this year, possibly between September and October.

Almost 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.

In 2009, an astrologer was arrested after predicting that Mahinda Rajapaksa would be suspended as president and replaced by his prime minister.

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