‘Spiritual healing’ horror: two die, 16 hospitalised | Daily News
Spiritualists attract over 25,000 invalids to rural school grounds

‘Spiritual healing’ horror: two die, 16 hospitalised

The massive crowd at the so-called religious ‘spiritual  healing’ camp in Horowpothana, near Anuradhapura.  Picture by Anuradhapura Addl. Corr. Amila Wanasinghe .
The massive crowd at the so-called religious ‘spiritual healing’ camp in Horowpothana, near Anuradhapura. Picture by Anuradhapura Addl. Corr. Amila Wanasinghe .

A so-called religious ‘spiritual healing’ camp being held over the weekend in Horowpothana, near Anuradhapura, ended in tragedy when two people died and at least sixteen others were hospitalised after an estimated 25,000 invalids and accompanying persons crowded into a rural school grounds with the hope of a miraculous healing of their diseases and afflictions.

Police are busy investigating the circumstances of the deaths and the other casualties yesterday and local police told Daily News that more details would be released after inquiries. Local people of the area were of the view that the casualties were caused by thousands of patients arriving from distant parts of the country having to stay all day in the open playground of the school without adequate facilities for shelter.

The spiritual healing camp held at the Ruwanveli Madya Maha Vidyalaya grounds, had begun around 2 p.m. on Saturday and has continued until Sunday noon when it was abruptly discontinued after the deaths occurred.

Some 25,000 invalids suffering from long term illnesses such as cancer and kidney diseases have attended this camp which was titled “Dev Suwa Sewa” and conducted by a person named Deegoda Kumara who is said to be reputed ‘faith healer’ who has previously held such ‘healing’ camps.

“Dev Suwa Sewa” translates as Divine Healing Service. Reports said that during the healing camp Buddhist Bodhi Poojas and Aashirwada Poojas were performed as blessings on the participants. A Buddhist monk in the area had performed the Bodhi Pooja yesterday at the camp, local sources said.

A man (78) had died of a heart attack, and a woman (39) having paralysis, died at the healing camp, Police spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekera disclosed. The man has been identified as A.M. Ranawaka (78), a resident of Dikhenawaththa, Urala, Wanduraba, Galle.

The deceased woman was P. Dinusha de Silva (39), a resident of Abrapura, Mahawaskaduwa, Kalutara. Of the 16 other patients who were admitted to Horowpothana hospital 14 of them have been transferred to Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital for further treatment. The two bodies were kept at Horowpothana hospital for the post mortem.

Doctors at Anuradhapura Hospital told Daily News that the patients had fallen ill or their existing illnesses had been aggravated due to prolonged exposure to the sun and because of convergence of a large gathering of sick people in one place. Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital Director Palitha Bandara said that public are often deceived or misled by these programmes that claim to heal physical ailments suffered by the invalids.

The public should take precautions not to be deceived by so called ‘spiritual gurus’.

Horowpothana Police sources said that no one has been arrested yet. Police point out that all the participants had attended the healing camp of their own will. The spiritual healing camp which was scheduled to continue all day yesterday was brought to a halt following the incident.

“We recorded statements from the organisers of the event. Deegoda Kumara is said to have carried out at least 100 spiritual healing camps. He reportedly calls himself a Buddhist,” police said.

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