Sri Lanka’s ‘Hellfire’ will continue amid religious outcry

ECONOMYNEXT – An electronic dance music (EDM) festival named “Hellfire” to be held in the newly opened Lotus Tower in Sri Lanka will go ahead as planned, organizers say, despite opposition from religious circles and the mayor of Colombo for allegedly promoting Satanism.

However, unconfirmed reports indicate that the name was changed to ‘Fire’ at the last minute.

Security has been tightened near the Chinese-built Lotus Tower with the support of the Sri Lankan military, said the event organizer who identifies himself as Thorz.

On Thursday, September 28, Thorz leaked a video recording of a phone conversation between himself and Colombo Mayor Rosy Senanayake, who could be heard expressing strong opposition to the name chosen for the festival, on religious grounds. She was heard urging that the name “Hellfire” be changed.

“I will not allow you to worship satanic music for Satan in my town,” Senanayake was heard saying.

“I will get the Buddhist clergy and everyone else against this concert. Please change your [theme]. Many people write to me and ask me to stop this concert. I have the authority to approve your tickets or not to approve your tickets,” she said.

Senanayake obviously wasn’t interested in Thorsz’s protests, ignoring his insistence that there was no such intent behind the name.

“Please change the theme. I don’t want to see a hellfire concert in my city where I have control. And I will do everything in my power to make sure people [not come to your concert]we heard Senanyaka say.

Thorz was previously associated with the Electric Mask Festival (EMF), another EDM festival he allegedly organized in March 2022 and held in the Chinese city of Colombo Porty, shortly before the protests began. Aragalaya (wrestling) led by young people from Sri Lanka. against what turned out to be the country’s worst currency crisis in decades.

His phone conversation with Senanayake was part of a longer video that Thorz posted on his Facebook page explaining the incident. He claimed there was an attempt to cancel the event at the last minute due to some religious groups misrepresenting it as a gathering of devil worshippers.

“Some people think that we organize this festival to bring young people to worship Satan. Some people make me look like Satan,” Thorz said in his video statement.

He said there were already rumors before the call about a planned campaign against the event although neither organizers nor spectators took it seriously.

“We saw there was a campaign against us, but we didn’t take it seriously. But on Wednesday, September 28, we received a call from the Mayor of Colombo, Rosy Senanayake, which made us realize how seriously people take the theme we have chosen for the festival,” he said.

On his Facebook page, Thorz posted several photos of people gathered in different places over the past few days to protest the theme of the festival.

Organizers said the festival will go ahead as planned as all payments have been made and legal permission has already been given by the authorities.

Despite the mayor’s protest, the Colombo City Council (CMC) also authorized the festival in a document signed by Commissioner Badrani Jayawardena.

In the letter of permission, the organizers were advised not to carry out any activity that could harm any religion, belief or way of life in the country and not to display the name “Hellfire”. (Colombo/Sep 30, 2022)

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