The incorporation and transformation of a ‘Hindu’ goddess

the worship of Kannaki-Pattini in Sri Lanka

  • Malathi de Alwis University of Colombo


The worship of goddess Kannaki-Pattini is unique to Sri Lanka, a country in which one can discern two strands of worship that illuminate both the precarity and resiliency of a ‘Hindu’ ‘other’ within a primarily Sinhala Buddhist polity. This article will focus on the transformation of Kannaki into a unique Hindu deity as well as the incorporation and transformation of this same deity into a Buddhist one —worshipped as Pattini. This complex form of co-habitation/ syncretism is explored through the concept of ‘multireligiosity,’ as four major ‘world religions’ co-exist within Sri Lanka: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Divergences and convergences of origin myths and arrival narratives will be analysed along with a consideration of certain sacred spaces of ‘multireligiosity’ associated with this goddess that seem to be fissuring at the seams in a post-war context of Sinhala Buddhist hegemony and expansion.

How to Cite
de Alwis, M. (2018). The incorporation and transformation of a ‘Hindu’ goddess. The South Asianist Journal, 6(1), 31. Retrieved from