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A Sri Lankan man was declared dead following a bizarre exorcism ritual intended to drive out evil spirits from a house in the village of Pelanwatte. 32-year-old Maxi Castro, a self-proclaimed exorcist, sacrificed a cat as part of the ritual and then buried himself in a shallow grave with instruction to onlookers to dig him out once he gave the signal by pushing a sword up through the ground. According to local police, onlookers became concerned when there was no signal after three hours and dug Castro out. On realizing that he was unconscious, Castro was taken to a nearby hospital ob September 5 but was declared dead on arrival.
Castro had been asked to investigate the house at the request of the owner, Wasantha Bandara. Bandara, a schoolteacher, had become concerned because of the bad luck he had been experiencing. After seeing Castro carry out an exorcism at a temple six month previously, he asked Castro to do the same for his house. "He said I had bad luck because someone had sprinkled human ash at my house, but he could drive out evil spirits through this ritual," Bandara said in an interview with local media.
A formal investigation is underway into Castro's death.
While Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist country, belief in black magic, sorcery and exorcism remains strong. Exorcists such as Maxi Castro are in demand to provide exorcism rituals Ialso known as tovil) to drive out demons and other evil spirits believed to bring bad luck and disease. Exorcism rituals are often highly involved and a yakadura ("demon doctor") can spend hours completing the elaborate ceremonies involved. The cost of having such an exorcism done can be as much as an average Sri Lanka worker makes in three months.
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